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A simple choux pastry dough is mixed together, then baked and filled with a subtle and sweet jasmine custard.
A wonderfully 'Spring' dessert, Cream Puffs with Jasmine Custard are a great baking project, and just in time for Mother Nature's change to fairer days. When it comes to cream puffs and éclairs, freshness is everything. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve purchased pastries from a bakery, only to be disappointed by a stale letdown. Cream Puffs with Jasmine Custard are the light and fluffy choux pastry that those of us who fell in love with cream puffs way back when, want to experience every time. This recipe for Cream Puffs with Jasmine Custard are wonderful to make at home and require ingredients typically already on hand.
Cream puffs are a very simple dessert, but it’s their elegance that makes them so perfect.
Choux pastry is a light and puffy pastry with a cavity in it. This is a versatile ‘puff’ as you can add filling of your choice to the cavities. Because they are a one to two bite nibble, and because the recipe as it’s presented here does not yield a large batch, I always try to make my filling count. As in I get really creative. Stone crab mousse, homemade lemon curd, cucumber and dill creme…really creative. Creme patisserie and ice-cream are commonly used in these puffs as filling as well. Today’s version of this choux pastry was going to be for basic vanilla cream puffs. But then I started thinking about how I was going to write about getting super creative with the filling…
The fresh choux pastries are light and crispy, and the inner cream flavored with jasmine tea 'pearls' is exquisite.
On a not so long ago trip to France, and with two full days to knock around Paris before heading south to Montpellier, I had the perfect opportunity to experience French Pâtisserie and Viennoiserie…as in I entered and sampled from at least eight establishments that I counted. The take-away was to learn to prepare the basic pastry dough, choux pastry. If I could master that (and French coffee), I would bring France back home with me. For those reading this post who have visited France, I know you know why I am saying this...
To steep the jasmine pearls in the milk, tie a sachet using food-grade kitchen twine and cheesecloth.
Don't forget to offer a quality dessert wine or Apéritif with your puffs. A late harvest Riesling is a great choice.
A true, classic cream puff is choux pastry filled with straight-up whipped cream, but I like making jasmine custard similar to the custard experienced in a Venetian éclair. These puffs are a kind of a hybrid between the two.
The experiments commenced upon my return home, to not-so-great results. In fact, no matter what recipe and in whatever incremental amounts I adjusted, I was not getting it. Now, as I have said many, many times, I do not bake well…at all. Period. However, I was annoyed enough to keep at it. The recipe I present herein is the most consistent and best choux pastry I make, but NOT because of the ingredients, rather the method. In my notes below, I outline the how and the why. FOLLOW TO THE LETTER. You’ll prepare one dozen perfect puffs, light, crispy, and tender.
Did you know that it’s super easy to print out a version of a half recipe or even a double recipe on Not Entirely Average? Hover over the serving size (highlighted in blue, it says 24 on this recipe) and then slide the the white line to the left to make less or to the right to make more. This "calculator" allows you to play until you get the number of servings you want. Easy.
For the Jasmine Custard
- 2 tablespoons Jasmine flowers
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- pinch of salt
For the Choux Pastry
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup cake flour
- 3 eggs, beaten well
For the Chocolate Glaze
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon water
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 envelope gelatin (1/4 ounce)
Prepare the Jasmine Custard
* if you do not have jasmine flowers, culinary grade rose petals or lavender flowers also work very well; measurements are the identical
- Tie jasmine in a square of cheesecloth, securing with cotton string. Place in a medium-size saucepan with milk. Bring milk just to boiling. Remove jasmine.
- Stir together cornstarch, sugar, eggs and salt in a small bowl. Stir a small amount of hot milk into cornstarch mixture; stir cornstarch mixture back into milk in saucepan.
- Over medium-low heat, cook, stirring until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and strain into a medium bowl.
- Let cool slightly, then spoon into a piping bag but do not cut the tip; refrigerate while the choux pastry is made.
Prepare the Choux Pastry
- Preheat the oven to 390° - not a misprint, 390°
- In a pot, combine the water, butter and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. When the butter is completely melted and it reaches a rolling boil, turn off the burner.
- Add the sieved cake flour to the pot. Quickly stir the mixture with a wooden spoon.
- When the flour has absorbed the water evenly and the mixture begins to turn gooey, turn on the burner again. Continue to stir the mixture on medium heat until a thin film forms on the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes.
- Place the mixture into a bowl. Flatten it with a spatula and slightly cool it to avoid cooking the egg. Then, gradually add the beaten egg in 4 to 5 individual steps. When the egg is completely incorporated, begin adding another bit of beaten egg.
* achieving the perfect consistency is essential to making choux pastry; to prevent the batter from getting too thin, add the egg a little at a time when it reaches the final stage
- Using your wooden spoon, scoop up and drop a bit of the batter back into the bowl. When the choux batter left hanging from the wooden spoon forms a “V” shape, the batter is the perfect consistency.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Dust the rim of a 2" diameter cup with flour and make 12 circles where the choux batter will be placed on the parchment paper.
- Put the batter into a pastry bag.
- Hold the bag half an inch above the circle and squeeze the batter into a round shape. Repeat filling each of the dozen markers.
- With a dampened finger, press each peak of the batter, adjusting the shape. Mist the batter with water thoroughly to help avoid drying.
- Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the baking sheet.
- Place the puffs onto a cooling rack and cool completely. Pastries will be very light, have a hard exterior, and sound somewhat hollow.
Prepare the Chocolate Glaze
- In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water, sugar, heavy cream and cocoa powder. Simmer for about 20 minutes until mixture slightly thickens.
- Place 1 tablespoon cold water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over top and let soften 5 minutes. Remove chocolate mixture from the heat and whisk in gelatin mixture until thoroughly combined.
- Set over an ice bath and whisk until the glaze thickens and reaches about 80 degrees, about 1 minute.
Assembling the Pastries
- Make a diagonal cut into each puff.
- Remove the custard bag from the refrigerator and prepare a tip or simply cut the end of the bag 1/4". Open the pastries one by one and squeeze a generous amount of the cream into it.
- Set each custard-filled puff on a wire rack with parchment beneath.
- Drizzle a teaspoon of the chocolate glaze atop each puff and allow to drip down the sides. Once the glaze has set, use a spatula to move the assembled cream puffs to a flat platter or alternatively, each to an individual paper cupcake liner. Refrigerate immediately. Cream puffs may be enjoyed right away.