This general approach works well for many kinds of fruit, though strawberries have quite a bit more water in them than fruits like plums or even raspberries, so a little more reduction is called for here. The recipe comes by way of Rose Levy Beranbaum, the queen of cakes. She calls this preparation “strawberry conserve”, and uses it to flavor buttercreams and spread on cake rolls. Compared to a typical jam or store-bought filling it has a good deal less sugar and more real fruit flavor, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You’ll need:
4 pounds fresh or frozen (no sugar added) strawberries
8 ounces (generous cup) sugar
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) water
Most of the time a simple jam filling is enough for us pastry people. Jams are great between cake layers, in coffee cakes or in Danishes. But sometimes jams just don’t cut it. Jams are thick, they’re also sweet —depending on the application, they can be far too much so — and have only small pieces of fruit, which can be, quite frankly, disappointing. Should they be a little loose or soupy, as many homemade jams are, they can weep into whatever you’re spreading them on.
This filling is mostly used for sfogliatelle riccia, but works nicely as a bake-in filling in other applications. It’s a touch on the fussy side, but the results are worth it. You’ll need:
2 cups whole milk
4.5 ounces (3/4 cup) semolina or 3.5 ounces (1/2 cup) durum flour
7 ounces (1 cup) ricotta cheese
4 ounces (generous 1/2 cup) sugar
2 egg yolks
3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) candied citrus peels or candied cherries, finely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Crème mousseline — also known as German buttercream — is a silky and decadent combination of pastry cream and butter. It’s often used as a filling, though it works just as well as a frosting, as the “buttercream” moniker implies. The proportions for crème mousseline are 2 cups pastry cream to one cup very soft butter. Yeah, I know. Wow.
This staple Asian pastry filling is best made from scratch, since store bought is not only hard to find, it’s of highly variable consistency, texture, color and sweetness. Make it yourself and you can control all those factors, and it’s not difficult. Think of it as a sweet Asian version of refried beans, though now that I think about it, adzuki paste’s starchy sweetness reminds me more of thick mashed sweet potatoes. Excellent! Begin by soaking about a three cups of dried adzuki beans (available at Asian markets and/or your nearest Whole Foods in the bulk section) in water for about six hours.
Think of chocolate Chantilly cream as a very thin ganache — whipped. Yes, you can make chocolate Chantilly cream with cocoa instead, however the cocoa butter in the chocolate makes a nice stabilizer, helping the whipped cream hold its shape. If you wish to supplement the real chocolate with more cocoa powder to boost the chocolate flavor, you can.
Diplomat cream is what you use when you want the flavor of pastry cream but in a lighter, fluffier package. It makes an outstanding filling for all sorts of things that aren’t baked afterward (or are only finished in the oven or broiler, like brioche polonaise). The whipped cream it contains can’t take heat.
Bake-in chocolate fillings are strange animals because no matter what you do the chocolate is going to seize and go grainy, at least to some extent. Bar chocolate, chocolate sticks, ganache, chocolate chips, chocolate pastry cream…none of them will be the same after all that high oven heat. Which means a bake-in chocolate filling will never be creamy. Assuming you can accept that, and I have a feeling you can, proceed.
I can see the demand for chocolate kringle is high enough that I need to take some action here! Also I don’t have a bake-in chocolate filling on the site anywhere. The time is now! This is basically a chocolate rugelach filling, but use it however you see fit!
6-7 ounces (about a cup) cup finely chopped dark chocolate
4.5 ounces (2/3 cup) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
The method for this extremely sweet, ultra-aromatic filling is a little unorthodox, but if you can suffer through a little stirring, it’s a snap. Start by rehydrating your raisins. Place them in a microwave-safe bowl and pour in water to cover. Zap them for 3-4 minutes until the water boils, then set them aside for half an hour. This, by the way, is a great technique anytime you want to add raisins that can actually be chewed easily to a filling.