I concluded my cookie madness this week (well, thumbprint cookies anyways). Went out with a bang: making once more the always appreciated jam thumbprint cookies. Two batches of two recipes... one final "taste test"... and these favorites are now "retired" and resting in my repertoire of baked deliciousness.
SO - to bring the next challenges forward... I am adventuring into pastries... starting with Cream Puffs. Oo Laa Laa~
Making Pate a Choux would have definitely been easier if I had the right equipment. Electric beaters don't really compare to having a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. I mean, seriously.
Pate a Choux/Cream Puff Paste
2 Sticks Butter
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
Combine water, milk, butter, salt and sugar in a large sauce pan - stir until butter is melted and almost boiling. Dump all sifted flour in to the hot mix at once, stirring constantly, until the paste is smooth and slightly shiny and pulls away from the side of the pot. (Once the flour went into the mix, that all came together right quick. Then I think it REALLY started to cook so I dumped it out pretty fast.)
In a large mixing bowl, mix dough on low speed to help cool it down. This is where it got tricky with only the electric beaters. The paste was THICK already. Add in eggs one by one, making sure the dough is smooth before adding the next egg. Consistency should be soft enough to pipe, but firm enough to hold its shape. Pretty much that was fine. Just so thick it was killing my mixer, and my arms.
I wasn't sure if this would yield the same results, so I was pretty pessimistic about the end product.
Pipe. And once again, my non-good piping skills punch me in the face. These look like comical turds.
Brush down the peaks.
Smooth it all out. (I skipped this, obviously.)
Bake at 400.
After its puffed up (after about 10-15min), open oven to let steam out and puffs to dry out.
Done after 25-30min with a even deep brown color and firm feel.
Creme Patissiere/Pastry Cream
7T Sugar (again)
4 Eggs (or 9 Yolks) - I did whole eggs
Vanilla - Bean or 1tsp extract - I did extract
Combine milk and 7T sugar, vanilla bean if using. Bring to simmer.
Combine other 7T sugar and cornstarch until homogenous.
Whisk eggs until smooth. Add to sugar+cornstarch mix. Mix until smooth.
Temper hot milk+sugar mixture with egg mixture.
Pour into pot and whisk whisk whisk!!!
Seems like nothing is happening, but after a while, if you blink, HOLY CRAP! it becomes solid. Kind of scary actually how quickly it changes consistency.
So once it is "custard-like", pour into another bowl and mix in softened butter. Add vanilla extract if didn't use the bean.
If lumpy, push through a strainer.
Place plastic right onto of custard and chill.
I made this the day before - the whole process was simple and pretty fast that I didn't document. It is a pretty gelatinous custard... a bit firmer than pudding. But still creamy and smooth. YUM!
And again, my gluttonous nature has me over filling these poor suckers.
I played with the baking time, so you see the darker brown and the lighter brown here too.
Overall, this was a success for me. Edible? Check.
I was about to have an "episode" when the pate a choux went in the oven for 10 min and didn't do ANYTHING. I was envisioning having to figure out what to do with the un-puffing dough. Then they started to "sweat" and began to grow. PHEW.
Next time: Vanilla Bean. Using a stand mixer. Work better with oven.