Meringues & Cream Puffs

This weekend, in the kitchen has definitely had its ups and downs. Yesterday, you’ll recall that Daniel’s “salsa,” didn’t go over too well and I have the same sentiment for the Pistachio Sabayon with Strawberries and Meringues.

Meringues. Check! Super easy, super light.

Pistachio Cream. No way was I shelling out for that when I’m a so-so fan of pistachios. So instead, I found a different way to incorporate the pistachios.

I made a strawberry sabayon, minus the Marsala wine because I simply couldn’t find one bottle of it here.

Sabayon  must be French for full of eggs. I wasn’t the biggest fan. It wasn’t light and it wasn’t mousse-like. And I’m sure the touch of acid that the wine would have added could have helped so I suppose this recipe was doomed from the beginning.

We kept all the meringues and ate the pistachios over a new episode of The Last Ship, which if you haven’t seen yet, I can’t more than recommend. Or catch an episode of The Astronaut Wives Club – that’s pretty awesome too!

Next, we had the Coffee Cream Puffs!

Let me tell you, choux pastry and I are NOT besties. My first attempt with Mimi’s recipe failed terribly. The puffs puffed up beautifully and at the end of the recommended baking time I pulled them out to cool and within two minutes, they had deflated to a flat, thick, salt, egg-y coin.

What’s a girl to do than Google, “why did my choux pastry collapse?”

Naturally, Google held the answer.

Several blogs recommended bringing the milk, water, butter and salt mixture to a rolling boil to emulsify the fat into the liquid otherwise it will cause collapse in the baking process. Ok, check!

Oh and stop right here and make sure your oven is hot, hot, HOT! Get that baby up to temperature before you add eggs to the dough as the high heat is essential to get those puffs to puff!

The second suggestion was to bring the butter-milk mixture with flour to a really dry state and press it against the sides of the pan to make sure all the fat stays locked into the flour. When I did this, I noticed that the flour after a couple of minutes rest in the hot pan really soaked up more of the liquid – perfect!

The third suggestion was to make sure after the addition of each egg, which is slowly incorporated to the choux pastry is given a chance to be soaked up into the flour and dry out a bit with constant stirring which will make it really thick. Check! My biceps and triceps were burning, but it was well worth the effort!

Lastly, I put the entire dough back over a low heat to dry it out a bit more and making sure the dough was really thick and stiff before piping it into rounds. Carefully transfer the baking sheet quickly to the hot oven and let the magic happen!

These puffs took on more color more quickly, which was the result of the rolling boil from the first step and puffed higher than the first batch. But I noticed that I had to cook this batch for 40 minutes instead of 25 to get it to really bake the egg-y interior. This extended baking time could have been from the high humidity here – I’ll never really know until I bake this again in the winter months.

The final suggestion was to poke a small hole into the sides of each puff, I used a toothpick right around the point where I would be cutting them in half and letting the steam escape would also prevent the puffs from collapsing.

The result? Perfect puffs!

After slicing them open, I had a few that I had to pick out the last little bit of egg-y interior which really doesnt taste good at all then filling it with some really tasty coffee cream!

For the coffee cream, I used a vanilla espresso blend from Starbucks and added an extra pinch of salt which really brings out the coffee flavor and this was easily the best coffee cream I have made to date!

I’m not sure I would use this recipe for the choux pastry again but the coffee cream was a keeper and I certainly learned several new things!

This post participates in “Weekend in a French Kitchen,” a project where we are cooking virtually all of the recipes from two different cookbooks. The recipes from today can be found in Mimi Thorisson’s, “A Kitchen in France.” Please get a copy of the book for all the delicious recipes within! If you would like to join our group, click here! It’s a wildly tasty habit that will turn into a weekly tradition!

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