Last week I reached my seasonal fruit saturation point. I didn't think that it would ever be possible, but surprise of all surprises, I'm pretty sure I discovered that too much of a good thing can be well, too much. Rich creamy pastry has been calling my name for some time, and I have never been known to not heed that particular call.
Whilst trying to remember the last time I posted something of a creamy, pastry nature I asked my boys for their input and ideas about what to make next. The hands down, unanimous decision: Cream Puffs. With nary a berry, or stone fruit in sight I set about the surprisingly quick task of whipping up the batter for these delightful little treats. Basically a pate a choux dough, piped, baked to a crisp and filled with almond scented whipped cream these are light, airy and a perfect antidote to fruity excess.
Growing up, my aunts and grandmother made Kringle, a Scandinavian dessert that is basically a pate a choux dough, spread into a wide circle, baked then topped with almond icing and garnished with a sprinkling of slivered almonds. These puffs remind me of that pastry. There are many derivations of Kringle (pronounced Kringla, in our household) but this one is the one I'm most accustomed to and therefore it holds a special place in my heart. I promise to make one at a later date and blog about it. It's too good, too easy not to share.
I have fond memories of eating this luscious dessert, thin almond icing running down my fingers, crisp, puffy pastry melting in my mouth. These cream puffs are a perfect marriage of the traditional cream puff combined with the flavors of my Kringle influenced youth.
On a wholly unrelated note, I must say that this summer has flown quickly by. Full to the brim with trips to town, the country, mountains, sound and just about everywhere in between, I've found myself often wanting to bring it all to a slow rolling halt, in order to fully savor the moments. Sometimes it's been a struggle to be fully present in each moment, then alternatively I've been fully immersed, up to my eyeballs enjoying my time with my family, relishing these days that seem halcyon in nature.
The days that we have spent actually doing the simplest of things are in my opinion some of the best. We've had trips to the farm to buy canning tomatoes and fresh corn, farmer's market visits, people and lighting storm watching, lunches spent gorging on spicy sausage and pepper stuffed baguettes, an afternoon relishing Molly Moon's Salted Caramel, Balsamic Strawberry and Earl Grey ice cream, and a wild and crazy day fishing for Dungeness Crab. Perfectly busy, perfectly simple, perfectly summer. I'm not at all ready for it to end.
I thought I'd share with you a few snaps of our summer, and really no self respecting food blog should ever get away without the obligatory farm and farmers market photo montage, right? Enjoy these last few weeks of summer friends!
Almond Cream Puffs
8 1/2 oz. Whole Milk
7 oz. Water
2 sticks ( 8 oz) Unsalted Butter at room temperature
2 T. Sugar
1 3/4 C. or 8 3/4 oz. All Purpose Flour
1/4 C. Sugar for sprinkling
Confectioners sugar and sliced almonds for garnish
1 Pint or 16 oz. Heavy Whipping Cream
4 T. Confectioners Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Almond extract
In a large saucepan, combine the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt. Bring to a slow simmer over medium heat and let the butter fully melt. Remove from heat and add the flour. Whisk the flour into the liquid and return to the heat for one minute, stirring continuously.
Remove from heat and place the mixture in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on and add the eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate. Once the batter is smooth and no lumps remain, place the mixture in a large piping bag. Use a large round tip or if you'd like snip a hole in the bottom of the bag, about 1/2 inch in diameter.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a two baking sheets with parchment and pipe the batter into rounds, about 3 inches in diameter. I flipped the parchment over prior to piping and using a drinking glass, traced the rounds with a pencil. I then flipped the parchment over and piped within the traced rounds. You should be able to safely get 12 rounds on each pan. Pipe the second pan of pastries only after the first have come out of the oven.
Bake the choux rounds for 35-40 minutes, until a very dark golden brown. Allow to cool completely before filling.
Whip the cream, sugar and extract until stiff peaks form. Fill a pastry bag that has been fitted with a small round tip. Pierce a small hole in the bottom of the pastry, ( I used a chopstick) and insert the pastry tip. Fill each puff with cream, sprinkle with confectioners sugar and almonds and serve.
These can be made up to 6 hours in advance. You can also freeze the puffs prior to filling with whipped cream if you need to make them ahead. Fill just prior to serving.
Recipe adapted from Manger