Cream Puffs: A Labor of Love

As Angel Olsen echoed throughout the kitchen, Mida + I began what turned into a six hour process of a creative + culinary collaboration. I brought out my camera and sought to capture the method of the making, as not to interfere with her culinary artistry. Sunlight illuminated the kitchen and dining room spaces, which were filled with bowls, baking utensils, copious amounts of chocolate chips, eggs, and other necessary means.

Afternoon progressed into evening. Mida created, I recorded, the sun set, and the magic unfolded. I have included her recipe along with this series of photographs to provide a glimpse of the elaborate process, her talent, & means to try it yourself, should you ever have the muse. 

♡ cream puffs ♡

pâte à choux (the puff)

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 5 eggs

pastry cream

  • 2 cups whole milk or half & half 
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 and 1/4 cups of sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 8 egg yolks 
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

 

chocolate ganache glaze

  • 1/2 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 heaping cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

method

  1. start making the pastry cream by heating milks & 1 tbsp of vanilla in a sauce pan over med-high heat until simmering, stirring occasionally.
  2. meanwhile, combine egg yolks & sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until sugar turns pale yellow. whisk in cornstarch until smooth. 
  3. once milk is simmering, remove from heat. use ladle to carefully scoop some of it into egg yolk mixture to temper it, whisking constantly. add one more ladle of milk then return the mixture into the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula. 
  4. continue whisking constantly over med heat for about 15-20 min, until mixture is thickened & glossy. adjust your stove dial to just below medium heat if you are afraid of burning your cream. vigorously whisking the cream is unnecessary; find a rhythm while stirring & pace yourself. 
  5. when cream is glossy & smooth throughout, take it off the heat. whisk in the butter & 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla until all chunks of butter disappear. pour through a fine meshed sieve into a large container. press plastic wrap onto surface to prevent a skin from forming, then cover with a lid. 
  6. refrigerate until cold & set, at least 3 hours or over night. to save time, you can also chill in an ice bath. 

for the puff

  1. preheat oven to 375 degrees F & place rack in center of oven. line baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. place butter, water, & milk in a heavy saucepan over med-high heat and bring to a boil. make sure butter melts before water boils to reduce the amount of evaporation. 
  3. whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.
  4. once boiling, remove from heat & dump in flour mixture all at once, stirring constantly. return saucepan to heat and keep mixing until dough comes away from all sides of the pan & forms into a thick, smooth ball. (approx. 5 min) 
  5. remove from heat & keep hand mixing to release steam from dough. (approx. 3min)
  6. begin adding eggs individually after being fully mixed into dough. *I usually crack the last egg into a small bowl & lightly beat it, pouring half of it into my dough and saving the rest for an egg wash* the dough should be the consistency of a thick paste that falls form the spoon like a thick ribbon. 
  7. pipe mounds of dough onto the baking sheet. use egg wash to smooth tops of the mounds.  bake for 15 min at 375-400 degrees F. then lower heat to 350 & continue baking or another 15 min or until puffs are amber colored. 
  8. turn off oven and leave oven door slightly ajar, letting the puffs dry out & cool completely. 
 My favorite hour to be in the kitchen is sunset. I loved how the light played with the textures of eggshells + flour and the patterns that were reflected by glass bowls onto the hardwood. 

My favorite hour to be in the kitchen is sunset. I loved how the light played with the textures of eggshells + flour and the patterns that were reflected by glass bowls onto the hardwood. 

completing your cream puff

  1. fill a piping bag with the cream & snip a hole at the tip, just enough for you to have control of the cream to come out smoothly. 
  2. using the tip of the piping bag, puncture a hole into a puff and fill it with cream. (filling the cream puff at the top makes it a bit less messy to eat or display once you cover up the hole with chocolate ganache)
  3. once all of your puffs are filled, put them in the refrigerator while you make your chocolate ganache. 
  4. heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until just boiling then remove from heat. pour over chocolate. let sit for 3 min then gently stir. if there are still lumps of chocolate in the ganache, microwave using 15 sec intervals or melt using a double boiler method. 
  5. take cream puffs out of fridge & dip them into the ganache one at a time. allow ganache to set by placing cream puffs back into the fridge or enjoy promptly after glazing!!

One of the most gratifying parts of the process was adding the final touches to the puffs, dipping them in ganache & bringing them to completion. The shells were crisp, the cream cooled, the ganache melted.

Prime hour to indulge!