Today I decided to take on a new baking challenge. Cream puffs can be difficult, but if you follow the directions carefully they are a delicious treat. The texture is light, fluffy, sweet and creamy. I will be seeing Jonathan tomorrow and I will try my best to save a few for him. (Yes, they are that good! I ate four after I had finished arranging them on the plate.)
The recipe I used was from the Joy of Baking – a classic resource for all kinds of recipes. I followed the directions and out of the oven came perfectly golden little puffs of pastry. An added touch was a new bottle of Madagascar vanilla extract that I used for the cream filling. The flavour was delicious! For a garnish I chose fresh raspberries that added colour and complimented the flavour of the cream puffs perfectly.
My best tip is to watch the puffs carefully so they do not burn. After you have turned the heat down to 350F if the puffs look golden and crisp after 20 minutes, you can turn off the oven and leave the door ajar for them to cool. I doubled the recipe below because 12 cream puffs is not enough, especially if you love sweets and pastries!
1/2 cup (65 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) (57 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large egg
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream (double cream) (35-40% butterfat)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar, or to taste
Powdered (Confectioners or icing) sugar
Choux Pastry: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly butter or spray the pan with a non stick vegetable spray.
In a bowl sift or whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
Place the butter and water in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. (Make sure that the butter melts before the water boils to reduce the amount of evaporation.) Remove from heat and, with a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture, all at once, and stir until combined. Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about 1-2 minutes). Transfer the dough to your electric mixer, or use a hand mixer, and beat on low speed to release the steam from the dough (about a minute). Once the dough is lukewarm start adding the lightly beaten eggs (dough will separate and then come together) and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste (dough will fall from a spoon in a thick ribbon). Spoon or pipe 12 small mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. With a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the dough with a lightly beaten egg.
Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Continue to bake for a further 30 to 35 minutes or until the shells are a nice amber color and when split, are almost dry inside. Turn the oven off, poke a couple of holes in each puff and, with the oven door slightly ajar, let the shells completely cool (and dry out).
Whipped Cream: In a large mixing bowl place the whipping cream, vanilla extract, and sugar and stir to combine. Cover and chill the bowl and whisk in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. When chilled, whip the cream just until stiff peaks form.
To Assemble: Split the pastry shells in half and fill (or pipe) with whipped cream. Place the top half of the pastry shell on the whipped cream and dust with powdered (confectioners or icing) sugar. Leftover Cream Puffs can be stored in the refrigerator.