Cream puffs with vanilla cream and fresh berries (AMY BONCHUK / FOR THE SUN)
I hope this week’s article will be read on a sunnier Saturday than past. With localized flooding and acres of green slowly turning yellow, farmers and gardeners throughout the region are more than ready for a little sunshine.
While the sun may not be shining outside as I write this; it is however, shining in my deliciously special kitchen. For those readers who have been following my column, you know that I struggled with a camping stove and barbecue all winter to enjoy the fruits of our labour in my most excellent new kitchen.
While the kitchen is new to me, we purchased the entire kitchen used. I found a kitchen beyond my wildest dreams and I found it on Kijiji. The theme of my home is centred squarely in reclamation; think: reduce, reuse, reinvent. Even the house itself; last October my uncle had heard the details for a ranch-style bungalow on ‘Swap and Shop’, 880 CKLQ. So I quickly phoned, got the directions, and drove up there. Its funny how you ‘just know’ sometimes; we left a deposit that same night.
So now that the kitchen is hooked up and I have test-cooked the heck out of it, I am stretching my baking legs. Last week, I was asked to bring a dessert to a wedding shower for my soon-to-be sister-in-law, so I did something that was cute, elegant, and crowd-pleasing.
Profiteroles are great; you can make them ahead and store them in the freezer; just thaw, fill, garnish, and serve. For the shower I filled them with the bride’s favourite chocolate mousse and topped them with a quartered fresh cherry. For this week’s article I filled them with a mixture of cream cheese, whipped cream, and flavourings. As we approach Manitoba’s berry season, these French treats are even more suiting to have on hand. Their simplicity allows for the filling to be the star attraction, but as a vessel, they are impressively convenient.
Simple ingredients: the secret to this recipe is to follow the procedure and you will most certainly get lots of puff for the cream or filling of your choice. Ice cream, pudding, or whipped creams are great options, garnished with preserves, fresh fruit, chocolate sauce, or caramel to add a little flair. On the opposite end of the spectrum these also make great savoury appetizer vessels as well! Fill with smoked salmon mousse, grilled veggie salsa, or blue cheese with pear compote ... I find great joy in brainstorming all the fillings that would be fantastic is this most versatile little vessel.
Reduce, re-use, re-invent; a great source of inspiration for my homestead, but also a great mantra for discovering your culinary imagination and developing new and exciting fillings for the classic profiteroles.
Cream puffs with vanilla cream and fresh berries
- 1 cup water
- 5 1/3 Tbsp (about 3 ounces) butter
- 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp sugar
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp vanilla, optional (omit if you want to use the profiteroles for savoury applications.)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 4 to 5 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 450 F. If using stone baking ware, place them in the oven to preheat as well. I achieved best results and ultimate puff when I piped onto hot baking stones. **Timing is key!! Have a hot oven ready and get the dough into the oven quickly for maximum rise. Keep the door closed for the first 10 minutes to ensure they don’t fall.
Set up a mixer with the paddle attachment.
Combine the water, butter, vanilla, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, add the flour all at once, and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan is clean, with no dough sticking to it. The dough should be glossy and smooth but still damp.
Enough moisture must evaporate from the dough to allow it to absorb more fat when the eggs are added. Continue to stir for about 5 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent the dough from coloring. A thin coating will form on the bottom and sides of the pan. When enough moisture has evaporated, steam will rise from the dough and there will be the nutty aroma of cooked flour.
Immediately transfer the dough to the mixer bowl and mix for a minute or two to release some of the heat in the dough. Mix until sufficient heat has been released otherwise it will scramble the eggs.
With the mixer on medium speed, add eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next one. After the third egg, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn off the machine. Lift some of the dough on a rubber spatula, then turn the spatula to let it run off: It should fall off the spatula very slowly; if it doesn't move at all or is very dry and falls off in one clump, beat in each additional egg as needed to obtain the desired consistency. Too many eggs and the puffs will collapse.
Place the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe consistent sized drops of dough and leave about 1 1/2 inches between them, as they will expand when baked. You can also use a measure scoop or melon-baller to get a consistent size.
Place pans in oven; reduce heat to 425 F and bake the puffs for 15 minutes. Rotate the pans, turn the oven down to 350 F, and bake 15 minutes more. Remove one puff and break it open: It should be hollow inside and not gooey or eggy; if it is still moist, return it to the oven and check in 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 F to finish baking to dry them out. Cool the puffs completely on the baking sheet.
- 1 L whipping cream, cold.
- 125g of cream cheese, softened.
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 tsp of lemon juice
- 3 TBSP of sugar
- Berries of choice
Add the cream cheese and 2 Tbsp of the sugar and whip until smooth. Remove from mixing bowl, set aside. Add cream and remaining sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice to the mixer. Mix on medium speed until combined and slightly thicker. Add cream cheese back to mixing bowl and turn mixer onto med-high. Whip until firm peaks. Place in a piping bag with a small star tip.
Cut the top off of the cooled puffs and pipe with filling. Garnish and serve.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 23, 2012