Thursday, April 15, 2010

Strawberry Cream Puffs with Grand Marnier Custard Filling


This may not be worthy of a separate post just because I made it so often, but I'll do it anyway. Last week has been particularly crazy, there were 3 events in a week. Right after the surprise dinner last weekend, I didn't want to do anything related to baking on Sunday. Sunday is never my baking day anyway unless I really have to, it is usually filled with Church, lunch with friends, and a nap. Yes, I so needed this and besides, I had to clean up the mess I made on Saturday (my least favorite part of baking :D).

There was a surprised baby shower in the office for our dear friend, V, on Wednesday. The baby is due on late April-early May and this week will be her last week at work before she's gone to her 5-month leave and we want to send her off and wish her a healthy baby. I was initially given the responsibility to make a cake but this plan got changed last minute because I didn't have enough time to make one big cake, so I offered to make just a small and simple dessert. It took me quite some time deciding what I would make, this part is one of the longest parts in making cake for me (the other one would be the deciding how to decorate it) until on Monday evening, my friend asked me on gchat about eclair. Right at that time I knew that cream puff is what I'm gonna make. I don't know what took me so long deciding, I was thinking macarons, mini lemon tarts, and some other over-the-top stuff, but not one time did I think about cream puff, which is weird since this was my first dessert of choice whenever I'm pressed with time. Well, it has been quite a while since I made my last cream puff too and so I was set.


Cream puffs are super easy to make. It provides a basic shell that you can fill with anything you want, ice cream, custard, whipped cream, mousse, fruit, you name it. I didn't want to make just a plain cream puff with custard filling and since it is Spring time (or at least how it should be at this time of the year), strawberry is the fruit of choice. I cheated and used Jell-o instant pudding to make the filling (reduce the amount of milk to make it slightly thicker), but you can also make your own pastry cream at home. I basically started making the custard on Tuesday night at 11pm, right after I got home for a birthday dinner and continue making the shell, filling and decorating early in the morning before going to work(yes, I have a very tight schedule).


I didn't get a chance to take a picture that morning but I was able to make a few more puffs a day or two after so that I could photograph it really quick and feed them to my nephew and niece :). It was a basic custard with strawberry slices for the baby shower but I added Grand Marnier for the second time I made it. If you notice, I always put orange-flavored liqueur (Grand Marnier or Cointreau) whenever I make strawberry desserts/cakes. I really like these two combination, just like how perfect rum is with coffee, it's the same thing for strawberry and orange liqueur :). Many people like to use Kirsch (cherry brandy) with strawberries but I have never liked cherry-flavored anything, it reminds me of a cough medicine I used to take when I was a kid. But it's another different story when you give me fresh sweet Bing cherries, I could munch of them all day long if only they don't give me a stomach problem afterward :). I'm very much looking forward until cherries appearing on the market soon.

I really recommend you making it soon if you need something special for a party/gathering, but yet simple and satisfying.


While we're at cream puff post, I just thought that I'd also mention about this durian puffs I made many months ago. The pictures have been sitting on my folder since forever because I thought it was too simple to deserve its own post. It's nothing complicated, same shell, the filling is just pastry cream mixed with durian pulp. No measurement as for how much durian needed, it all depends on how fragrant your durian is. As much as I love and crazy about all things durian, I've always been hesitant to make durian dessert, particularly because the frozen whole durians I find here in the US are not as flavorful or as tasty compared to the fresh durian I found back home. Some of them are sweet, don't get me wrong, but they lack the strong flavor or the potency of what durian should be, which is the key to make a good durian dessert.

Pate a Choux:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk (can be substituted with water or combination of both)
1 cup all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 400F
Melt the butter, milk, and salt together in a saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil. Add the flour all at once and stir with wooden spoon until it forms a ball. Remove from heat and mix until slightly cool. Add the eggs one at a time, completely incorporating the previous egg before adding another.
Place a spoonful of batter or use piping bag on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350F and continue baking for about 30-40minutes until the top is golden brown. Let cool. You can make this one day in advance and keep it in an airtight container until ready to use.

Filling:
I used instant Jell-o pudding (reduce the amount of milk a little to make it thicker)
Grand Marnier, to taste
Strawberries, sliced
OR
pastry cream (I'm not suggesting using instant Jell-o pudding for durian filling)
durian flesh

Topping (for the strawberry cream puffs):
Slightly-sweetened whipped cream
Grand Marnier, to taste
Fresh strawberries
Chopped pistachio

5 comments:

Brisbane Baker said...

Mmmmm great baking!

I too lvoe the combination of strawberry and citrus flavours!

www.brisbanebaker.blogspot.com

kirbie said...

These look so pretty!

Julie said...

Holy cow, these are beautiful!

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... said...

I love cream puffs too.. and I've got a bottle of Grand Marnier sitting in my cupboard unopened...

;)

Marianna said...

ahh! again! this is so beautiful!! i cant help but comment on all your posts (well not all, but many!)! love your blog!