Cream puffs, a sweet, light, creamy filling hiding within a poof of architecture, never stop wowing. They taste as beautiful as they look. And remember this: pate a choux – the “puff” in cream puffs - is the easiest thing in the world to make; ratio of ease to ooooh!’s? – 1:10.
Valentines Day is less than a month away. If you’re reading this blog, you will probably soon be thinking about baking for someone you love a dessert – something sensual, wonton, almost profligate, something Valentine’s Day-ey. Cream puffs are all that, and they’re easy, a valentine in its way to yourself.
Filled with a simple stabilized whipped cream, into which is folded either raspberry jam or lemon curd, these cream puffs are easier to make and lighter to taste than the traditional custard filling. The whipped cream is just a billow of sweet raspberry or tart lemon wafting beneath the buttresses of the pate a choux structure. They can be filled 2-3 hours in advance. Wait longer and that wonderful egg, butter and flour edifice begins to sag, but they still taste pretty delicious.
Dust the lemon curd version with confectionary sugar; dust the raspberry cream puffs with both cocoa powder and confectionary sugar; the chocolate here may be light but it meets up with the raspberry in an important, even romantic, way.
Lemon Curd and Raspberry Cream Puffs
makes 10 puffs
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
confectionary sugar and cocoa powder for dusting
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour all at once, stirring until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until mixture is smooth.
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls – I use a very small ice cream scoop – 3 in. apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, or greased. Bake at 400° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks.
This is important: Immediately split puffs and remove tops; Set puffs and tops aside to cool. This will prevent the puffs from steaming, thus becoming soft.
Fill cream puffs; replace tops. Dust with lemon curd puffs with sifted confectionary sugar, and raspberry puffs with cocoa and confectionary sugar.
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon gelatin
2 tablespoons water
1/2 – 3/4 cup raspberry jam OR lemon curd
Soften gelatin in water. Warm water at low heat just to melt the gelatin. Do not let it boil. Let cool slightly.
Whip cream to soft peaks. Pour in gelatin, and mix to combine. Fold in raspberry jam or lemon curd.