These small strawberry sugar-studded cream puffs are the result of my recent trip to Paris. I can't deny that the majority of my time in France is focused on food -- eating delicious meals and the purchase of food items to bring back home with me. This visit was no different. I bought olive oils, vinegars, salt, and mustard -- the usual. My sister also twisted my arm to purchase a coarse, flavored (chouquette) sugar at food purveyor G. Detou, 58 rue Tiquetonne, Les Halles. I left this incredible little shop with two 700 gram jars of flavored sugar by ZUK ZAK -- an orange and a strawberry. When it finally became time to pack our bags for the trip home I was wishing I hadn't purchased them. They were big, heavy, and... what would I do with all that sugar? But right now I couldn't be happier that I lugged those two jars home from Paris.
Cooling Choux Pastry Puffs
I also happen to have a bottle of Monin Strawberry Syrup. A favorite little Italian restaurant of ours on rue du Sabot in Paris serves a strawberry Prosecco drink before dinner that I am totally hooked on and bought the syrup for that purpose. One thing led to another and yesterday was spent baking cream puffs studded with strawberry sugar and filled with strawberry whipped cream. With my family out-of-town, I've been delivering these to neighbors. The temptation to eat them all myself is too great!
Swedish Pearl Sugar is a good substitute for the coarse ZUK ZAK "chouquette" sugar. The choux pastry puffs would also taste fine without any sugar what-so-ever pressed on top. I just happen to like that little, sweet crunch when I bite into them. Monin and Torani both produce a large range of flavored syrups and are easily found for purchase at grocery stores and coffee shops. Don't limit yourself to just strawberry!
:: CREAM PUFFS with STRAWBERRY CREAM | pâte a choux
recipe adapted from Paris Boulangerie Pâtisserie by Linda Dannenberg
• 1 2/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup milk
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 7/8 cup ( 1 3/4 sticks ) unsalted butter, cut in pieces
• 6 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
2. Sift the flour onto a sheet of waxed paper. Set aside.
3. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the water, milk, salt, sugar, and butter. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the butter melts and the liquid begins to boil. Take the pan off the heat and add the reserved flour in a thin stream, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Return the saucepan to the burner, and continue to stir quickly over medium heat for an additional minute, until the mixture pulls away from the side of the pan. This process helps dry out the mixture; be careful not to overcook at this point.
4. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer. Let cool for one minute, then at medium speed add the eggs one at a time. Mix until the dough is smooth and shiny.
5. Scoop the dough into a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip and pipe 1 1/2-inch mounds onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. If you do not want to use a pastry bag, use a spoon to scoop up dough and make similar-sized choux pastry mounds. Leave about 1-inch in between each mound of dough. Gently smooth the tips out of the mounds with a finger dipped in cold water. Press coarse sugar onto the tops. Brushing the tops of the choux pastry with a beaten egg adheres the sugar even better than the water, but also ends up browning the pastry quite a bit, and I am tempted to pull them from the oven before I actually should. If you go this route, consider covering the choux pastry with foil towards the end of baking.
6. Place the baking sheet on the center rack of the oven. Bake at the preheated 425˚ for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350˚ and bake an additional 30 minutes. With the oven still at 350˚ and door ajar, leave the pastry mounds in the oven an additional 10 to 15 minutes. You may want to cover them with foil if they have become too brown. You want the cream puffs to be light and dry in the center. Keep an eye on them towards the end of baking since ovens will differ somewhat. I will also take a toothpick and pierce each cream puff when pulled from the oven to help the hot, moist air escape.
7. Transfer the choux puffs to a cooling rack; when cool, use a sharp serrated knife to cut them in half. Fill with whipped cream. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Refrigerate until ready to eat. The cream puffs are best eaten the day they are made. If you are not planning on eating the cream puffs the day you bake them, do not slice them open and do not fill them with the cream. Place the puffs in a covered tin and right before you plan to fill them, reheat in a 300˚ oven until they feel dry, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Cool, then continue with the final steps.
:: FLAVORED WHIPPED CREAM
• 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
• 2 tablespoons Monin Strawberry Syrup
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 5 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
• additional Monin Strawberry Syrup (optional)
1. Place the gelatin in a small dish such as a custard cup, and add the 2 tablespoons Monin Strawberry Syrup to soften.
2. Pour some boiling water into a shallow bowl and set the small dish of gelatin in the hot water. Stir the mixture until the gelatin has dissolved and no lumps remain.
3. In the bowl of a mixer, add the heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, and the gelatin mixture. Beat until the cream has thickened, adding more strawberry syrup if a stronger flavor is desired.
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