I feel guilty. I feel ashamed. I feel uncommitted to my blog, because it's been more than a month since I've opened up this post editor and written something. After watching 'Julie & Julia' two weeks ago (yes, it finally is screening in Hong Kong! And Meryl Streep is awesome), it reminded me that I was a food blogger too. Not that I totally forgot the fact that I had a blog, but I felt that I had neglected it. And I felt real bad.
Baking was meant to be a passion. It is still, but sometimes I simply do not have any time or energy left after school work. But trust me, after spending hours and hours working on an Extended Essay in the library, and trooping back home heaving a boulder-weighing school bag, the welcoming hot shower and cozy bed is way more attractive than say, the butter in the fridge. Which is why I've completely abstained from baking, and blogging, for so long.
Alright, enough ranting. I feel so much happier after I've vented out my frustration, and I'm sure you all understand! Thank you for the patience in reading the un-baking-related words above :)
Back to this post's main intention, which is to present some delectable cream puffs I made, the moment I threw down my school bag after EE deadline day. My first attempt at choux pastry was nearly half a year ago. The cream puffs from that attempt were good, but real ugly in appearance! Quoting myself from that time - "can't wait to recreate a cream puff that tastes as good as, or better, than the ones from beard papa!", I was indeed determined to get the hang of making a neat cream puff.
And I sort of succeeded! On this second attempt, I chose to make Cookie-topped Cream Puffs, a replication of the same flavour they sell at Beard Papa. It's a classic choux pastry shell, filled with vanilla pastry cream and a cookie topping.
My rendition turned out to be pretty identical to the store bought ones, as all my friends from fellowship (where I bought them to) were squealing "Oh!! They taste just like the ones from Beard Papa!!". Which is when I decided to grab one myself before the were all gone and bit into it. The choux shell's flavour was enhanced with the chocolatey cookies sablee-like crumbs on top and the rich, vanilla bean-speckled pastry cream helped meld the whole thing together perfectly.
So if you, like me, have a special affinity for cream puffs, please do try this twist on it! I'm sure you'll love it these scrumptious little sweets!
Cookie-topped Cream Puffs
Adapted from Chou Cream No Hon by Junko Iida (Original recipe in Chinese)
For the choux pastry
30g cake flour, sifted
30g bread flour, sifted (If you don't have cake and bread flours, I'd suggest just using 60g all-purpose)
40g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 eggs (around 100g)
1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
2. Place water, butter, sugar and salt into a small saucepan and heat over medium flame until butter is all melted and water is at a rolling boil.
3. Remove from heat, and add in the flours in one go. Mix together with a heatproof spatula until a dough forms.
4. Back on the heat, stir the dough continously until a thin layer of dough coats the base of the pan.
5. Transfer dough into a large metal bowl. Slowly add in the egg whilst mixing with a spatula until the egg is absorbed and formes a soft dough. An indicator is the formation of a 'triangle' when you lift the dough up using a spatula. Set aside the left over egg if not all of it was added.
6. Using a piping bag with a 1-cm tip (I just snipped off the end of a plastic bag), pipe around 10 mounds of dough, each around 4cm in diameter.
7. Brush over the left over egg, and with a wet finger, lightly press down any peaks on the dough.
8. Bake at 200 C for 30 minutes until golden brown.
For the chocolate cookie topping
20g cake flour
5g cocoa powder
25g unsalted butter, softened
1. In a small bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.
2. Fold on the flour and cocoa powder.
3. Press together the dough, and shape it into a log with 2-cm diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
4. Slice into 10 portions (or enough slices for the number of puffs you got using the recipe above). Place them on each mound of dough, and bake as per instructions above.
For the pastry cream
1/2 vanilla pod
3 egg yolks
25g cake flour
20g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1. Split the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.
2. Place the vanilla seens and pod into the milk in a small saucepan, along with half the sugar. Heat until the mill is just about to boil.
3. Whisk together the egg yolks and remaining sugar in a large bowl. Sift in the cake flour and whisk until well incorporated.
4. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk. Add the milk into the egg yolks in portions, stirring well after each addition.
5. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook mixture over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens into the consistency of thick cream and bubbles start to form.
6. Remove from heat and beat in the butter chunks.
7. Let cool completely before chilling and filling the cream puffs.