Cream Puffs definitely make the cut into my Top Five Favorite Desserts of All Time. You might recall that last year I blogged about classic Cream Puffs and Gougeres, which are both made with the same type of dough— pâte à choux. Ever since I blogged about those classic whipped cream-filled cream puffs, I’ve been dreaming of another variation: Toasted Coconut Cream Puffs.
For the toasted coconut version I decided to fill the cream puffs with a combination of coconut-infused pastry cream and whipped cream. For a complex yet mellow coconut flavor, I toasted the coconut in the oven before infusing it in the milk and cream for the pastry cream. Additional toasted coconut made its way into the cream puff dough, and a final dusting of toasted coconut on top of the cream puffs ensured these cream puffs were undeniably coconutty. Drizzles of chocolate and caramel broadened the flavor spectrum while adding a bit of elegance.
There’s another reason I had the urge to blog about cream puffs again: I’ve been scouring David Lebovitz’s impressive Paris Pastry app in preparation for Sam’s and my grand adventure to Paris and Cologne this week. The app’s gorgeous photos of eclairs and religeuses have me salivating and dreaming of pastries. I thought it would be fun to have one last baking hurrah before my trip, so I made these as a nod to Paris pastries.
Au revoir, friends! See you in a few weeks with plenty of pictures of Paris pastries!
Recipe adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s crème pâtissière recipe (Ratio, p 215).
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons milk
1½ cups heavy cream, divided
¼ vanilla bean, spit lengthwise
¼ cup sugar
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
- Toast the coconut. Preheat oven to 325°F. Toast the coconut for 8-10 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown. Set aside ¼ cup of the toasted coconut to use in the cream puff batter and as a garnish.
- Infuse the milk. Combine the remaining ½ cup coconut, ½ cup milk, 1 cup heavy cream and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Remove pan from heat and allow mixture to steep for 15 minutes.
- Prepare other ingredients. Meanwhile, combine the yolks and sugar in a medium-sized heatproof bowl. Stir vigorously to begin dissolving sugar. Prepare an ice bath of ice water in a container large enough to accommodate the saucepan. Stir together the cornstarch and remaining 3 tablespoons milk in a small bowl.
- Make the pastry cream. Once the cream has steeped for 15 minutes, remove and discard the vanilla bean. Bring the cream to a simmer once again and then gradually whisk it into the yolks and sugar. (Even though the cream will be gloppy from the coconut flakes, it is important to add the cream to the yolks gradually and to stir quickly so the hot cream does not cook the egg yolks.) Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly. Continue stirring over medium heat until the custard becomes very thick and is just about to boil. (Don’t worry if the custard seems overly thick; it will be thinned out with whipped cream later.) Remove the pan from the heat and submerge the base in the ice bath, stirring constantly. Add the butter and stir to thorougly incorporate it. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and refrigerate until cool, two to three hours.
- Whip cream. When you are ready to fill the cream puffs, whip the remaining 1 cup heavy cream with an electric mixer to hard peaks using a chilled bowl and chilled beaters.
- Combine pastry cream and whipped cream. Gently mix together the chilled pastry cream and whipped cream. Chill until ready to use.
Make the Cream Puffs
Recipe adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s pâte à choux recipe (Ratio, p 45).
1 cup water (8 oz.)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 oz.)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 scant cup flour (4 oz.)
4 large eggs (8 oz.)
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted (see pastry cream recipe)
- Prepare. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Mis en place: measure all ingredients and line them up so they’re within reach and ready when you need them.
- Make the Dough. Heat the water, butter and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon and bring the mixture to a boil. As soon as it boils and the butter has melted, add the flour. Stir like mad to incorporate the flour into the liquid. The dough will move from gelatinous goop to a shiny, cohesive ball that forms around the spoon as you stir. Continue stirring for 60 more seconds. This will cook the flour and remove its raw taste.
- Stir in the eggs. Spoon the dough ball into a clean bowl and let cool for two minutes. While the dough is still warm, heartily stir the eggs in one at a time. The dough will not accept the egg at first and look curdled, like spätzle. Continue stirring and eventually the egg will incorporate thoroughly into the dough. Add the other eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next egg. Then stir in the toasted coconut. Alternatively, you can use an electric hand mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment to beat in the eggs one at a time. Use a low speed to avoid beating extra air into the batter.
- Shape or pipe. Using two teaspoons or a small ice-cream scoop, place small mounds of dough about 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. My small ice cream scoop (7/8 oz. capacity) yielded 20 puffs. Alternatively, you can pipe with dough onto the baking sheet. Just make sure you pipe a mound and not a flat disk.
- Bake. Bake the puffs at 425°F for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 10-20 more minutes, until puffs have risen and are golden brown.
Assemble the Toasted Coconut Cream Puffs
Toasted Coconut Pastry Cream, above
Cream Puffs, above
2 tablespoons toasted coconut (reserved from pastry cream above)
caramel sauce (optional)
melted chocolate (optional)
- Slice the top of the cream puffs off with a sharp knife and fill with 1-2 tablespoons of coconut pastry cream. Replace top. Alternatively, place the pastry cream in a pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Poke a hole in the bottom of each cream puff with the pastry tip and fill with pastry cream.
- Drizzle the cream puffs with caramel sauce or melted chocolate and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Serve.