As part of my sister’s French assignment, she was asked to present her experience of visiting a local French patisserie and ordering in French. As an avid supporter of my sister and her assignments (and not at all because her assignment involved delicious cakes and goodies), I decided to tag along. We spent a glorious afternoon sampling an array of raspberry mousses, opera cakes, macarons and other types of chocolate mousse cakes. The experience left me wanting more the next day, and so I decided to spend parts of my Sunday making cream puffs, because what can be more French and delicious than cream puffs?! (Well… a lot of things I suppose like wine and cheese, and buttery cream sauces, but shhhh!). Cream puffs are made from choux pastries, which, in my humble opinion, are one of the most difficult types of pastries to master. The pastry dough needs to be heated on the stove first, followed by whisking, piping, and baking. As soon as the hot puffs are removed from the oven, you must work fast to release the steam trapped within these puffs to prevent it from collapsing! These little pastry divas demand a baker’s undivided attention on them every step of the way. While they are definitely a challenge for bakers, the results of your labour are light, airy, eggy pastries that can be made into cream puffs or eclairs! And might I add, depending on how you choose to decorate or fill your choux pastry, it can become of the sexiest, most romantic desserts you can make for a significant other. And that, to me, is worth every bit of a challenge. So here you have it, another Nommy Noms recipe, bon appetite mon cherie!
Strawberry Vanilla Bourbon Cream Puffs W/ a Chocolate Bourbon Ganache
Makes roughly a dozen
- A dozen choux pastry puffs (recipe to follow)
- 3C of Vanilla Bourbon Cream (recipe to follow)
- 2C of Bourbon Chocolate Ganache (recipe to follow)
- 12 Freshly sliced large strawberries
- ¼ C Toasted almonds (chopped) [optional]
The Fun Part:
- Cut choux pastry puffs in half horizontally, 3 quarters way through.
- Dip top of pastry puff in chocolate ganache.
- Spoon in desired amount of vanilla bourbon pastry cream and strawberries.
- Top with toasted walnuts.
Choux Pastry (Courtesy of Alton Brown)
Makes roughly a dozen
- 1C Water
- 6T Butter
- 1T sugar
- 5 ¾ Oz Flour
- Pinch of Salt
- 1C eggs (~4 large eggs & 2 whites)
The Fun Part:
- Preheat oven to 450F.
- Boil water, butter, salt and sugar. Remove from heat, and add flour to the boiling mixture working mixture together.
- Return to heat as you continue working the mixture until all four is incorporated and the batter-like substance forms into a dough ball that comes clean from the pan.
- Transfer mixture into a stand mixer bowl and let cool for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Mix the dough ball on lowest speed setting and add eggs, a quarter cup at a time, ensuring that the eggs are completely incorporated until you add more.
- Put dough into a piping bag with a round tip, and pipe into desired size and shape onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Each pastry should be spread at least 2 inches apart.
- Cook pastries for 10 minutes, then lower the oven to 350F and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown.
- Once ready, remove from the oven and pierce with a paring knife IMMEDIATELY to release steam (or pastry will collapse!). Let cool on a wire rack.
Bourbon Vanilla Pastry Cream
Makes 3 cups
- 2C Whole milk
- 1/2C Sugar
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1Tbsp Bourbon
- 6 Egg yolks
- 4Tbsp Flour
- 4Tbsp Butter
- Pinch of salt
The Fun Part:
- Pour milk and 1/4C sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and remaining sugar and whisk until it turns a paler yellow. Mix in the flour and salt.
- Remove the heated milk just before it reaches boiling point. Add in vanilla extract and bourbon. Slowly add about a quarter of the mixture *slowly* into the egg mixture while mixing vigorously (DO NOT pour too fast or else you risk cooking/scrambling the egg mixture). Add the remaining heated milk into the egg while whisking.
- Return mixture into the pot and heat over medium heat, stirring with a spatula or a wooden spoon, making sure that you scrape the sides and bottom of the pan as you stir. As the mixture heats, it should thicken. Once at desired consistency (we’re looking for a vanilla pudding-type thickness), remove from heat, add butter and stir.
- Pass cream through a fine sieve for a smooth, non-lumpy cream.
- Cool till room temperature and chill in the fridge for up to 5 days. Place cling film over the pastry cream, ensuring the film directly contacts the surface of the cream, to prevent the pastry cream from forming a rubbery skin.
Bourbon Chocolate Ganache
Makes 2 Cups
- 9oz Bittersweet chocolate (mini buttons or chopped)
- 1 C Heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp Bourbon (optional)
The fun part:
- Place chocolate in a *dry* medium bowl. Heat cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Immediately pour over the chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add bourbon.
- Let cool at room temperature to allow ganache to thicken before use.
- Extra ganache can be chilled in the fridge for truffles!