You may not believe by the looks of it but this is the same cake that I baked last week. This time around, I decided to bake the coffee nut sponge in foil lined ramekins to give me mini cakes. Then I got thinking about what to fill these cakes with. I'd already tried the version with ganache, and try as I might, I simply can't get myself to like buttercream. It's too rich, too sweet, just too much of everything. Now, if you dislike the cloyingly sweet buttercream as much as I do, I think I've found a genius solution. I filled and topped my sponge with pastry cream.
More specifically, this is peanut butter pastry cream from Johhny Iuzzini's Sugar Rush. I am a big Iuzzini fan ever since I saw him on Top Chef Just Desserts and I've become an even bigger fan after reading his latest book. Sugar Rush has some fantastic flavour combinations. And it's full of gems like this peanut butter pastry cream that goes so well with the coffee flavoured cake.
1 cup milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
50 grams honey
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
Pour the milk and peanut butter in a blender and whiz it into a smooth mix. Transfer the milk to a saucepan and add honey and salt. Heat on a medium flame until the mixture is hot but not boiling. Mix sugar and cornflour in a small bowl. Beat the egg yolks until well mixed. Whisk the sugar/cornflour mixture into the eggs until well combined and fluffy.
Keep on whisking as you pour 1/3rd of the warm milk over the yolks. Once it's well combined, add another 1/3rd and whisk well. Add the remaining milk and pour the whole thing back into the saucepan. Put the pan back on medium heat and whisk continuously until the mixture begins to boil. Cook for another couple of minutes so the pastry cream is well cooked.
Immediately pass through a fine mesh strainer. This is a thickish cream so sieving it is a bit of a pain. You will be thankful later though, because the pastry cream will taste eggy if you leave it unstrained. Cover the sieved pastry cream and cool in the fridge for a couple of hours.
To use instead of buttercream for mini cakes, split the cakes into two. Spread a thin layer of pastry cream on the bottom cake layer and top with the other half. Spread the pastry cream to cover the top of the cake and sprinkle chopped nuts and cranberries to finish.