I'm very fortunate. My husband makes cream puffs. He makes cream puffs filled with chocolate mousse. He bakes them early in the morning and the house is filled with the aroma of melted chocolate and the smell of freshly baked pate a choux.
How bad is it to eat a cream puff for breakfast? I usually eat a healthy breakfast but sometimes I can't resist - especially when accompanied by a cup of good quality tea and great conversation. A little indiscretion now and then is okay with cream puffs. Am I right?
On our day off we carefully packed the cream puffs in containers and headed out for some fun. Last week we had record temperatures of 80 degrees and it was beautiful outside. Everything was beginning to bloom and there was not a cloud in the sky.
We stopped by a lovely farm near the ocean. They had a farm store with a wonderful assortment of food and gifts. I've never seen so many dried flowers or beautiful dried floral arrangements before. They were even drying artichokes. I couldn't leave without buying a spring wreath and some homemade bread. Once we had what we needed, we headed back to the car and continued on our journey. The cream puffs sat quietly in the cooler.
There was a line of cars waiting to get into the beach parking lot. We waited patiently - windows down and summer music playing.
It was great to walk on the warm sand again, without shoes and to have a picnic lunch. I must admit, it was quite a treat to eat cream puffs on the beach.
The days are getting longer and we stayed at the beach until the sun began to set. After the long ride home, it was great to kick off our shoes, brush of the sand ... and enjoy yet another cream puff. All in all it was a perfect day.
Cream Puffs (Pate a Choux)
(from Bo Friberg, The Professional Pastry Chef)
115 g (4 oz) cake flour
155 g (5.5 oz) bread flour
480 ml (1 pint) water
170 g (6 oz) unsalted butter
2.5 g (1/2 tsp) salt
480 ml (1 pint) eggs
1 g (1/4 tsp) ammonium carbonate
Preheat oven to 425 degrees (219 c)
Sift the flours together and set aside on a sheet of baking paper.
Heat the water, butter and salt to a full boil, so that the fat is not just floating on the top but is dispersed throughout the liquid.
Form the ends of the baking paper (from the sifted flours) into a pouring spout. Then, using a heavy wooden spoon, stir the flour into the liquid, adding it as fast as it can be absorbed. Avoid adding all of the flour at once, as this can make the paste lumpy.
Cook, stirring constantly and breaking up the inevitable lumps by pressing them against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon, until the mixture forms a mass and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 2-3 minutes.
Transfer the paste to a mixer bowl. Let the paste cool slightly so the eggs will not cook when they are added.
Mix in the eggs, two at a time, using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer on low or medium speed. After the first few eggs are incorporated, add the ammonium carbonate. Add as many eggs as the paste can absorb and still hold its shape when piped.
Pipe the paste into 2-3 inch balls.
Bake at 425 (219 c) until fully puffed and starting to show some color, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 (190 c) and bake about 10 minutes longer, depending upon size.
Let the pastry cool at room temperature. Do not try to accelerate cooling in the freezer or the cream puffs will collapse.
Slice and fill with chocolate mousse.
Note: Making pate choux requires a lot of heavy mixing by hand.
160 g (1 c) good quality dark chocolate, chopped
500 ml (2 c) heavy cream
1.5 sheets gelatin
Place the dark chocolate in a bowl and melt it over a double boiler. Remove the bowl from the heat when the chocolate is melted and let it cool slightly. Alternatively, you can place the chopped chocolate in a glass or ceramic bowl and microwave for about 1 minute. Check it frequently and stir after a minute. Allow the residual heat of the bowl to melt some of the chocolate to prevent scorching.
In the meantime, whip the cream to soft peak. Melt gelatin in microwave for about 5 seconds and pour into bowl slowly while cream is whipping. Pour a third of the whipped cream into the chocolate and mix quickly and thoroughly. Fold remaining whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Pipe into cream puffs, glaze and chill.
(adapted from Bo Friberg, The Professional Pastry Chef)
228 g (6 oz) good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
70 g (2.5 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
20 g (2.5 tbs) good quality cocoa powder
30 ml (1/8 c) Grand Marnier
127 g (4.5 oz) light corn syrup
Melt chocolate in the microwave for about 1 minute. Add the butter and stir until the butter is fully incorporated.
Stir the cocoa powder into the Grand Marnier and mix until smooth. Add the corn syrup and stir into the chocolate mixture. Glaze cream puffs.
Leftover glaze can be stored in a covered container and reheated when ready to use on other desserts.
Cream puffs are best when eaten fresh but can be stored in the refrigerator with filling for 2-3 days.
P.S. If you want to see a more seasonal day in New England, you can check out my new post on Freshness and Light. (Be sure to give the sound a minute to load before pressing play.)