Monday, September 2, 2013

Strawberries And Cream Puffs

Pâte A Choux or Cream Puff Paste is used to make èclairs, cream puffs and profiteroles.  It's one of the easiest pastries to make and the end result is a light and tender crust with an interior that is soft, eggy with an almost custardy perfection!  Fillings can range from ice cream, pastry cream or a creamy seafood stew.  I filled my little pastries with a whipped cream lightened, cooked custard (pastry cream), and added sliced strawberries.  Call it a sophisticated Strawberry Shortcake! 


For the Pastry Cream...

2 cups/500ml milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup/100g sugar
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream

For the Pâte A Choux...

1 cup/250 ml water
1 cup/250 ml milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1-3/4 sticks unsalted butter (200g) cut in pieces
1-2/3 cups/235g all purpose flour
6-7 large eggs
2 tablespoons chopped sliced or slivered almonds and 2 tablespoons course sugar mixed together in a small bowl

Preheat oven to 425°
makes 12-24 puffs depending on size.

Note:  Shells may be frozen for up to a month.  Recipe may be cut in half or doubled with out any problem.

1.  For the pastry cream, combine the milk, the vanilla bean and about half the sugar in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile in a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks and the remaining sugar and whisk vigorously until the yolks are a pale color, about 5 minutes.  Sift the flour and cornstarch into the yolk mixture and blend together thoroughly.

2.  Gradually pour the hot milk into the yolk mixture in a slow stream, mixing gently until blended.  Return the mixture to the saucepan and and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Boil and whisk vigorously for 2 minutes, strain the cream into a mixing bowl, if you are using vanilla extract, add it now, stir to blend.  Pour the custard into a clean bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on to the cream, to prevent the formation of a skin.  Refrigerate for 2 hours until completely cooled.

3.  When the pastry cream has cooled, and your ready to fill your cream puffs, whip the heavy cream in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold into the cold pastry cream by hand, using a rubber spatula until well incorporated.


1.  For the pastry, in a large heavy saucepan, combine the water, milk, salt, sugar and butter.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat stirring to melt the butter. 

2.  Sift the flour onto a piece of parchment paper.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour all at once, stir quickly with a wooden spoon to incorporate the flour.
Return the pan to medium heat and stir vigorously with the wooden spoon for 1 minute, until the mixture pulls away from the side of the pan.  

3.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer.  Using the paddle attachment, add the first 5 eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed, incorporating the eggs until a nicely smooth dough is achieved.  After the fifth egg, beat the last 2 eggs one at a time using only as much as you need so that when the mixture is lifted with a spoon, a peak stands up, then drops over slightly. 

 4.  While the dough is still warm, scoop the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. At this point, you can sprinkle the almonds and sugar mix, lightly over the top of the puffs, (love the added crunch) or leave them plain if you like. 

5.  Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown on top.  Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

 To fill the cream puffs...

Split the puffs gently in half horizontally with a serrated knife.  Place a layer of sliced strawberries on the bottom half of the puff.  Spoon a generous amount of pastry cream over strawberries and lightly set the top half onto the cream.  Dust lightly with confectioners sugar, or swizzle melted chocolate over the top if you like.  Enjoy!

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