Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Cream Puffs with Vanilla Cream Filling

Vanilla Cream Puff
 Have you ever watched The Great British Baking Show?  If not, you should.  It's classy, funny and has very talented contestants.  They find ways of teaching you things without feeling like your in a class and it's a competition without all the intense, mean attitudes we typically see.  It's become a mommy-daughter favorite for me and Lily.

Lily wants to try and make everything they make on the show, which, while adorable is mentally exhausting!  So far we have had quite a lot of fun making desserts and breads like the ones on the show.  I learned what I was doing wrong when making doughnuts and so when we were snowed in with my family we made a gazillion doughnuts.
Choux dough

My favorite, perfected "bake" as they call them in the show is cream puffs.  I've made choux dough many times and it always turned out pretty well, however, improvements can always be made.  It really helps to hear the judges critique on the show and get a feel for what a perfect cream puff should be like.  Don't let cream puffs scare you away!  They really are fairly easy to make and are a very impressive goodie to serve friends.


cream puff
So, to get to the actual cream puffs.  The shell is crisp and light, just as it should be.  For the filling I do a vanilla patisserie cream lightened by folding in whipped cream.  You can serve them just like that or you can dust them with powdered sugar.  My personal favorite is to dip them in a chocolate glaze.  Essentially this is the same process as making an eclair, just a different shape.

Please go make these!  You will feel so proud of yourself for making a fancy schmancy patisserie.  And they will be delicious which really is the important part.


Cream Puffs

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 cup water
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper.  Prepare a pastry bag with a medium star tip.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.  Combine the butter and water in a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil.  As soon as mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and dump the flour mixture in all at once and mix well until combined.  Return mixture to the heat and stir well until the mixture is smooth, thick and forms a ball (at least 1.5-2 minutes).  This step is important to cook the flour.  Remove from heat and dump the mixture into the electric mixer and beat on low speed to allow to cool for about a minute.  You can use an electric hand mixer.  Once the dough has cooled some turn mixer up to medium-low and add in one egg at a time in, mixing completely with each addition.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared pastry bag.  Pipe the dough out into 1-inch rounds, making sure to swirl the dough upwards to create some height.  Use a wet finger to smooth down any peaks that are left as you pull the tip away (they will burn too quickly).

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until very crisp and golden.  If after you finish baking them you realize they are too soft as they cool, you can bake them further to dry them out.

Prepare the pastry bag by fitting it with a small round or star decorating tip.  Fill the bag with the cream filling.  Pipe the cream into the cream puffs by gently pushing the decorating tip through the side of the cream puff and squeezing the cream inside.  Dust with powdered sugar and serve!


Cream Filling

Patisserie Cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar

Whisk together the sugar, corn starch and salt in a saucepan.  Whisk the milk and egg yolks in a bowl.  Add the milk mixture and butter to the saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently until the mixture comes to a boil.  Boil, stirring, for 1 minute and remove from heat.  Add vanilla.  

Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap all the way down so it rests directly on the cream.  Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.  

Whisk the heavy cream and sugar with an electric mixer until stiff.  Fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream until smooth and light.  Chill until ready to pipe. 


Sources:

Cream Puffs- Joy of Cooking (I doubled it)
Patisserie Cream- Martha Stewart




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