What does one take to a dinner party when asked to make a dessert? Well, many things come to mind such as a fudge cake, macarons, kouign amann, sopaipillas, etc… Really, the options are endless; unless you get the request the night before. And, to put the squeeze on, you’re completely swamped with miscellaneous to-do the following day with no time to go to the market. So, the possibilities here have become limited to say the least. I scoured the pantry for something I could make with what I had on hand. Luckily, I got help with a market run for some cream and immediately got to work. Cream puffs to the rescue! Big relief and as it turned out, a crowd pleaser. Crisis averted.
These gems are made extra special with the addition of miniature chocolate chips and pearl sugar on the outside for a nice crunch. Inside, it’s all about the rich and fluffy caramel cream filling.
yield: approximately 5 dozen
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
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 1- 1/2″ mounds onto a parchment lined sheetpan. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until golden and puffed. Let cool on a wire rack.
*From My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream
Spread the sugar in a large skillet or wide saucepan and pour the water over it. Heat the sugar over medium heat, swirling the pan very gently, just enough to moisten the sugar with the water.
Once the sugar is moistened and starting to cook, swirl the pan only if there are dry spots of sugar that aren’t melting. Continue to cook the sugar until it begins to darken. Watching carefully, gently swirl the pan, only if necessary, so it cooks evenly. (If the sugar begins to crystallize, continue cooking, stirring only if you see very dark burnt spots appearing, and the crystals should eventually smooth out).
When the caramel is a deep amber color and begins to smoke, remove the pan from the heat and drop in the cubes of butter. Stir with a whisk until butter is completely melted, the gradually whisk in the cream and stir until smooth. If the sauce seizes up, gently warm it over low heat and it will begin to smooth out. Transfer to a heat proof container and let cool to room temperature.
Caramel Cream Filling:
16 oz heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 cup caramel sauce, room temperature
Whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar until medium stiff. The cream should hold its shape but not be too stiff and look like butter. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the caramel sauce into the whipped cream until combined. Fill a pastry bag with the cream, set aside while you prepare the choux for filling.
Using a pastry tip, poke a hole in the bottom of the choux pastry and fill with caramel cream. You’ll know the cavity is full when the choux becomes heavy.
*It is best to prepare the cream puffs 1 hour prior to consuming to allow the flavors to permeate and slightly soften the choux. Keeping them uncovered in a cool room until ready to enjoy will yield the best results.