Friday, June 05, 2009
Where the egg whites came from
Choux Pastry has always fascinated me. So light, so delicate and filled with all the wonderful things I like. So when I ended up with more Fat Free half and half than I could use in the next week I thought I'd give this recipe a try. It's from a lovely little book entitled, Vanilla. Yum. Though Yum isn't in the title, it should be.
First the Cremé Patissiére.
(I used all fat-free half and half for all the liquid)
2/3 cup milk
2/3 heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
4 egg yolks - room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
Put milk and cream into a medium, heavy-bottom pan. Use the tip of a small sharp knife to score the vanilla bean lengthwise through the center. Add it to the pan and bring the milk to a boil. Remove from heat and let it infuse for 20 minutes.
Bean together the egg yolks, sugar, and flour until smooth. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk, scrap out the seeds with the tip of a knife, and return the seed to the milk. Pour the milk over the egg mixture, beating well.
Don't discard the bean, rinse and dry it and put it in a container with sugar. In a week you'll have the most delicisoso sugar.
Return the custard to the pan and cook over a gentle heat, stiffing constantly with a wooden spoon, for 4-5 minutes until it is thick and smooth. Turn the custard into a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool before use.
Now for the Choux pastry.
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla ( I love paste vanilla)
Lightly grease a large cookie sheet and sprinkle with water. Sift the flour onto a sheet of waxed paper. Cut the butter into pieces and melt in a medium pan with 2/3 cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat.
Tip in the flour and beat until the mixture forms a ball that comes away from the side of the pan. I did this with a wooden spoon. Let cool for 2 minutes then gradually beat in the eggs until mixture is smooth and glossy. Add the vanilla.
Place 12 even-size spoonfuls of the mixture, space well apart, on the prepared cookie sheet and bake in a pre-heated 400 degree over for about 22-25 minutes until they are well risen and golden. Make a slit around the middle of each puff and return them to the oven for 3 more minutes to dry out the centers. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.
Open each puff and fill with the pastry cream. I placed three banana slices on the bottom, then the cream and finally the top. Dust with confectioners' sugar and store them in a cool place until ready to serve.
They were tasty but my pastry cream was not set as much as I'd wanted so they were a bit difficult to eat, too runny. It was either I didn't cook it long enough or, as I suspect, the fat-free half and half. Next time, the hell with the calories, I'll use regular half and half.
You can be as creative as you want. I've made these with chicken salad for a luncheon buffet and
were very good. Just remember to assemble at the last minute so they puffs stay crispy.