Friday, April 25, 2014

Strawberry Lemon Cream Puffs

I told you a few weeks ago that I would be back with some strawberry lemon recipes! Okay, well, I said berries & lemon...and even though strawberries are not technically berries, it`s grouped into it for this case. :) Plus, I don`t lie about food! Unless it`s about the amount of sweets I eat every week. I underestimate that amount. Haha!

I can never get enough of the lemon + any-type-of-berry-including-strawberry combo. It screams bright, happy days for me. I`ve been craving these for awhile actually. But, I needed some occasion to bake a batch of cream puffs! Once filled, they need to be eaten right away, of else they`ll turn into a soggy lump. And, who wants to eat that?

Cream puffs are seen as a fancy sort of dessert, unlike, the equally delicious ice cream sundae. If you`ve never tried making cream puffs before, don`t fret. It`s simple and not fussy at all. I can barely cook and while most of this is made over the stove top, I`ve successfully made cream puffs every time.

Another reason to make these at home: total money saver. If you go buy them anywhere, they`re at least $1 or $2 for just ONE simple cream puff. I`ve seen $4-$6 for a fancy cream puff. Cream puffs require very basic pantry items, like flour, butter, eggs, and milk!

If you don`t want to make pastry cream, you can just buy a vanilla pudding mix. I`ve never done this, but I`ve encountered many recipes where the filling is made from an instant vanilla pudding mix. Personally, I love pastry cream and so do the people I know.

After assembling these pretty little treats, you can drizzle any sweet sauce over them. Some dulce de leche, anyone? Caramel or chocolate drizzles work, too. I went with the simple dust of powdered sugar since the star flavors are the strawberries and lemon.

An option: instead of drizzling the lemon curd on top of the pastry cream, fold the lemon curd into the pastry cream! I did that for about half of the cream puffs and was so good, I had to close my eyes to savor the moment. Haha~

Strawberry Lemon Cream Puffs
Adapted: Taste of Home Baking | Yields: about 15 cream puffs | Level: Medium | Total Time:  120 minutes | Print 

Choux pastry/Cream Puff dough:
-          1 cup water
-          ½ cup unsalted butter
-          ¼ teaspoon salt
-          1 cup all purpose flour
-          1 teaspoon granulated sugar
-          4 eggs
Pastry Cream Filling:
-          2 large egg yolks
-          1/3 cup granulated sugar
-          3 tablespoons cornstarch
-          2 ½ cup whole milk
-          1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-          ¼ cup lemon curd
-          ½ cup strawberries, hulled & sliced
-          powdered sugar (optional)

Choux pastry:
1.       Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with baking mat/parchment paper, or pan grease well.
2.       In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, and salt to boil.
3.       Add the flour and sugar and using a wooden spoon, stir until the a smooth dough forms and pulls away from the sides of pan. Continue until dough is shiny and smooth.
4.       Turn off the heat and let dough cool down for about 5 minutes.
5.       Add the eggs, mixing well after each addition.
6.       Transfer dough into a pastry bag. Pipe dough into mounds on prepared baking sheet.*
7.       Bake for 30 minutes. At this point, to make sure the inside of the puffs has dried out, slice each puff in half, insides facing up, and leave them in the oven, with the heat turned off.
Pastry Cream Filling:
8.       In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg yolks. Set aside until Step 12.
9.       In a small saucepan, add the sugar and cornstarch.
10.   Slowly add the milk into the pan until mixture is smooth.
11.   Bring mixture to a boil until it thickens and bubbles a little. Reduce the heat and cook, while stirring for another 2 minutes. Turn off heat.
12.   While whisking the egg yolks, add about half of the mixture into the bowl with egg yolks . Then, transfer everything back into the saucepan.
13.   While stirring constantly, bring mixture to a gentle boil for 2 minutes.
14.   Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
15.   Transfer filling into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, letting the wrap touch the top of the filling. (This prevents a film from forming.)
16.   Chill filling.
17.    Just before serving, pipe/spread a layer of filling on the bottom of each cream puff.
18.   Drizzle lemon curd on top.
19.   Place sliced strawberries on top.
20.   Replace tops of each cream puff.

-          Easiest way to transfer anything into a piping/pastry bag is to place it into a tall cup with the edges folded over. Then, scoop dough/batter into bag. Alternately, if you don't want to use a piping bag, you can also just use a spoon to scoop dough into balls onto the baking sheet.
-          I think it's best for the filling to be completely chilled before filling. I like to transfer filling into a piping bag to fill cream puffs. When I'm filling cream puffs with nothing else inside, aside from the pastry cream, I don't cut cream puffs in half. I just poke a hole into the sides and insert the tip of my piping bag and squeeze filling into the puffs.
-          Both the pate a choux and filling can be made in advance. Store baked shells at room temperature and filling in the fridge.

-          Fill only before serving, or puffs will get soggy.