Kokakia are mini Greek pastries that are filled with pastry cream and the tops are dipped in chocolate. These dainty little desserts look like cream puffs and are the perfect treat for any celebration!
There are a few steps to making this dessert. The step by step recipe below makes each step super simple. The first part of this recipe is the pastry cream and it can be prepared 2 days ahead of time. Make it and keep it chilled in the refrigerator until ready to use. Trust me when I say that you will need a double batch of it. Half for the pastries and the other half for snacking.
The syrup and chocolate ganache can also be made days ahead of time and refrigerated. Easy peasy! Ganache hardens in the refrigerator and can be melted in the microwave in 10-second intervals or over a double boiler (baine-marie).
The sponge cake part of this recipe requires just a few simple ingredients (you probably have all of them) and is very easy to make. I bake a lot and use my stand mixer to save time. I also invested in an extra mixing bowl for my Kitchen Aid and am so glad I did. You can certainly make these sponge cakes with one bowl but, make sure to follow these tips:
- separate the eggs and whip the whites first.
- transfer the whites to another bowl then, use the same bowl to whip the yolks. You don’t even have to wash the whisk attachment.
- follow the remaining recipe instructions and make the little cakes.
Note: If you whip the yolks first, you must wash the mixing bowl and the whisk attachment before adding the egg whites. They simply will not turn into a meringue if there is even the smallest amount of grease or fat in the bowl or the whisk.
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The sponge cakes taste best the day they are made but they can also be frozen stored in freezer bags or airtight containers for a few days.
For the Syrup:
- • 1 cup granulated sugar
- • 1 cup of water
- • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
For the Pastry Cream:
- • 2 cups whole milk
- • ¼ cup cornstarch
- • ¾ cup granulated sugar
- • ¼ teaspoon salt
- • 4 egg yolks
- • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- • 1 and ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the Sponge cakes:
- • 6 eggs, separated
- • 1 and ¼ cups (290 grams) granulated sugar, separated
- • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- • 1 and ¾ cup (230 grams) all-purpose flour
- • ¼ cup (33 grams) cornstarch
- • 2 teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder
- • ¼ teaspoon salt
For the Chocolate ganache:
- • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
- • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Make the pastry cream. This cream can be prepared 1-2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
- Combine the milk, half of the sugar, and the salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until scalding hot. Combine the egg yolks, remaining sugar, cornstarch, and cream in a bowl and whisk together to combine. Pour half of the hot milk over the egg mixture and whisk together to temper it. Add the egg mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat (whisking constantly) until thickened. As soon as it begins to boil it should be thick enough. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract and the butter. Whisk together to combine. Pass the cream through a sieve, over a bowl, to make sure it is very smooth. Cover it with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.
- Make the syrup. Combine all of the syrup ingredients (except the vanilla extract) in a small pot and bring to a boil. Mix and once the sugar dissolves remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract. Stir to combine and set aside to cool completely.
- Make the sponge cakes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F, 180 °C.
- Line 2 baking pans (18 by 13 in (46 by 33 cm) with parchment paper. Draw 30 (2-inch) circles on each piece of parchment maker and flip it over so that the sponge cakes do not touch the ink.
- Separate the eggs into 2 mixing bowls.
- Whisk the whites on high speed until frothy and add half of the sugar to them. Whisk on high speed until a stiff meringue is formed. Set aside.
- Add the remaining sugar to the yolks along with the vanilla extract and beat on high sped for 3-4 minutes or until pale and thick.
- Combine the remaining (dry) ingredients in a bowl and sift them.
- Add one third of the meringue mixture to the yolk mixture and whisk together to lighten it up.
- Add the flour mixture in 2-3 batches while mixing on low speed. Do not overmix.
- Add the remaining meringue to the batter and whisk together until combined. Gently fold the batter together with a spatula to release anything that is stuck to the sides or bottom of the mixing bowl.
- Fill a pastry bag halfway with the batter and fill the circles on the parchment paper. Each should be 2 inches in diameter and about ¼ inch high.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges are golden. Switch the trays halfway through baking so that they cook evenly.
- Allow to cool 5-10 minutes at room temperature.
- Make the ganache:
- Place the chocolate in a bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Add the vegetable oil and the vanilla extract and whisk until smooth and glossy.
- Assemble the kokakia:
- Carefully remove the sponge cakes from the parchment and flip them over. Keep them on the same trays they were baked in and brush the flat generously sides with the syrup.
- Fill a pastry bag that is fitted with a large star tip with the pastry cream.
- Pipe pastry cream on half of the sponge cakes.
- Dip the tops of the remaining sponge cakes in the ganache and place them on top of the pastry cream.
- Chill in the refrigerator at least an hour then, serve. Enjoy!