Pastry Hearts can be found in every buffalo bakery and pastry shop. If you dissect the pastry heart you find that it is constructed of strips of puff pastry laid on edge to the shape of a heart. I don’t think this is the most efficient use of puff pastry sine this limits the puff you can get and it makes for a more dense pastry. I am just guessing but I can easily see a baker taking all their scraps and strips of leftover puff pastry, laying them on edge, shaping, baking then icing to take home to the kids. You have probably already noticed that the desert I am making is not heart shaped. I did not find a lot of info on pastry hearts so I decided to go with something I was comfortable with and used a standard cinnamon roll technique to get this result. That is how we got from heart to milky way galaxy shaped. One of my favorite things about these babies, other than that they are freakin’ delicious, is that you can easily prep these ahead of time and keep them in the fridge to bake after dinner and serve warm. The icing is easy as pie and delicious.
I have to be honest and tell you that this is probably the easiest baked good I have ever made and it really can be made with 4 ingredients and three of them are in the icing. I will use a total six ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of pastry chef technique involved so you will satisfy your baking itch by making these. The truth is that other than the handling, thawing and re-freezing time involved to get to the finish line actual hands on time is less than 5 minutes if that.
Let’s talk a little about the key ingredients. We need puff pastry and icing. Puff pastry has to contain hundreds, if not thousands of layers of butter and flour. They make industrial automatic puff pastry machines but you have to crank out a lot of baked goods and a really big kitchen to justify this huge expense and making it by hand takes a couple of hours or days depending on how many layers you want and your skill set. Just buy the box of frozen stuff. It is a good thing to always have in your freezer and it will keep for months. I never make puff pastry.
Royal icing is a traditional icing probably named for the icing used on Queen Victoria’s wedding cake and probably a lot of other ‘royal’ cakes and treats. It is almost as easy to make as it is to open a can of frosting and a lot more rewarding. The egg whites used are raw. If you have a paralyzing fear of salmonella then you should google a royal icing recipe that calls for meringue powder in place of the egg white. I will keep it traditional with the raw egg white for this recipe.
INGREDIENTS for the Milky Ways:
- 1 sheet of puff pastry
- Brown sugar and cinnamon sugar in amounts that satisfy your sweet tooth
INGREDIENTS for the Royal Icing:
- 1 cup confectioners sugar (aka icing sugar or powdered sugar)
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice (use the juice from the lemon shaped plastic bottle if you must)
- 1 fresh egg white
Pull out one of the two pastry sheets from the box. It will be wrapped in paper and folded in thirds. Put a clean towel down on a the counter and put the sheet in the towel. Fold the towel over to cover the pastry and let it thaw. It could take around a half hour or so. Check it from time to time to see if you can unfold the sheet completely without breaking it. Once thawed, remove the towel, place the sheet on lightly floured work surface and cut into thirds with a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Sprinkle a small amount of brown sugar and cinnamon sugar (or cinnamon) on each of the three strips. Layer the three strips staggering each layer by an inch or so they ends wind up separated to resemble the milky way galaxy.
Gently roll the combined strips to form a log. Wrap in wax paper and put in the freezer for about a half hour. After chilling unwrap the roll and cut with a sharp knife into 6 pieces.
Put the six loosely rolled wheels onto a baking sheet. I always use parchment paper. Sprinkle with a little more cinammon sugar or cinammon and sugar. Puff pastry does not have a lot of sugar so you really should add a little sweetness to the recipe.
Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown. About 15 minutes in my oven with a thick reflective baking pan and lightly colored parchment paper. This is my go-to set up so I can keep things predictable but a dark pan and no parchment will speed things up so watch the color. While they are baking get your ingredients set up for the icing.
Once they are done move them to a cooling rack. You can now begin to prepare the royal icing sugar. Royal icing hardens while exposed to air so it is a good idea not to make it too far in advance.
To prepare your royal icing sugar, whip smooth one egg white with 1 tsp of lemon juice in a stainless steel or glass bowl with a stainless or silicone tipped whisk. Once it is frothy begin to slowly sprinkle in the confectioners sugar while continuing to whip. It will quickly come together to form royal icing. Pour this over the warm milky ways and let them cool and harden.
Every kitchen noob feels the need to continuously open and close the oven door to get a closer look at goods. Every time you open your oven door you lose a big chunk of the convection heat that is blanketing and moving around your food. You don’t want to disturb this. After opening the door the oven will likely click on in an additional and prolonged heating cycle giving the bottom of your food a extra blast of heat as it tries to get back to temperature. Hot bottoms and cold tops. Not good! Turn on your light and watch through the oven window. If it looks like it is almost time but are unsure and you feel that you need to rotate the pan since things are uneven for some reason then do this as late and as quickly as possible.