Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. It’s the perfect reason to make everything heart-shaped and it doesn’t seem excessive. What can I say, I like hearts. After making my annual galette des rois in January, I asked myself, why is it only for New Year’s? I took the general galette concept of puff pastry with nut filling and came up with a Valentine’s Day version that has chocolate and toasted hazelnut cream filling.
For the puff pastry exterior, I used store-bought dough. Gasp. I know. If I could, I would make it from scratch, but I’ve since moved to an apartment where the warm temperature is not ideal for laminating dough. The dough can’t be too warm or else the butter will melt and seep out and not too cold, otherwise the butter will break through. I’ve tried re-chilling the dough but ultimately, at room temperature, it warms too quickly for me to work with it. Out of curiosity, or perhaps stubbornness, I baked it off anyway and the pastry was very flat instead of flaky and puffed. The butter, not properly folded into the dough, had melted and seeped onto the parchment-lined sheet pan. After that, I realized I could only work with store-bought, at least until I build my dream kitchen (sigh, Ina Garten’s barn), with the exact conditions I want. When selecting a store-bought puff pastry, look for one that is all butter, like Dufour.
Puff pastry drama avoided, I proceeded to shape my puff pastry hearts using a hand-drawn parchment stencil. Aside from the shape of the puff pastry, the rest of the technique is true to a classic galette des rois.
Chocolate Hazelnut Heart Pithivier
Adapted from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
Makes a 10″ heart
2 sheets of store-bought puff pastry (see head note)
Chocolate Pastry Cream:
35g egg yolks
30g granulated sugar
20g all purpose flour
10g unsweetened cocoa powder
138g whole milk
100g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
14g unsalted butter
75g hazelnuts, toasted and peeled
8g all purpose flour
75g powdered sugar
pinch of kosher salt
75g unsalted butter, room temperature
44g eggs, room temperature
1 egg + 1 tablespoon milk or cream, beaten until combined
50g each granulated sugar + water, heated until sugar is dissolved
For the puff pastry:
On a piece of parchment, draw and cut out a 10″ diameter heart. This will be the stencil for the puff pastry.
Let the puff pastry dough thaw, according to the package instructions. Make sure it is still cold before you work with it. If it gets too warm, place into the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes until chilled.
Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Roll out the puff pastry until 1/4″ thick. Place your stencil on the puff pastry, pen/pencil-side up. With a paring knife, cut the dough into a heart shape. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry. Transfer the hearts to a sheet pan and chill in the refrigerator until cold.
For the filling:
chocolate pastry cream:
Set up an ice bath. Place a medium bowl over a bowl of ice water and set a fine-mesh strainer over the bowl.
Place the egg yolks and sugar in a small bowl. Whisk until thick and pale yellow in color, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the flour and cocoa powder. Mix until combined. Slowly pour in the milk, mixing as you go, until fully incorporated.
Pour the mixture into a small saucepan, set over medium-low heat. Whisk constantly until the cream comes to a simmer, rotating the whisk around the bottom and along the edges to keep the cream from scorching. Once you see bubbles, whisk a bit more vigorously, about 2-3 minutes, until the pastry cream has thickened. Remove from heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until completely melted and incorporated.
Pour the pastry cream through the strainer into the bowl, pressing gently with a rubber spatula, to push the cream through. Add the vanilla and butter. Whisk to incorporate thoroughly. Set aside and proceed with the hazelnut cream.
Combine the hazelnuts, powdered sugar, flour and salt in the small bowl of the food processor. Pulse until finely ground.
Place the butter in a small bowl. Add the hazelnut mixture in 2 additions and whisk until the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Add the eggs. Whisk until combined.
Add the hazelnut cream to the pastry cream and whisk together until well incorporated.
Spoon the filling into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2″ round tip and set aside.
If not using immediately, place the filling in a covered container with plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. It will keep for up to 4 days. If it has stiffened in the refrigerator, place in a stand mixer and mix to get it to a creamy consistency.
For assembly: Watch my how-to video!
Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Remove the puff pastry from the refrigerator.
Place one puff pastry heart on the sheet pan. Brush the border with egg wash, careful not to let it drip over the edge, which can prevent the puff pastry from rising properly. Then, for the filling, starting 1″ in from the edge of the dough, pipe concentric hearts until you’ve filled the outline completely. Pipe a second heart directly on top of the first.
Lay the second puff pastry heart on top of the filling. Gently rub in a circular motion over the top of the dough to work any air bubbles toward the outside of the pastry. Then, with your finger tips, seal the border. Make sure there are no openings where filling could potentially leak out while baking.
Brush the surface of the pastry with egg wash. Again, careful not to let the egg wash drip over the edge. Using the back of a paring knife, score 1/2″- deep slits every 1/2″ around the edges of the dough. Freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for 20 minutes, until cold. Brush the pastry again with egg wash. Then score the top. Start in the middle and draw arcs, spacing them 1/2″ apart all the way around the dough. Using the tip of the knife, poke a hole in the middle of the pastry to allow for steam to escape while baking.
Place the sheet pan in the freezer for 10 minutes or refrigerate for 20 minutes until the pithivier is cold and firm.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Remove the pithivier from the freezer/refrigerator and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan if the pastry starts to rise more on one area than the other. If this happens, gently press down on it, without crushing the top. Bake for 30 more minutes. If it is not yet deep golden brown in color, lower the oven temperature to 325 F and bake for an additional 1o-15 minutes.
Set the sheet pan on a cooling rack and while still warm, brush the top with the simple syrup. Return to the oven for about 2 minutes to set the syrup. Then remove and cool completely on the rack. The pithivier is best eaten the day it is baked.
If you make one, I’d love to see it! Show me on Instagram @pastrywithjenn.