Making cream puffs again
The last cream puffs I made are so far back in my memory, can’t remember when and for a while I had to dig my blog archive to be reminded of how it turned out. But without doing so, the mere thought of the custard filling and the caramel tops remain- never forgotten.
I love cream puffs but I’m quite picky with the custard filling. I want it a certain way which is the way I make it-not too rich; not too bland.
After visiting Rachel's blog and seeing her beautiful cream puffs, I decided to make some and adapted her choux pastry recipe. I normally use bread flour and nothing but when making the pastry shells but it’s time to explore other ways to make the puffs even better. It is a combination of bread and cake flours which should improve the overall result. And it did!
The shells has a nice texture to it- in fact, someone couldn't wait for me to fill them up with the vanilla bean custard and ate some already and said they're delicious sans the filling.
The day I chose to make them seems to be the right time because we had some surprise "guests" and they had some for dessert after lunch.
I served some with just a dusting of powdered sugar-
But the rest I have to dip in caramel because that's how I love my cream puffs.
For the custard filling
2 cups half-and-half
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
a pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1 Madagascar vanilla bean
With a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the paste.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk the half-and-half, sugar, the vanilla paste, cornstarch and a pinch of salt until it comes to a boil.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then slowly whisk in half of the hot mixture. Pour the custard back into the pan and cook, whisking, until it comes to a boil. Transfer to another bowl and cover with saran wrap- refrigerate for 1 hour.
For the caramel topping
1 ¼ cups sugar
1/3 cup water
Pour the sugar into the center of a deep saucepan. Carefully pour the water around the sugar, but do not splash any sugar onto the sides of the pan. Do not stir; just gently draw your finger through the center of the sugar to moisten it. Over high heat, bring to a full boil and cook without stirring, swirling the pot occasionally to even out the color, until amber-caramel in color. When the mixture is done, remove the pot from the heat and rest the bottom in the ice bath for 15 seconds to stop the cooking.
Dip the top of each cream puff in the caramel and place it caramel-side down, with the base sticking straight up, on the other greased cookie sheet. The caramel will pool slightly around the puff and will harden and develop a foot. (When you turn the puffs over later, this will be a smooth flat "lid" for each profiterole.) Let cool until set, at least 10 minutes.
When ready to serve, carefully turn the puffs over and cut each 1 horizontally in 1/2 using a long serrated knife. Fill each with a small scoop of the prepared custard filling. Place the lid on top and serve immediately.