Cream Puffs

Cream Puffs…where do I begin?  These are the most decadent of desserts to indulge in.  We had our neighbors over for a “French” inspired dinner and I felt compelled to challenge myself with my all-time favorite French dessert.  It turned out to be easier than expected, but the challenge came with several steps.  I originally decided to make Profiteroles which traditionally are Pate a Choux pastry filled with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with a warm chocolate sauce…yum.  As amazing as those sounded, I just couldn’t get the thought of vanilla pastry cream out of my head!  In the end, I decided to fill the Pate a Choux with fresh vanilla pastry cream and drizzle homemade warm chocolate sauce over the top.  It was a cream puff meets a profiterole meets an éclair…oh my.  One of these decadent pastries is plenty to satisfy even the sweetest craving, BUT, who can eat just one?  With two under my belt in just one sitting, I am completely submerged into a blissful sugar coma.  I encourage you to try this recipe…there is a reason the French culture is so famous for their desserts.

Vanilla Pastry Cream:          {Print Recipe}

(recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour)

3 cups whole milk

½ cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup cornstarch

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

4 large egg yolks

¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter

Pate a Choux: 

(recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa, Barefoot in Paris)

1 cup whole milk

¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter

Pinch kosher salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

Chocolate Sauce: 

(recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa, Barefoot in Paris)

½ cup heavy cream

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

2 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp prepared coffee

Preparing the Pastry Cream:

Yields: 3 cups

In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 2 ½ cups of the milk, the sugar and salt.  Bring it to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, flour and egg yolks with the remaining ½ cup milk.

Whisk some of the hot milk mixture with the egg yolk mixture to temper them.  This keeps the yolks from turning to scrambled eggs when you add them to the simmering milk.

Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the remaining simmering milk.  Doing this through a strainer will help prevent lumps later.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture thickens.

Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve.  Stir in the butter and vanilla extract.

Rub a piece of butter over the surface of the cream, top with a piece of plastic wrap (make sure it touches the top of the pastry cream so it doesn’t develop a skin), then refrigerate until cool (At least 2 hours and up 5 days).

 

Preparing the Pate a Choux:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat the milk, butter and salt over medium heat until scalded.  When the butter is melted, add the flour all at once and beat it with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and forms a dough.  Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 2 minutes.  The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the pan.  Dump the hot mixture into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Add the eggs and pulse until the eggs are incorporated into the dough and the mixture is thick.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip.  Pipe in mounds 1-½ inches wide and 1-inch high onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  You should have about 18 puffs.  With a wet finger, lightly press down the swirl at the top of each puff.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, then turn off the oven (leaving the pastry in the oven) and allow them to sit for another 10 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Make a small slit in the side of each puff to allow the steam to escape.  Set aside to cool.

Once the Pate a Choux have completely cooled, spoon the pastry cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip.  Pipe the pastry cream into the small opening in the Pate a Choux until filled.  Keep the cream puffs refrigerated until ready to serve.

Preparing the Chocolate Sauce:

Place the cream and chocolate chips in a bowl set over simmering water and stir just until the chocolate melts.  Add the honey and coffee and stir until smooth.  Set aside.

To serve:

Drizzle the slightly warm chocolate sauce over the cold cream puffs or serve the chocolate sauce on the side…yum!!

Au Revoir!

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