Peppermint Cream Puffs
I’m not sure when it first showed up on Netflix, but I started watching Great British Bake off the year that Martha was on. She’s adorable, and I still think she should have won. I’ve watched on and off ever since, and like the rest of America, I’m fairly obsessed with these charming Brits who are so freaking nice to each other. As a baker, I spend a lot of my time wondering how I’d do on the various challenges and wondering why the heck the contestants don’t bone up on as many esoteric baking strategies as they can before they arrive.
One of the bakes that has always fascinated me is anything involving Pate a Choux or Choux dough, or Choux pastry. Whatever you want to call it, it’s seemed foreign and fancy and scary and unmanageable to me. The GBBO contestants are always talking about how finicky it is to work with. And if Britain’s greatest home bakers can’t hang, then what chance does little old me have? I mean, really. So, Choux pastry has just sat on my baking bucket list for years, languishing with other intimidating bakes – homemade pretzels, bagels, and donuts to name a few – just waiting to be crossed off.
When I started Sara’s Tiny Kitchen, one of my goals for it was to start crossing off these bucket list bakes. And I haven’t made the donuts or bagels yet (although pretzels are happening very soon) but I finally crossed Choux Pastry off my list, and I have to say….it wasn’t that hard. I had definitely built it up in my head to be far more difficult than it actually was. I don’t know if that’s a me thing (reformed ADD kid over here) or if everyone does this. Things are almost never as difficult as I think they’ll be.
The dough is as simple as it can possibly be. Flour, butter, eggs and water mix together and rely on steam rather than leaveners to rise. Once you have the basic dough down you can create sweet or savory dishes. I made cream puffs with mine, but I think they’d be amazing stuffed with meat and cheese as well. You can make eclairs, profiteroles (just cream puffs with ice cream instead of whipped cream), croquembouche, and they’re thfe basis of beignets as well. I think that’s the beauty of a lot of classic French foods, don’t you? The simplest ingredients create the most stunning dishes. The interesting thing about Choux is that you essentially cook it twice. Or well, you cook it and then you bake it.
Because this was my first time making them, I wanted to stick with a recipe that I knew was sure to work, so I went with King Arthur Flour – they’ve never steered me wrong before, and they didn’t this time either.
So if you’ve been putting off Pate a Choux like me, I would urge you to give it a try. In less than an hour, you’ll have a delicious treat that is sure to wow at even the fanciest dinner party (remember dinner parties?? Le sigh).
Peppermint Cream Puffs
- 1 cup water
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
Peppermint Whipped Cream
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 - 10 candy canes, crushed
To Make the Cream Puffs
- Preheat the oven to 425 F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt and heat over medium until the butter has melted and bring the mixture to a rolling boil
- Remove the saucepan from the heat (don't turn off the burner), add the flour all at once, and stir until the flour is completely incorporated into the butter mixture.
- Return the pan to the burner and cook the mixture, stirring constantly until the dough smooths out and follows the spoon around the pan as you stir. It should take about a minute, and the color of the dough wont change.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool for 5-15 minutes (an instant read thermometer should read 125 F or below once cooled.
- Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer, and then add the eggs in one at a time beating after each addition. After 2 or 3 eggs the dough will start to look curdled, but will come back together after 4. Beat for at least 2 minutes after adding the final egg.
- Using a large cookie scoop, drop the batter onto the prepared baking sheets leaving 3-4 inches between each puff.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temp to 350 F and bake for 25 more minutes. Don't open the oven door while they're baking.
- Remove the puffs from the oven, make a small slit in the top of each puff, and return to the oven for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, place on a rack to cool, and once they're cool enough to handle, cut the tops off - this will keep the puffs from becoming soggy while they're waiting to be filled.
To Make the Peppermint Whipped Cream
- Clean the stand mixer bowl after the puffs go in the oven and use the same bowl to make the whipped cream.
- In a ziplock baggie, beat the candy canes with a meat mallet or rolling pin until crushed into tiny pieces (6-10 candy canes depending on how peppermint-y you want it)
- Pour the heavy cream into the bowl and whip at high speed using the whisk attachment, and then gradually add the sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form, and then gently stir in the crushed candy canes.
- Rather than using a scoop to form these you could possibly pipe it with a piping bag, but it's a very thick batter, and it's not easy.