zondag 22 februari 2009

Easy Apricot Chamomile Cream Puffs

Submitted by: Faith Hopler

Cream puffs might sound intimidating, but they are easy - easier than pie! Light, crackly globes of eggy pastry, oozing with golden apricot jam and - the highlight - sweet cream scented with the summery taste of yellow chamomile. With a little planning ahead these delicious pastries will delight your dessert-loving friends!

Chamomile Cream
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons of whole chamomile flowers
1 tablespoon orange zest (optional)
3 tablespoons of sugar (or to taste)

Pastry Dough
1 cup water
5 1/3 tablespoons (about 3 ounces) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup flour
4 to 5 large eggs

1 jar good chunky apricot jam

Chamomile Cream
Simmer 1 cup cream with the chamomile flowers for 10 minutes.
Take off the heat and steep with orange zest for 30 minutes.
Add second cup of cream and chill in the fridge for an hour or until cold.
Strain the zest and chamomile out of the steeped cream before adding the second cup.
Whip with a mixer until slightly stiff, beating in sugar by tablespoon until sweet enough for your taste.
Keep chilled until use.

Cream Puff Pastries
Pate a choux is the French name for this kind of dough.
Unlike puff pastry or even pie crust, this dough is very forgiving and quick to make.
You can make them ahead and fill them right before eating to save time before a party or dinner.

Preheat the oven to 450°F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Bring water, sugar and butter to a simmer in a saucepan.
Mix in the flour and salt all at once and stir vigorously until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Now cook over medium heat, letting moisture evaporate, for about 5-10 minutes, until steam comes up and there is the smell of slightly cooked flour.
Transfer to the bowl of a mixer and beat until cooled to lukewarm, about 2 minutes.
Add the eggs one by one and beat them in until the dough is a sticky paste.
If the dough is thick and stiff, add the fifth egg.
Drop small spoonfuls onto a parchment covered sheet.
Bake for ten minutes at 450, then lower the heat to 350 and bake about 20 minutes or until there is no moisture inside.
Store in tightly covered container until ready to assemble and serve.
Recrisp at 300 degrees for a few minutes before serving if necessary.

Slice each puff pastry in half.
Put in a dollop of apricot jam, then a dollop of whipped cream, and put the top back on.
Pipe cream in with a decorative tip, if desired.
Put three on each plate and serve with blueberries or fresh peach slices, if desired.

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