A few days ago I was supposed to write a post for Daring Bakers, about choux paste. About choux paste swans actually, though I knew from the start that wasn’t going to happen. I was quite excited though, because I love choux paste. It’s one of the first great successes I’ve had with pastry. But then we went to camp, got busy, and I didn’t have time for the post. Finally though, I did get to them, if only to try out my new idea for peach pastry cream.
When I was little I loved to eat frozen blueberries with milk. The blueberries causing the milk to freeze the whole thing into one big clump that I’d have to pick away at bit by bit. As I’ve gotten older I’ve grown to love virtually all desserts where dairy and fruit/berries combine. It was only natural that I should make cream puffs with peaches, seeing as they’re in season and plentiful. It was also only natural because I’ve eaten so many darn peaches this summer and feel that this site doesn’t reflect that. Of course, I’ve probably eaten even more cherries…I don’t think this site could handle my fruit obsession, if I’m going to be quite honest.
For these, I halved and tweaked my favorite banana/vanilla pudding recipe from Raquel Pelzel and David Guas to make it nice and thick. Then I peeled two large peaches and cooked them with some brown sugar, butter, and brandy. Only after I had mashed them all up, combined them with the pastry cream, and begun piping it into the cream puffs did I realize that the pieces of peach were still too big. The recipe below reflects the changes I assume will make it more workable.
I’m beginning to feel the weight of school and obligations again. It’s only a week until it all starts up. Thankfully I’ll be able to distract myself with the wedding cake for a few days. It’ll be summer’s last hurrah!
Choux Paste Puffs
Tweaked from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1
1 cup water
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar (omit if savory)
Pinch salt (increase to one teaspoon if savory)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
Heat butter, water, salt, sugar, and nutmeg in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter melts.
Remove from heat and stir in all the flour at once with a wooden spoon. Once combined, return to medium heat and cook the mixture a minute or two until the paste forms a ball in the middle and the sides and bottom of the pan are coated in paste.
Turn off the heat and remove pan. Make an indentation in the paste and break the first egg into it. Stir the egg in vigorously. Do the same for the next three eggs.
For small cream puffs:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place parchment paper on two or three large baking sheets.
Julia says you can use a pastry bag with a half-inch opening to pipe the cream puffs. I never bother. Make sure that your choux paste is warm for making the puffs. Make the puffs about 1 inch across, and 1/2 inch tall. Place them 2 inches apart. You can brush the puffs with an egg wash of 1 egg to 1 tsp. water if you choose. Bake the cream puffs in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for 20 minutes. Julia doesn’t say to rotate them, so I wouldn’t.
After 20 minutes, remove the cream puffs and make a small slit in the tops of each. Return to the oven, which should be turned off, and let sit for 10 minutes.
Peach Pastry Cream
Custard adapted from David Guas and Raquel Pelzel’s recipe
3/4 cup whole milk
2 egg yolks
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon salted butter
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 large peaches, each with a large X slit into the skin on the bottom and washed
1 Tablespoon brandy
A couple drops or 1/8 tsp. almond extract
1 cup chilled heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks (optional, I haven’t tried)
Bring milk to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Bring a medium sized pot filled with water to a boil over high heat as well.
Meanwhile, whisk together yolks, cornstarch, and sugar in a heatproof bowl until pale yellow. Remove milk from heat and in a slow stream whisk hot milk into the egg mixture.
Pour the mixture into a clean medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Whisk the pudding constantly until it reaches the desired thickness. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla.
Once your pot of water has come to a boil, toss in the peaches and let boil for 1 minute. Remove the peaches with a slotted spoon and place in cold water. Remove the skins from the peaches and remove the pits. chop the flesh into very small pieces.
Heat the butter until melted in another medium saucepan. Add the peaches, brandy, and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes, mashing as you go. Then, if you are going to pipe the cream into the puffs with a very small tip, you should puree the mixture, once cooled a bit, in a food processor.
Add the almond extract to the mixture and whisk into the pudding until smooth. Set the mixture in the fridge and allow to cool.
Now, I was planning to fold some whipped cream into this, but didn’t get around to it. I like it just the way it is, but if you want whipped cream to lighten the mixture, go ahead and fold it in. You may have to play with the amount.
At this point, you may either pipe the mixture into the cream puffs through the slit made earlier, or you may spoon it into the puffs after a much larger cut has been made.