Cream Puffs with Mascarpone and Strawberry Filling

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

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I like to think I get my baking skills from my mom. When I was little she would throw parties, for which she would cook and bake over a dozen different dishes and I would help in the kitchen. My primary responsibilities were that of a sous chef, with a lot of prep work and an occasional foray into Russian salad making. Aside from making everything else, she would create magic in the oven.

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While I don't have the recipes (which were themselves lost in various moves, then recreated again, mostly from memory), instead I got something else. It is how to rely not on a written recipe, but on your senses, your basic instincts. Knowing when something is done just by the smell. After you've stepped away due to a distraction outside the kitchen, sensing that the cake will already be too dry when you run in to take it out. Knowing the precise limit of the force that you can use to open and close an oven door to take a peek inside, without causing the cream puff pastries to collapse. Taking them out judging not by time, but by shape and the degree of color. 

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For the recipe for the puffs I turned to what can only be described as a treatise on pastries: The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg, which runs just slightly over one thousand pages. While most recipes give the time as a guide, others just give the temperature: the book recommends using your intuition and relying on the color for baking. Incidentally, Julia Child also recommends relying heavily on your senses: for roasting a bird, according to her if you can't hear it sizzling, it isn't baking.

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Cream puffs (also known as profiteroles, or choux à la crème) are made with pâte à choux, or choux paste. Choux means cabbage in French, and it is thought that the pastries are so called because of the resemblance of their uneven surface to that of small cabbages.

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What is unique about the choux pastry is that the batter or "paste" creates steam when baked, which helps form a hollow space within the pastry, which in turns allows the pastry to be filled with almost anything. As a result, the choux pastry is very versatile. The same base is used not only for the cream puffs, but also for eclairs, and for pastries with a savory filling (known as gougères) since there is no sugar in the recipe.

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Cream puffs can be filled with pastry cream, whipped cream or any other cream you can conceive (pastry police will not prevent you from whipping up a cream cheese filling, I promise). I made the filling here with whipped cream, strawberry purée and mascarpone cheese (which is a slightly sweet, Italian cheese very similar in taste and texture to cream cheese, but creamier and slightly less sour, lending itself well to desserts). I wanted something less airy than whipped cream, but not as heavy as pastry cream. The end result is delicious, light, creamy, with a taste slightly reminiscent of strawberry and vanilla ice cream.

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Cream Puffs with Mascarpone and Strawberry Filling

Cream Puff Pastries or Pâte à Choux
Adapted from The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg
(Yield: 24)

You will need:
1 cup water
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or, lightly grease the sheet with butter).
2. In a saucepan, on medium heat bring water, butter and salt to a boil to allow the butter emulsify completely with the water. Reduce the heat to low and add the flour in a continuous, rapid trickle stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring, breaking up any lumps, until the mixture is thick and separates from the sides of the pan, about 1-2 minutes.
3. Transfer to a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon to cool slightly. Make sure the mixture is warm, not hot to the touch before adding the eggs, or they will curdle. Add eggs, two at a time, mixing quickly until well blended (the mixture will separate then come together). The final mixture should have the consistency of a thick custard.
4. Fill a piping bag with the batter. With a round tip, pipe 24 mounds of about 2 inch diameter on the cookie sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart. (Alternatively, fill a clear plastic bag with the batter and cut a corner opening of about 1/2 inch wide.)
5. Bake the pastries at 425ºF for 10 minutes. The pastries should puff up and change color slightly. Reduce the heat to 375ºF and bake for 20-25 minutes longer, until the pastries are golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Do not place in the fridge as they may collapse. Let cool completely before filling.
6. To fill the pastries, puncture a small opening with a knife on the side of each pastry to accommodate a round tip. Fill the piping bag with the filling. Using the round tip, fill each pastry with the cream through the opening, until the cream begins to overflow slightly. Wipe away any excess cream. Serve or refrigerate.


Mascarpone and Strawberry Filling
(Fills 24 small cream puffs)

You will need:
1/2 cup strawberries, cored and halved
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz mascarpone
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
1. In a food processor or blender, purée the strawberries. Pour into a measuring cup or a small bowl and set aside (puréed strawberries will condense to about 1/4 cup).
2. In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer on medium speed for a stiff consistency, 3-4 minutes. Cover and refrigerate while working with the remaining ingredients.
3. In a large bowl, mix mascarpone, sugar, vanilla and strawberry purée with an electric mixer until well blended. Fold in the whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate until needed for filling.

32 comments:

Girl with passion for all girly things said...

Wow!! These look soo delicious. Ill defininatly have to try these out sometime. :)

follow me please:
http://olichkakiev.blogspot.com/

Eileen said...

These sound perfect for long summer afternoons--pop pop pop pop popping them into my mouth. In all seriousness, I'm not much of a pastry chef--I'm in awe of your skills! :)

A Lovin' Forkful said...

These look like the most delicious cream puffs ever. I absolutely love sweetened mascrapone. I've never had it flavored with strawberries. Great idea! :)

Willow said...

These sound divine! And gorgeous photos, as well - you are a master of natural light!

Laura Rafferty said...

My mouth is watering!! Must try this!

Louisa said...

You must definitely have inherited your mums skills! These look incredible...I have a feeling they wouldn't look this good if I made them but I might have to try!

Louisa said...

You must definitely have inherited your mums skills! These look incredible...I have a feeling they wouldn't look this good if I made them but I might have to try!

Pretzel Thief said...

HOLY MOTHER OF GOD.

::plonk::

That...WOW. It looks soooooo delectable! Just...I mean...I'm imagining the scrumptious taste as we speak.

Mmmmmmmmmm.

Also, we Serbs also make "ruska salata" and "francuska salata" (French salad)...the Russian one has ham and potato, French doesn't. I eeeever so slightly prefer the French just because I'm not THAT big on ham...but love the combo of eggs, gherkins, carrots, peas, granny smith apple and mayo, oh maaaan! Heh heh.

Nicole Marie said...

The way they sit on the pan is so perfect!

Mimi said...

ohmygosh, i love cream puffs! i am gonna have to try this recipe! :)

<3, Mimi
http://whatmimiwrites.blogspot.com/

Pop Champagne said...

ohh yum that looks delicious! haha I love puffs like that

Diana said...

Wow, that looks YUMMY! I must try this :D

http://petitemini.blogspot.se/

Franka said...

What a wonderful foodblog!!!

I love your images!

♥ Franka

MyFudo™ said...

How did you know I adore cream puffs and I super love strawberries? I couldn't stand not making these....Yummy treats!

SIENA.STYLE said...

well now im literally obsesses with your blog!!.)
newest follower from PRAGUE
Kisses
http://sienastyle.blogspot.com/

From Valeries Kitchen said...

Cream puffs have special meaning to me and yours look wonderful! My mom made the most incredible cream puffs and I always asked for them on my birthday. I long for them now that she is gone. Lovely post!

Kaili said...

I could probably eat all 24 myself...
The profiteroles require a skill, the trick is to get them puff in the oven and create that hole for the filling.

Megha Varshini said...

trying this!!
megha
http://meghafashionista.blogspot.com

when BABI speaks said...

that looks yummy! i wish i have the talent in baking. nice photos dear!

Babi

Cathleen said...

These look perfect! Like little puffs of heaven! Your mom would be proud ;)

Pola M said...

Those look perfect!

parenting articles said...

that looks really delicious! plus the images made it more appetizing!

parenting articles

lizchewy said...

Those cream puffs look so good. I have tried baking some cream puffs before but mine didn't rise properly. I hope to try your recipe soon!!

xoxo
Liz

chewylove.blogspot.com

Pop Champagne said...

yumm this looks delicious!!

Anne-Claire Poupon said...

That seems so yummy!!!

Take care and have a nice week :)

Real Food Runner said...

Yummy, Kat!

Wanted to let you know, I'm hosting a protein powder giveaway-- and I'd LOVE for you to enter :)

http://therealfoodrunner.blogspot.com/2012/05/3-new-protein-powder-recipes.html

Susan said...

Hi, Kat! I’d like to present you with the “Versatile Blogger Award!” Please stop by my blog to “pick it up!” http://www.createamazingmeals.com/2012/05/old-fashioned-chocolate-cake-with.html

Sara said...

This looks too good to be true! Seriously. So delicious! xo

psychelyn said...

Aha, this one I know. Finally, I was able to relate that close to your food post :)I love these stuff. I love it with chocolate filling.

Marie said...

Oh. My. Gosh. I want some!!!:D

***** Marie *****
allthingsmarie.com

Mischna Ong said...

Oh my, this is just simply amazing! I can't wait to go to the beach this weekend and I think I just found a perfect little treat to make us enjoy dessert! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

Best,
Mischna Ong

Maker Workshop said...

Looks yummy ;) thanks for sharing
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