Friday, June 5, 2015

Mini Cream Puffs

I saw amazing pictures of mini cream puffs on Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I was in my math class and had taken a break to check out dinner options and found the recipe. I have always loved cream puffs and eclairs. These are mini and have a layer of whipped cream with the pudding mixture. Yum.

My favorite eclair/cream puff recipe is still from King Arthur.  I posted my favorite puff pastry and filling recipes when I made hoodoos. I really like the flavor of all components in my previous post a lot better.

I did like the addition of whipped cream (the below recipe for that is a keeper) and the fact that they are minis. So fun.

The recipe did not call for chocolate but I think they were a tad bland and needed some Zing! Ganache is the perfect zing. 



 Mel's Mini Cream Puffs
Ingredients
    Cream Puff Shells:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs 
    Vanilla Cream Filling:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
    Sweetened Whipped Cream:
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling
Directions
  1. Place an oven rack in the lower-middle position. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 24-cup mini muffin tin (or a 48-cup tin if you have one; otherwise you'll bake two batches of cream puffs).
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and butter to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula until the mixture forms a ball.
  3. Scrape the warm mixture into a mixing bowl (or into the bowl of an electric stand mixer) and beat with a handheld electric mixer until the dough has cooled slightly, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating constantly, until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  4. Scoop a heaping 1/2 tablespoon into each mini muffin tin (about 1/2 full). I use a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon and do it the old-fashioned way (using my finger to scoop it out into the muffin tin). I tried a pastry bag but it was messy and hard to approximate how much I needed for each little tin.
  5. Once the mini muffin cups are filled, wet your fingers and dab them on the top of the mounded dough to smooth out any rough spots and even out the dough (this will help them bake into a pretty rounded top).
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes until the tops of the shells are lightly golden and they are baked all the way through (if there is any doughy moisture inside the shells still, they will probably collapse).
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and working quickly, use a thin wooden skewer to pierce the side of each cream puff and pull it out of the tin and onto a cooling rack. Piercing a little hole in the cream puff will allow any steam to escape. I try to poke the cream puff shell right in the middle where I'll be splitting it anyway to add the cream.
  8. Repeat the filling and baking process with the remaining dough.
  9. For the vanilla cream filling, in a medium saucepan, bring the milk and 1/4 cup powdered sugar to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and 1/3 cup powdered sugar. Slowly ladle or drizzle in the hot milk mixture to the bowl while whisking constantly (this tempers the eggs so they don't curdle and cook into hard bits). Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring and/or whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
  10. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
  11. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer (this part is optional but can help remove any lumps) into a clean bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the top and refrigerate until cold. The vanilla cream filling can be made up to a week in advance.
  12. For the sweetened whipped cream, whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks (I like to use my Blendtec for whipping cream; super simple and takes just a minute or two).
  13. Split each cooled cream puff shell in half right at the seam where the puffy top meets the smooth bottom. Spoon vanilla cream into the bottom of each shell and top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and place the top back on. Lightly dust all the cream puffs with powdered sugar.
  14. The cream puffs can be fully assembled up to a day in advance (they actually taste better if assembled ahead of time). I store them uncovered in the refrigerator up to a day before serving.

Recipe Source: cream puffs adapted from Sally’s tried-and-true recipe, which is very similar to this recipe I posted years ago, except made them into mini size, vanilla cream adapted slightly from allrecipes (used powdered sugar for a smoother, silkier pastry cream)

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