Hey-hey! What have you been up to, my friends?
For me the last two weeks were full of adventures! At first I’ve made the most challenging decision for the last couple of years (putting down overseas move). I’ve joined fundraising campaign which benefits kids education program about importance of healthy food choices in our lives. Believe it or not, but these days there still are children who don’t know how certain fruits and vegetables look like and don’t eat them regularly. It really makes me sad.
I called this decision challenging because the amount of money I’m going to fundraise is pretty huge — $800. And for me it’s hard to reach out to people and ask them for a donation just because the cause is good (and it is!). So after several sleepless nights I came up with the idea to thank everybody who helped me in this journey with a personal postcard to any city in the world or a box of hand-maded sweets and individual workshop on how to make desserts at home in San Francisco.
From that day it started to look like a plan, but it won’t work without your support. So if you think it’s worth it, please make a donation and/or help me to spread the word about the cause. I believe that at the end all our small steps will lead to big changes!
And to continue our month of cream puff recipes, let’s talk about choux! We’ve already made similar pastries, but this time we’ll take a step further. We’ll cover their tops with craquelin dough to add a touch of crunchiness and then carefully cut the choux to show the inside masterpiece made of cream.
For the craquelin dough:
60 g flour
60 g brown sugar
50 g butter, cut into small pieces
Pulse all ingredients in the blender to form sandy mass. Transfer everything to a lightly floured surface and finish the dough working with your hands. Roll the dough very thinly, approx. 1-2 mm, and place it in the freezer for 1 hour.
For the choux batter:
125 g water
125 g milk
5 g salt
5 g granulater sugar
100 g butter
150 g flour
Prepare the choux batter following instructions from Cooper. This time we use combination of milk and water as a liquid to add our pastries even more crunchiness.
Bake the choux:
Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 F. Line two large sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside.
Place choux batter in the pastry bag fitted with plain round tip. Pipe round pastries 4cm in diameter leaving enough space in between as they will pop up. Transfer craquelin dough from the freezer and cut it using round 4 cm cutter. Place disks of frozen dough on top of piped batter, gently press to seal.
Place sheet in the preheated oven and bake for approx. 15 minutes until pastries pop up and brown a bit. Then reduce the heat to 175 C/350 F and continue to bake for additional 15-20 minutes or until they’re golden brown and baked through. Cooked pastry shells should feel dry and light.
Transfer choux to the wire rack and let them cool completely.
For the vanilla cream:
250 g milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
50 g sugar
3 egg yolks
22 g cornstarch
20 g butter
200 g heavy cream, from refrigerator
40 g powdered sugar
In a heavy bottom pan combine milk and vanilla extract. Heat over medium heat until mixture becomes hot but not boiling, the process will take around 3 minutes.
Meanwhile in a separate bowl combine sugar and cornstarch, whisk for a moment. In another bowl whisk thoroughly egg yolks. Combine eggs and dry ingredients and whisk together until mixture is light and homogenous.
Once liquid is hot enough, pour 1/3 of it into eggs mixture and whisk well until combined. Add another portion of milk and whisk again. Pour the remaining milk and return the whole mixture back to the pan. Heat over medium heat stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove the pan from the heat and thicken mixture by whisking it for about 2-3 minutes. Return to the heat and whisk vigorously at a boil for another 30 seconds.
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in pieces of butter into cream, until it’s smooth and homogenous. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and let it cool to the room temperature. Place in the refrigerator.
Whisk heavy cream with powdered sugar until it holds stiff peaks. Smooth chilled pastry cream with a whisk and then carefully fold heavy cream into it. Transfer vanilla cream into a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip and place into refrigerator.
For the macerated strawberries:
10 large strawberries
1/2 tsp maple syrup
zest of 1/2 lemon
Hull and cut strawberries into pieces, add maple syrup and lemon zest. Toss well and let them stand for 5 minutes.
Assemble the choux:
With a serrated knife carefully cut top of the baked choux. Using round cutter trim edges of the top piece.
Pipe vanilla cream to cover the bottom of the pastry and place 1/2 tsp of macerated berries inside. Cover the strawberries with a cream and then place cut top. Finish the decoration with a small amount of cream and fresh strawberry.
As always, the recipe seems long and intimidating when in words, but fun and entertaining when in action. Will you make it? 🙂