Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pâte à What?

I had leftover pastry cream from my pink-o-licious champagne cake. What to do, what to do? It was suggested I try pâte à choux. So I read up.

I consulted Wiki:

Pâte à choux is a light pastry dough used to make profiteroles, croquembouches, eclairs, French crullers, beignets, St. Honoré cake, Indonesian kue sus, and gougères. It contains only butter, water, flour, and eggs. In lieu of a raising agent it employs high moisture content to create steam during cooking to puff the pastry. Choux pastry is usually baked but for beignets it is fried. In Austrian cuisine it is also boiled to make Marillenknödel, a sweet apricot dumpling; in that case it does not puff, but remains relatively dense.

And King Arthur.

It looked easy enough. How could I NOT try it?

First the requested pastry cream recipe.

Pastry Cream
  • 3 c. whole milk
  • ½ c sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (or 1/3 vanilla bean, split lengthwise)
  • ¼ c. cornstarch
  • 1 T all-purpose flour
  • 4 lrg. Egg yolks
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 c. heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 2 ½ c. milk, the sugar, salt, and vanilla bean (if you use extract, add it at the end). Bring to a boil over medium heat.

Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, flour, and eg yolks with the remaining ½ c. milk.

Whisk some of the boiling milk mixture with the egg yolks, then pour back into the hot milk mixture and return to the heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, strain through a fine sieve, and stir in the butter and vanilla extract.

To keep the creamy texture intact, top with a piece of plastic wrap, making sure the plastic covers the entire surface of the cream.

To complete, fold the cooled cream into the whipped cream.

Now for the pâte à choux.

Bring ½ c. butter, 1 c. water, and ¼ tsp. salt to a rolling boil.

Take it off the heat and add 1 ¼ c. flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Return to heat until it forms a ball.

Let it cool to about 140°.

Transfer to a mixing bowl and add four eggs, one at a time. Beat for two minutes after adding the last egg. The mixture is supposed to be “fluffy”, but I didn’t find that to be the case.

Our ‘70s-era superhero glasses are the perfect size to hold pastry bags.

The only real difference I can tell between éclairs and cream puffs are their shape. I don’t know why, I just went with éclairs.

King Arthur told me to bake them for 15 minutes at 450°, then lower the eat to 360° and bake until the sides are set. But they were set and sufficiently browned at 15 minutes, so I took them out.

The King also told me to make slits in the ends of the eclairs (I missed that detail and made cuts down the side), and then return them to the oven for another five minutes to allow the steam to escape. I didn't want them to dry out, so I skipped that step. They seemed fine.

The pastry cream by now is two days old and has almost lost its whip. Its texture is more like thin pudding. But it tastes like full-fat homemade vanilla ice cream before it’s frozen, so that can’t be a bad thing.

They sort of remind me of alligators.

Now melt 1 oz. baking chocolate and 1 T butter in the microwave for about 20 seconds, depending on your microwave. Add 1 T hot water and ½ c. powdered sugar (I sifted it to remove lumps).

Oooh, aaaaah...

I really need a less fattening hobby. I think it’s time to try another quilt.


  1. MMmmmmm those look delicious. And thanks for the pastry cream recipe. :)

  2. Lol, yea quilting would definitely be a less fattening hobby! And you are right they do look like little alligator heads! Looks yummy!