Thursday, January 9, 2014

Peach Pastry Braid!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year! I certainly did! Usually my holidays are quiet but this year I decided to make a small change, I decided to go international! Not that I mind spending a quite holiday at home but traveling has always been a love of mine so why not?! Now that I've gotten a taste of exploring the world, I may have to attempt this again...but that's quite a bit away, so let's just spend some time reflecting the vacation that just occurred: my adventures in Australia/New Zealand.

Unfortunately there is no possible way to post an entire month of adventures into one post so they will probably be spread out amongst the next few posts.

Getting to my destination was a bit of an adventure in itself, instead of flying out on Dec 12th going from SFO > Auckland > Melbourne, there was an engine fuel leak on the plane and it was delayed (where I got to spend a glorious night in SF) until Dec 13th and my flight became SFO > Hawaii > Fiji > Auckland > Melbourne so that the plane could refuel every 5-6 hours... I've never had a longer flight in my life! I guess there were many firsts for this trip... wouldn't mind skipping that part though. 

Finally after 3 days (because I also lost a day flying across the international date line...) of travel time I made it to Melbourne, Australia! 

Here are a few highlights to start:
High tea with delicious little desserts @ The Waiting Room! Literally a couple of hours after I landed. My super delayed flight might had something to do with planning things so close to just landing... but seriously who can say no to food?! (Please forgive my not so great pictures, they clearly reflect my not quite oriented state of mind that day) 

Hiking @ Brisbane Ranges National Park:
Results in meeting a wild koala (I also couldn't help myself and named him Charlie)! What's more awesome, I tracked him down with his droppings (skills or pure luck? totally not important...). There was a sign along the tracks showing different types of animal droppings...I may have made it a personal goal to memorize the one for koalas after I found out there might be wild ones for me to find... and I found one! 

Dinner @ Rosetta:
Pure delicious! The pictures should also just speak for itself. Yum. 

Roaming thru Royal Botanical Gardens:  
Pretty nature things, there's never a wrong there.

Conquering heights @ Eureka Sky Deck:
A 360 degree view of Melbourne from 88 stories high!

And finally recipe! Peach pastry braid, I had made them for a work brunch and they were so popular, I had to make them again for an encore. 


Peach Pastry Braid
Ingredients:
For peaches:
  • 2 medium size peaches, thinly sliced
  • 2 puff pastry sheets (1 package generally will come with 2)
  • ¼ cup sugar (1/8 brown, 1/8 white sugar is best)
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp grand mariner (optional)
Candied pecans (optional)
  • ½ cups of  chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • ½ tbsp of butter
  • ½ tsp of vanilla
Caramel drizzle:
Taken from Martha Stewart

Makes 2/3 cup:

I eyeballed everything to make a smaller portion but feel free to use this as a reference:
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (I find that whole milk works too)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Procedure:
Peaches:
  1. Combine all the ingredients and peaches into a bowl and mix. Set aside.
Candied pecans:
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the pecans onto the sheet. Bake in oven @ 325 degrees for 10 minutes (stirring once)
  2. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan or 8in skillet over medium heat melt about ½ of the sugar, shaking pan to evenly melt the sugar (syrup-like), only stir to keep from over browning. Stir in remaining sugar as it melts.
  3. Reduce heat to low and continue melting until a light golden brown
  4. Add butter and vanilla to melted sugar, stirring until everything is well mixed
  5. Turn off heat, add warm nuts, stirring to coat.
  6. Pour and spread nut mixture onto a baking sheet and cool completely.
Braid assembly: 

  1. Thaw puff pastry via instructions on package (normally can be done by moving the puff pastry from freezer to the fridge and let it sit over night OR thaw for 2 hours in room temperature).
  2. Unfold the pastry sheet, starting with one side of the pastry, with a knife or kitchen shears, in parallel slants cut the flaps about 1/3 into the sheet (about 1 inch apart) and then repeat on the opposite side of the sheet making sure they line up with the other side. 
  3. Sprinkle a bit of brown sugar onto the middle of the pastry sheet and place the peach slices down the middle of the pastry sheet.
  4. From the top of the pastry, in alternations, fold the flaps down.
  5. Set oven to 400 degrees and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Once the pastry is done, drizzle on caramel sauce and top with chopped pecans.
For sauce:
  1. In a small saucepan, bring sugar, butter, and cream to a boil over medium-high. Cook, stirring, until butter melts and mixture is smooth. Reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla and salt.

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