Tips: This is a dessert for a partypreferably an informal
gathering, as it is not neat or tidy once you cut it. A giant cream
puff is made in the shape of an oval track. After baking, its
split, cooled, and filled with both chocolate pastry cream and whipped
cream; a bit of chocolate sauce or syrup is drizzled on top as a
final touch. May I suggest a very light meal beforehand?
Most pastry creams use flour as at least part of the thickening,
but I dont like the texture that results from this, so I use
all cornstarch, technically making this pastry cream a pudding.
For the chocolate, you must use a good-quality brand, but you have
the option of playing with the flavor a bit. You can use all semisweet,
a mixture of semisweet and bittersweet, or all bittersweet. The
usual cautions about cornstarch-based puddings apply here: dont
overheat or overstir.
I have seen numerous recipes claiming that the pastry can be frozen
after baking if you dont want to use it immediately. In theory,
you can split it as described in the recipe, remove as much of the
uncooked pastry as possible, placing it in a sturdy container, and
freezing it for up to 4 or 5 days. Defrost, still in container,
before using. I have not tried this myself, however.
Youll need an electric stand mixer to beat the cream puff
pastry and baking parchment (also called parchment paper) for baking
it. Once this is completed, it must be served immediately, and leftovers
dont hold up well. This is a project, but its a lot
of fun to eat and, I think, to make. A nice alternative to traditional
- 4 ounces good-quality semisweet OR bittersweet chocolate, finely
chopped (see Introduction)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. plus 1-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
- Pinch of salt
- 4 egg yolks, from eggs graded large
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 cup minus 1 Tbsp. water
- 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into six pats
- 1-1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs, graded large, at room temperature (the eggs
must not be cold)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 Tbsp. sifted confectioners sugar
- Good-quality chocolate syrup or thin chocolate sauce ( I like
to use Hersheys Special Dark syrup)
Make the Pastry Cream first; it can be made up to 24 hours before
the dessert is served; it must chill for at least 4 to 6 hours.
Have ready a heatproof container of at least 3-1/2 cup capacity.
Tear off a piece of plastic wrap large enough to cover this container
with some excess on all sides. With the tip of a sharp knife, poke
at least 12 holes or small slits into the plastic wrap; when the
pastry cream is done, the plastic wrap will be placed directly on
top of it to prevent a skin from forming, and the holes will let
any steam or heat escape. Set both container and plastic wrap aside
near stovetop. Place finely chopped chocolate(s) in small heatproof
bowl. Place bowl over simmering water on low heat (water should
not touch bottom of bowl); stir until almost melted. Remove from
heat and hot water; dry bottom of bowl. Stir until melted and smooth.
Set aside near stovetop. Have ready a fine strainer; set aside near
Off the heat, in a 2 quart, heavy-bottomed, nonaluminum pot, combine
sugar, cornstarch, and salt. With small whisk, blend well, eliminating
as many lumps as possible. Set aside. In small bowl, combine egg
yolks and about 1 Tbsp. milk (no need to measure); with fork, beat
until well-blended. Add egg mixture to cornstarch mixture. Stir
gently with whisk (do not beat) only until well-mixed. (At this
point, it is optional to heat the remaing milk over low heat or
in the microwave, stirring often, until it is very hot. You dont
have to do so, although it speeds the cooking of the pastry cream.)
Gradually (very gradually if milk is hot) add milk to egg-cornstarch
mixture, stirring gently and constantly with whisk. Place the 2
quart pot over medium heat; cook and stir gently until mixture comes
to a boil. Just before the mixture boils, no matter how consistently
you have stirred it, youll begin to see lumps rising to the
top. Ignore them; the mixture should smooth out as it boils. Boil
and stir for 90 seconds. Remove from heat. Immediately add melted
chocolates, butter, and vanilla. Allow to stand for a minute or
two, then gently and carefully stir these ingredients in until the
pastry cream is a uniform color; it will be quite thick. Quickly
strain through fine strainer into your selected heatproof container.
Place prepared plastic wrap directly on top of hot pastry cream.
Allow to cool briefly at room temperature, then chill until very
cold and set, at least 4 to 6 hours.
For Pastry: You will need either one very thick baking sheet at
least 15-1/2 by 10-1/2 inches, or you can use two thinner baking
sheets of at least those dimensions. If you use the thinner baking
sheets, stack one on top of the other; this will prevent the bottom
of the pastry from overbrowning while it bakes. In either case,
line the baking sheet (the top baking sheet if youre stacking)
with baking parchment. Using a pencil or black pen, draw an oval
12 to 13 inches long in the center of the baking parchment; all
sides of the oval should be about 2 inches wide, and there should
be about a 3 inch wide gap in the center of the oval between the
two long edges closest to one another. Turn the parchment over so
that these marking face down; you should still be able to see them
through the parchment.
In a 1-1/2 to 2 quart, heavy-bottomed, nonaluminum pot, combine
water, sugar, and salt. Place over medium heat; with large spoon,
stir to dissolve sugar and salt, then stir occasionally until mixture
boils. Add butter pieces; continue to cook over medium heat, stirring
occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Remove from
heat. All at once, add flour and stir in. When flour has been incorporated,
place pot over LOW heat for 10 to 30 seconds, no longer, stirring
constantly. Remove from heat.
Place spoonfuls of this paste into the small or large bowl of
your electric stand mixer. If available, attach whisk beater. Now,
cool the paste for 10 minutes; do not omit this standing time! (If
paste is too hot when eggs are added, they might scramble.) Adjust
rack to one-third up from oven bottom; preheat oven to 425 degrees
After 10 minutes, beat paste at a low speed for a few seconds
to start it going. Add eggs one at a time, beating at a low speed
until the first two are incorporated. Scrape down bowl and beater(s).
Add remaining eggs one at a time, beating at medium speed after
each addition until incorporated. When finished beating, the paste
will still be thick, but it will be shiny and smooth. Remove from
By large spoonfuls, place paste within guidelines of oval, mounding
it high. If any strays beyond your traced lines, gently push it
back into place with a spoon or rubber spatula. It is helpful if
the shape is relatively smooth and even all the way around, but
dont fret if it isnt perfect.
Bake pastry in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Without
opening oven door, REDUCE HEAT TO 350 DEGREES F, bake 25 minutes
longer. Reach in and rotate baking sheet from back to front. With
the tip of a small, sharp knife, make 6 to 10 slits near the bottom
of the pastry and parallel to the baking sheet. Re-close oven door;
bake 10 minutes longer. The pastry should be well-risen and nicely
(but not overly) browned, although after you slit it it may reduce
in volume somewhat.
Remove baked pastry to cooling rack. Carefully slide the baking
sheet(s) out from under the parchment, leaving the parchment with
the baked pastry still on it on the cooling rack. Now, work with
the pastry when it has cooled just until you can handle it gingerlyit
should still be pretty hot. Using a very sharp, serrated knife and
working parallel to the tabletop or work surface, slice off about
the top third of the pastry; you may have to slice around the outside
of the oval first, then the inside. Gently remove the top third
of the pastry and transfer it to a second cooling rack, turning
it upside down along the way. Using a small spoon, scoop out as
much of the uncooked pastry filaments as you reasonably can from
both the bottom of the oval and the top portion. Dont scrape
too deeply, or youll have large holes in the outer shell.
You wont be able to scrape out every last bitOK. Now,
the pastry must cool completely before it is filled (this wont
take long). While it cools, chill a small bowl and the beater(s)
for a handheld electric mixer and sift the confectioners sugar
for the heavy cream if you havent already done so. Ready a
serving plate that should be at least two inches longer and wider
than the outer dimensions of your oval; the plate should have shallow
sides. Have ready your chocolate syrup or sauce, serving plates,
forks, and especially napkins.
When the pastry has cooled completely, place the bottom oval on
your serving plate. Remove your pastry cream from the refrigerator;
stir gently to loosen slightly (it will remain very thick).
In chilled bowl with chilled beater(s), beat heavy cream at high
speed until you can see definite traces of beater marks in the cream.
Add the confectioners sugar. Beat it in at low speed. Return
speed to high and beat until the cream holds very stiff peaks.
Working quickly now, spoon the pastry cream into the bottom portion
of your oval. Spoon or pipe the whipped cream on top, then set the
top third of the oval on the whipped cream. Drizzle chocolate syrup
or sauce over the top of the pastry; this looks most attractive
if the lines are zigzagged back and forth from outside of oval to
inside and back again, but keep the amount of this garnish to a
minimum (you can pass extra syrup or sauce for individual portions,
if you like). Pause briefly to let everyone admire your creation,
then cut with a large, very sharp, serrated knife. Refrigerate any
leftovers promptly, but dont expect the pastry to hold up
well under refrigeration.
Yield: 12 servings
© Stephanie Zonis provides the above information to anyone, but retains copyright on all text. This means that you may not: distribute the text to others without the express written permission of Stephanie Zonis; “mirror” or include this information on your own server or documents without my permission; modify or re-use the text on this system. You MAY: print copies of the information for your own personal use; store the files on your own computer for your personal use only; reference hypertext documents on this server from your own documents.