Monday, November 3, 2014

- Updating a classic dessert: Cream puffs

Cream puffs were my Mom's go-to for a quick, easy dessert that always got rave reviews. She would make a batch of 8 large puffs, fill them with a vanilla pudding/whipped cream mixture (recipe here) and top them with hot fudge sauce (recipe here).

1 vanilla/ganache cream puff and 2 pumpkin/rum sauce cream puffs

Recently I've gotten rave reviews from Griffin and Jackson ("mmmmmmmm") for an updated take on cream puffs featuring mascarpone filling and ganache topping. I make the puffs much smaller, which is better for little hands and makes it easier to stage a variety of fillings. However, when I went to make the latest batch today, I remembered I never did get around to putting cream puffs on the blog (except as a gougere recipe).

So here they are ... updated for the 21st century.

Cream Puffs (serves 4 adults plus one grandchild)

1/2 cup water
4 Tbs. salted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs (preferably from pastured chickens that get to eat bugs)
pinch of salt

Bring butter and water to a boil in a small saucepan, then turn off the burner.
Stir in flour and salt with a wooden spoon.
Add one egg and beat like crazy with the wooden spoon until fully incorporated.
Repeat with second egg (don't try to beat both eggs at the same time).
Using a small scoop or a teaspoon, place 20-24 balls of dough on parchment paper.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Continue to bake until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack

Mascarpone Filling

8 oz mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 - 1/4 cup sugar (I start with 1/8 and add more to taste)

Beat until stiff (time will depend on how firm the mascarpone is to begin with ... recent purchases of a new brand have required a lot more time since it is quite soft)

Divide into multiple batches and flavor with:
  • Vanilla (for little ones, 1 or 2 tsp. vanilla extract)
  • Espresso and Drambuie (for more adult tastebuds, about 1 Tbs. espresso powder and 1 Tbs. Drambuie in a half batch of mascarpone filling)
  • Pumpkin and Barbancourt (tried for the first time today in a half batch of mascarpone filling mixed with 1/3 cup canned pumpkin, 2 tsp. finely minced fresh or sushi ginger, 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg, 1 Tbs. Barbancourt rum)
  • Freestyle with whatever spices, flavorings, and/or alcoholic beverages you have on hand
Beat each batch to combine, taste and adjust as needed, being sure to go easy on the sugar since the toppings add a lot of sweetness.

Ganache Topping (recipe here)

Best with vanilla or espresso/Drambuie fillings
Optional: garnish with toasted hazelnuts or almonds

Butter Rum Sauce Topping

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs. butter
1/8 cup Barbancourt rum

Combine brown sugar, cream and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Keep at a slow boil for 3-5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes. Stir in rum. Note: this sauce may crystallize if it cools before using ... be sure to heat and sample before serving.

Best with pumpkin filling
Optional: garnish with toasted pecans