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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cream Puffs

Unfilled puffs cooling (small in back tray - medium in front)
A few days ago I posted the recipe for the basic sweet Pate a Choux - for pastry puffs. Today is baking day!  I'll only be filling a few - the rest will go into the freezer to take with us to Austin (where I'll re-warm, fill, and glaze).  Today, though, the teen is very interested in having some filled with "cherry curd" instead of lemon curd.  I can't say I'm interested in making any from scratch...and I've never seen any on the grocery shelf locally, but what I believe he is looking for is something similar to the jelly in the middle of a jelly donut.  I'll be heading momentarily to the grocery store to pick up a can of Cherry Pie Filling - I think if I run it through the food processor, it will have a similar taste, even with some cherry bits.  Actually, sounds delicious.  Maybe a chocolate ganache topping?  Similar to chocolate covered cherries in nature?  We'll see how it goes.

Small puffs piped and ready to bake

I've made the dough and piped a set of very small puffs - and a set of medium puffs.

Medium Puffs Piped and Ready to Bake

I'll go ahead and put the recipe here again so it is easy to have in one blog post - and I will make it very specific to the way I did everything you'll see small differences.

MINIATURE CREAM PUFFS (Pate a Choux)Prepare your pans - line shallow baking sheet with parchment paper - or use a baking mat (I did) if you don't need to draw out your circle sizes.  If you want to ensure you have uniform puffs - use a template to draw circles with a pencil on the parchment paper (leave at least 2 inches between circles) and then turn it over - you can see through the paper to pipe the dough!  I piped free hand today - small ones and medium ones!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

1 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick - I used salted butter today - that's all I had)
1 tsp sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs (should equal 1 cup of eggs - if your eggs don't equal one cup of eggs - add an egg white or another egg to get it to the right volume - I had to add some egg white to get an exact cup today)

In a saucepan, bring water, butter, and sugar to a boil over high heat.  Immediately remove from heat.
Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until mixture pulls away from the side of the pan. (takes just a couple of minutes). 
After flour added - it pulls away from sides of pan

Let cool for a couple of minutes to the point you don't curdle the eggs when you add them next (just about 5 minutes) OR you can move everything to the bowl of a stand mixer at this point which hastens the cooling process (me, I don't want another dirty bowl to wash - and I cooled my pan in a bowl of iced water which worked perfectly).

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition with the wooden spoon until smooth.  It gets gummy looking and then smooths out...that's when you add the next egg.  And, believe have to stir industriously...but, it's meaningful that way :-)  Be careful not to slop it out - those eggs are slick!
After egg added you work it, work it, work it

After eggs all worked in

Transfer batter/dough to a large pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip (if you are doing the miniatures - larger tip if larger puff) OR you can use a Ziploc bag (I prefer the freezer bags as they are sturdy and less likely to pop on you).  If you use that method, move the dough to one corner and twist down the excess bag so the dough doesn't move backwards when you pipe.  Snip the corner of the bag about 1/4 inch up, and start piping.
Prepared dough/batter in the bag - ready to pipe
Pipe batter into mounds - keeping at least 2 inches apart.  If you are using parchment paper, and your paper slips around, anchor it by putting a dab of batter in each corner between the bottom of the parchment paper and the cookie sheet.  It will hold it in place.  After all your piping is finished, smooth the tips of each batter mound with a lightly wet finger (put a little water in a ramekin and dab your finger to keep it moist while smoothing the tops of the batter mounds).
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes - reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake until puffs are golden brown - another 20 to 30 minutes. (the small ones took 10 minutes at 350 and the medium ones took 15 minutes at I imagine the original recipe is really pushing it for 30 minutes unless you are making some pretty big puffs).  They should feel light and hollow if you lift one off the parchment.  Mine turned out perfect...these are so easy folks :-)

Allow to cool on baking sheets placed on wire racks.

How to Fill:
Use a toothpick to make a small hole in the bottom of the baked puff.  Wiggle it around to make about 1/4" hole.  Fill piping bag (or Ziploc bag) with whatever you want to fill the puff with.  Pastry cream, homemade or store bought lemon curd, flavored whip creams, instant or cooked and cooled pudding, or as I'll be doing, a whipped jelly.  Snip the corner of the Ziploc in the same way you did when piping puffs - hold puff upside down in one hand and insert piping tip in puff hole you made - and squeeze to fill the puff with goodness.  Place hole side down on the same baking tray.  If you are using a cold filling, place tray in fridge while you make your glaze.

How to Glaze:
Vanilla Glaze:  1 cup sifted powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar), 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract, 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp milk or cream.  Whisk or stir until smooth.  Start with less liquid and add to get the consistency you want.  A thin glaze will dry to a light crust where a thicker glaze will dry in more of a dollop.  Spoon a small amount over the puff - or dip it in upside down...either way works.  Let glaze harden.

Lemon Glaze: 1 cup sifted powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar), 1/2 lemon, zested before juicing, 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice,   Whisk or stir until smooth.  Spoon a small amount over the puff - or dip it in upside down...either way works.  Let glaze harden.

Chocolate Glaze:  In a medium heat-proof bowl, place 4 oz. rough chopped semi-sweet or dark chocolate (make sure it's of good quality).  If you want a really shiny glaze, add 1 tablespoon light corn syrup to the bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup heavy cream just to a boil and immediately remove from heat.  Pour cream over chocolate and allow to sit for a couple of minutes.  Stir until mixture is smooth.  When it is a dipping consistency, spoon a small amount over the puff - or dip it in upside down.  Refrigerate to harden the chocolate.

Serve same day as filled for best results.  All cream-based fillings must be refrigerated until served.  Unfilled baked puffs may be kept in airtight container in fridge for one or two days - and frozen for up to 6 weeks.  Bring to room temperature on rack before filling after thawing.  Can be recrisped at 350 for 5 minutes, cooled and filled for best flavor after freezing.

Bon Appetit Y'all!!!

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