Sunday Profiteroles! Vanilla Cream Puffs with Figs, Pears and Blackberries
by eat in my kitchen
There’s something wonderfully old-fashioned about cream puffs. Voluptuously shaped and lusciously filled with vanilla cream, ripe figs, pears and blackberries they are anything but a simple teatime sweet. This creation calls for a pretty coffee table, delicate porcelain, frilly napkins and table cloth, my granny Annie would have loved it! She was very much into extravagant Sunday afternoon treats, she used to welcome her guests dressed up, with lipstick and jewellery. Her Frankfurt Crown Cake – the German Frankfurter Kranz – was her legendary masterpiece, delicious and opulent, it was the star of many coffee tables.
Airy choux pastry, golden and crisp, is the secret of a good profiterole. Be it in an elegant oblong éclair or a baroque shaped Windbeutel – cream puff in German – the sensitive dough has to rise well first and then keep its shape. To get there stress-free, there are two rules to obey: the door of the oven should never be opened while the pastry is baking; and, once it’s done, the little puff balls have to stay in the oven with the door closed for a few minutes to dry and build up structure. When they cool off a little they are more robust than they may seem, which is helpful as they have to carry quite a rich filling.
Vanilla Cream Puffs with Figs, Pears and Blackberries
For 12 cream puffs you need
For the vanilla cream
milk 350ml / 1 1/2 cups
organic egg yolks 2
granulated sugar 80g / 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon
a pinch of salt
cornstarch 30g / 1/4 cup
vanilla pod, slightly slit, 1
heavy cream, whipped, 100ml / 1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons
For the choux pastry
butter 80g / 3 ounces
sugar 4 teaspoons
a pinch of salt
milk 90ml / 1 /3 cup and 1 tablespoon
water 90ml 1 /3 cup and 1 tablespoon
plain flour, sieved, 130g / 1 cup
organic eggs 3
crisp pear, cut into slim wedges, 1
ripe figs, cut into slim wedges, 6
blackberries, a small handful
icing sugar, for the topping (optional)
For the vanilla cream, whisk 4 tablespoons of the milk with the egg yolks, sugar, salt and cornstarch until well combined. In a saucepan, bring the remaining milk with the vanilla pod to the boil. Take the vanilla pod out and scrape the seeds out of the bean into the milk. Add the egg-sugar mixture to the hot milk, whisking well. Take the saucepan off the heat immediately and whisk for another minute. If it crumbles, whisk in a little more milk. Let the cream cool and then chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Once it’s cool, whip the heavy cream and fold into the vanilla cream gently. Keep the vanilla cream in the fridge until you fill the choux pastry.
Set the oven to 200°C ( °F) (top / bottom heat) and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
For the dough, bring the butter, sugar, salt, milk and water gently to the boil. When the butter has melted, stir in the flour vigorously with a wooden spoon, mix until smooth and the dough comes away from the side of the pan. Transfer the dough to a bowl and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Beat the eggs in with a spoon, one at a time, only mix in the next one when the one before is well combined.
Fill the dough in a piping bag with a wide nozzle and pipe the mixture into 12 balls. Bake in the oven for about 19 minutes or until golden brown and crisp, don’t open the door while the choux pastry is baking. When it’s done, switch off the oven but leave it closed. After 5 minutes open the door slightly, only the stick of a wooden spoon should fit in, and let the pastry dry for another 5 minutes (this way they keep their shape). Take them out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack completely.
Prepare the cream puffs just before serving: cut off the tip, fill generously with vanilla cream and fruits and close with the lid again. Sprinkle with icing sugar (optional) and enjoy!