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Blackberry Basil Cream Puffs

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Choux pastry is extremely versatile and a definite must in one’s dessert repertoire. The possibilities are many ranging from cream puffs to gougeres to Parisian gnocchi and many more! Lately, I’ve been more interested in returning to the classics than in crazy flavor combinations and new style desserts. All that said, one must keep challenging oneself and stay somewhat contemporary. This is my compromise- a traditional pate a choux cream puff with an infused pastry cream which yielded a surprisingly nice take on a classic. I made 2 versions: one with a pastry cream and the other with whipped cream. Both were worthy of a second bite and maybe a third…

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Infused Cream:

2 cups heavy cream

1 handful of fresh basil leaves

Scald cream and add basil leaves. Stir and let simmer 5 minutes, but do not boil. Transfer to a heat proof container, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, strain the cream (remove basil leaves) and place in refrigerator for later use.

Blackberry Reduction:

2 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen

1 tsp granulated sugar

zest of 1 lime

Heat berries in a pan on medium heat. Smash the berries to release their juice, add sugar, lime zest, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until berry mixture is reduced to a little more than 1 cup. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Pastry Cream:

adapted from Lenotre

2 cups milk

6 egg yolks

3/4 cup granulated sugar

4 T plus 1/2 tsp cornstarch

1 bunch basil leaves

Brink milk and basil leaves to a boil. In a mixing bowl, vigorously whip the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture turns pale and thick. Stir in the cornstarch  but do not whip further. Pour the boiling milk over the egg yolks, whisking continuously. return the mixture to the heat, bring back to a simmer, briskly whisking to the bottom so it does not stick. Allow to simmer 1-2 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve to remove any egg bits and place plastic wrap right on top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

Choux Pastry:

from Lenotre

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 tsp sugar

1 cup + scant 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

5 eggs

Bring water, milk, and salt to a boil. Remove from the heat and mix in the flour. Return to the heat for 1 minute, stirring with a spatula until the liquid evaporates. Pour the batter into a mixing bowl fitted with the whip attachment and incorporate 2 eggs. Add 2 more eggs and whip until combined. Add the last egg and stop beating as soon as the mixture becomes homogenous.

Place choux batter into a pastry bag with a plain round tip. Pipe out rounds onto parchment lined sheetpan. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until golden and puffed. Let cool on a wire rack. Cut each puff in 1/2, set aside.

To assemble:

For whipped cream version:

Whip the infused cream with 2 T powdered sugar until medium stiff peaks form. Fold in 3-4 T blackberry reduction. Fill a pastry bag with a #4 star tip and pipe rosettes onto the bottom of each choux circle. Top with other 1/2 and dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

For the pastry cream version:

Combine half the pastry cream and 1/2 cup whipped cream and fold gently until both are incorporated. Pipe onto bottom half of choux puff and place the other half on top. Dust with powdered sugar. Bon Appetit!

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