The beauty of this dessert for me is in the dichotomy of junk food and sophisticated French pastries. It lies in that space between the two.
The Passion Flakie was one of my favourite treats as a kid. Wafery puff pastry layers embracing a fruity red filling and frosting-like cream. It was special in my eyes for a couple reasons.
1. They resembled desserts from an actual bakery.
2. My mum rarely bought them so I would attempt trading snacks during breaks at school. This made them rare and more desirable. Passion Flakies played hard to get with me... and it worked.
To be on the receiving end of a passion flakie trade, you need to have something of equal value in deliciousness. Generally my finest trading materials consisted of store bought chocolate chip cookies, Oreos or Goldfish Crackers (the last being mediocre at best). If my parents decided to “be healthy” that week I was left with inferior trade items like carrots or an apple. Don’t even bother attempting to barter with fruit or vegetables, it doesn’t work no matter how enticing you try to make them. Organic wasn’t a thing when I was a kid so I’d try tactics of manipulation like,
“Carrots are good for your eyes!” or “Hey, your favourite colour is orange, right? Look what I’ve got! A bag of orange….uhhhh… wands!”
Kid: “Those are just carrots.”
Me: “Okay. Maybe we could just share your snack?”
Kid: “Nah, I’m good.”
Me: *writes their name in diary under heading, ‘People To Get Revenge On Once Popular’*
It’s fine, I never got very popular.
Anyways, I do think these are best shared with a friend. There's a camaraderie about them. They are fairly easy to make so you can whip them up with some tea or coffee while you chat about your week or a new exciting idea or something you're feeling stuck on or maybe just frivolous things, keeping it light and breezy like these pastries. Either way, they help to brighten the mood with their fresh and airy ways. Like delightful little clouds stealing a few moments of your busy mind to remind you that all things will eventually float on as they do.
While creating this post I discovered two things.
1. An anecdote on the origin of puff pastry I want to share with you.
In 1645, a French pastry chef apprentice had a sick father who was prescribed a diet consisting of water, flour and butter (uhhhh, best diet ever!). He wanted to make a loaf of bread for his father that was rich in these ingredients. He made a dough which he packed butter into, folded it again and again, then baked it. Puff pastry was born. Although there is no mention if his father really benefitted from this “diet”, at least he probably died happy.
2. Passion Flakies are solely a Canadian junk food. Others include ketchup chips, all dressed chips, Coffee Crisp, and Smarties.
Speaking of junk food, a special mention to these nostalgic snacks from the 90s. Just because.
- Fruit Roll Ups. Always always always–wrap the entire piece around your index finger and disgust everyone while you suck on it. When you’re done, your finger is a raisined sticky mess and no one will play with you. But it is a right of passage to eating fruit roll ups. Amen.
- Pop rocks. These felt more like self torture than candy. And then there was that terrifying myth that if you drank coke and ate pop rocks you would explode. Scared me straight off the rocks. Been clean ever since.
- Sodalicious. Pretending to drink out of that mini root beer mug is still cool in my opinion.
- Ring Pops
- Bubble Jug. I prefer to drink straight from the jug. Gangster.
- Warheads. I still don't know if I love or hate how sour these are.
- Fun Dip
- Garbage Can-dy. Favourite shape–the fishbone.
- GUYS! REMEMBER ORBITZ? Half drink, half lava lamp. A weirder, more ethereal bubble tea. But so so much worse.
- Laffy Taffy. Fun fact. One time I wrote a letter to Laffy Taffy about how one of their flavours tasted like soap. I even created a picture in Paint on my giant 90s computer and printed it off to enclose with the letter. It was a person in a sudsy bathtub with a speech bubble that said, “I’m washing my body with Laffy Taffy”. Then I signed it from my neighbour Greg and put his address on it because I was scared they would get angry and tell my parents. A month later Greg said, “Hey, I got this weird letter from Laffy Taffy saying sorry I didn’t like their candy…”
Me: “Mmm hmm…” (eyes wide, lips pursed)
Him: “I feel like someone was pretending to be me… someone who knows my address….” (eyeing me suspiciously)
Me: “Hmmm….. weird….” (shuffling my feet)
Him: “..... yeah......... well anyways, they said they were sorry so they sent me 20 free Laffy Taffy coupons.”
Me: “WHAT?! Oh, I mean…cool… if you need help using those coupons…”
Okay, this post went somewhere very different than I expected. It's basically just me making lists and confessing what a sneaky child I was. I became less conniving as I grew up. I swear.
Along with the childhood nostalgia, these puff pastry desserts also have a refined adult feel to them. The homemade blueberry preserve paired with an earl grey whipped cream between thin sheets of butter pastry make for an elegant and mouthwatering treat.
The night before I made these, I was almost asleep when I awoke with a strong desire of crushing one. I wrote it down as a note to myself and went back to sleep.
I couldn't resist following through the next day and it was just as satisfying as I imagined. Sometimes it feels really good to destroy something. To feel the kinetic energy and the sensation of all the components breaking down. I'm going to call it art. That's what's great about art. It can be anything you want. Creation and destruction. How beautiful. And ugly.
BLUEBERRY EARL GREY PUFF PASTRIES (aka PASSION FLAKIES)
t h e m a g i c
i n s p i r a t i o n : junk food of my youth + French bakeries of my adulthood
f e e l s : light & delicately sweet. crumbly, soft & crunchy all at once.
e a t w i t h : tea, coffee/espresso, chai latte, glass of milk (almond, coconut, soy, cow's–the world's milk is your oyster!).
m i g h t l i k e i f y o u ' r e i n t o : joie de vivre, French patisseries, recess, Saturday morning cartoons, Jos Louis, Twinkies, licking the plate, burgundy, cloud-like things, daydreaming.
t h e s c i e n c e
makes 4-8 puff pastries (depending how big your puff pastry sheet is and how big or small you want them) *use pre-made jam and regular whipped cream for an easier, yet still delicious version*
i n g r e d i e n t s :
- 1 sheet of butter puff pastry (make sure it's all butter, no shortening. Butter is so much more delicious and doesn't leave a weird film in your mouth after).
- 1 egg
- blueberry jam (recipe below that is super easy, only 3 ingredients and way more delicious than store bought)
- earl grey whipped cream (recipe below)
- turbinado sugar (for sprinkling on top to get that crunch)
Blueberry Jam (makes 1 500 ml or 16 oz mason jar)
- 1 pound of blueberries fresh or frozen (approximately 2.5 cups)
- 1/4 cup honey
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
Earl Grey Whipped Cream
- 1 cup whipping cream (or heavy/double cream)
- 2 bags of earl grey tea (or 1 large bag of loose leaf tea)
- 1 tbsp honey
m e t h o d :
*Remember to defrost frozen puff pastry before baking so it won't crack while rolling out. Either at room temperature for an hour or so or in the fridge overnight*
Earl Grey Whipped Cream
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, add whipping cream and tea bag(s).
- Stir continuously, pressing tea bags to help steep them until cream begins to simmer.
- As soon as it simmers, remove from heat and allow tea to steep for one hour (or less depending on how much flavour you like. Taste at 30 minutes to decide).
- Press out excess flavour from tea bags and transfer cream to a bowl. Cover and put into fridge to let cool until very cold. (If the cream is not cold enough, it won't whip up). You can also put mixing bowl and whisk/beaters in the fridge to ensure cream will whip properly.
- Make jam. (see below)
- Once very cold, add cream to cold mixing bowl and begin whipping on low-medium speed for a couple minutes. Stop and add tablespoon of honey, begin whipping again on high until stiff peaks begin to form.
- Put a couple metal spoons in the freezer (for testing jam).
- In a medium saucepan on medium heat, add blueberries, honey and lemon juice.
- Cook for about 10 minutes stirring often until blueberries start to burst or become very soft.
- Mash with fork or potato masher.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and reduce down until mixture has thickened (about 30 minutes), stirring once in a while. Test with a spoon from the freezer by stirring through the jam and holding it above the pot. If the jam is thick and doesn't run off the back of the spoon easily, then it is done.
- Let cool and transfer to mason jar.
- Preheat oven at 425° F.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Unroll puff pastry and cut into even squares (measure with ruler if you want to be exact).
- Use a spatula to lift the squares on to lined baking sheet so not to stretch them.
- Use a fork to poke holes all along half the squares so that they won't puff up as much as the other half. (These will be your bottoms).
- In a small bowl whisk the egg. Brush egg on to pastry squares.
- Sprinkle a good amount of turbinado sugar on the "top" pieces (with no holes).
- Chill the pastries in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown (I love to watch them puff up through the oven window. It's like they come alive and start breathing as the pastry layers move up and down). Remove and let cool.
- Dress with generous dollops of jam and whipped cream.