Tuesday, October 30, 2007
mmmmm Cream puffs. Basically a crisp hollow round of tender choux pastry, split in half and filled with a filling. "Choux" in French means cabbage and the pastries, before cutting, do look a bit like a cabbage so perhaps that's where the name came from. A lot of recipes call for a thick, sugary cream filling, usually made with boxed pudding. Not these. The pastry has the barest hint of vanilla sugar, and the filling is very light and not overly sweet, also with a decided undertone of vanilla. For these are filled with cream that's been seeped with a dismantled vanilla bean and then whipped until light and soft and creamy with an extra dab of vanilla sugar. Jello pudding's for kids.
I'm a HOTR Cream Puff
Preheat oven to 400F (205 C)
1/2 cup (70 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar (I used Penzeys)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
In a bowl, mix the vanilla sugar, flour and salt and set aside. Bring water and butter to a boil on the stove over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat source and add the flour mixture all at once, stirring briskly with a wooden spoon. Return pan to the heat source and stir vigorously for about two minutes, until the dough forms a smooth ball that pulls away from the side of the pan. Remove from the heat source and stir vigorously another minute to release the steam from the dough.
Let cool to lukewarm and then add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly with a wooden spoon after each egg, until it is incorporated into the dough and is quite smooth (this takes a while, be patient).
In a small dish, beat a small egg with a good pinch of salt (is your arm tired yet?) to make a glaze for the puff if you wish.
Using an ice cream scoop or other small measure, spoon cream puff mixture onto a buttered baking sheet(use real butter, not cooking spray). It should make about 12 small puffs (and yes you can do large ones but you will have to adjust your second stage cook time and let them dry in the oven after the heat is off for 15 minutes.
Gently brush dough with just a small bit of the egg glaze (optional).
Bake at 400 (205 C.) degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 F (177 C.). The initial high temperature will set the structure of the puff by allowing it to rise quickly. Bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes (40 if you're making larger ones) or until the shells are a nice golden color. Take out a test puff and cut in half before turning the heat off. The inside should be dry. If it's wet, the puff will deflate when it cools. If they're done turn the oven off and, with the oven door ajar, let the shells dry out for a further 8-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Vanilla bean whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
3 Tablespoons plus two teaspoons white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Penzey's Vanilla sugar
Chill the bowl and whisk attachment of an electric mixer. You can do this by placing in the refrigerator or in a room with your ex wife. Both would probably work.
Pour the cream in a medium sized bowl. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into cream. Add remains of bean to cream and whisk to incorporate. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Strain cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the chilled bowl of your electric mixer, then beat with the chilled whisk attachment at medium speed for 1 minute.
With the mixer running, slowly sprinkle in sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. May be refrigerated for an hour or two before filling puffs (I used a pastry bag but a spoon will work).
Cream puffs will keep for two days in fridge or can be frozen for up to three weeks.