Pate choux is a versatile kind of pastry. Rich and eggy, it can go savory to sweet and is the perfect foil for filling.
My very first taste of this iconic pastry was in cream puff form. My family is super social and loves a good party. As we know, good food and drink are just as essential for a good party as great guests are. I remember reaching up and sneaking cream puffs from my grandma’s kitchen counter while she prepped for parties. She would make sheet pans full of them, filled with chocolate and vanilla custard. My brother and I would eat them, not so sneakily, at the kitchen table, spinning slowly in the upholstered chairs. To my kid brain, they were huge–the size of my hand–and so special and perfect.
These cream puffs are not nearly as large–so you can have 2 or 3 instead of 1–and I didn’t make a custard to fill them, which makes the recipe even less daunting. Though choux pastry may seem intimidating–the process is unusual–it really isn’t and having a recipe like this in your repertoire makes for lots of versatility.
Big Kitchen kindly sent me an iSi Mini Cream Whipper–which I used to make the espresso whip for this recipe. I’ve wanted one of these gadgets since I used one in my days slangin’ coffee drinks as a barista. It’s basically like a fancy whipped cream can, a la supermarket dairy cases, but better. You can fill it with your choice of whipping cream and control the sweetness. The whipper can be filled and stored, keeping the cream fresh for over a week, and keeping freshly whipped cream on hand for use as you like. While I love a softly, hand-whipped cream, the ease of use and the fact that it keeps your whipped cream fresh for days is a major bonus….plus, it’s pretty fun to charge the bottle with the tiny N2O chargers.
**Note: I have to say it, Big Kitchen did provide me with this product to review. Don’t fret though, all opinions on this blog are always my own.
Pate Choux for Cream Puffs
from the perfect scoop.
1 cup water
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large, room temperature eggs
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon milk
Preheat oven to 425 and line baking sheet with parchment or silicone baking mat.
Heat sugar, water, salt and butter in a small saucepan, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat and pour all flour into pan at once and stir vigorously until the dough pulls away from the pan and is smooth.
Allow dough to cool for about 2 minutes before briskly beating in eggs, one at a time, until smooth and shiny. Don’t fret if the mixture appears broken and does not absorb the eggs at first–keep mixing, it will happen. You should have a sticky, well-combined dough.
Either pipe or drop small (walnut) sized rounds onto baking sheet, spacing evenly (about 1 inch apart). Mix remaining yolk with milk and brush tops of cream puffs. Bake for 30 minutes or until puffed and browned. Turn off oven and leave for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Cool cream puffs completely before filling.
Salted Chocolate Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chips or chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
big pinch of sea salt
In a small saucepan heat sugar with water to dissolve. Do not stir through this process–swirl the pan if you must. Cook the sugar syrup until it becomes a dark golden caramel. Remove from heat and add the heavy cream, stirring with a oven-mitted or towel wrapped hand–it will bubble and steam furiously. Continue to stir until combined well and smooth. Add the chocolate, stir until combined. Finally, stir in the butter and salt. Use warm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Reheat in the microwave in 20 second bursts after refrigerating.
Espresso Whipped Cream
As mentioned, I used a cream whipper for this, but totally feel free to whip it up any way you like.
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1-2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
Measure out the cream and whisk in the espresso to dissolve. Whip the cream however you desire–whisk, jar, beaters, mixer, or cream whipper.
To assemble: cut or tear cream puffs in half–reserving tops. Fill with cream, top and refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve. Serve with Salted Chocolate Caramel.