Fool-proof Cream Puffs

Also known as profiteroles, these cream puffs are the perfect bite-sized dessert. I prefer cream puffs made with pastry cream instead of whipped cream because I like the richer flavor of the egg and the silky texture that the pastry cream provides.

What makes this fool-proof? The secret’s in the can. Unlike bovine milk, coconut milk doesn’t have any dairy solids that would burn and create lumps in your pastry cream. The coconut milk is also higher in fat so the cream is more likely to set, with help from the cornstarch. The final result is an ultra smooth finish and a nice subtle coconut flavor to the cream. Another bonus is that canned coconut milk is shelf-stable and doesn’t spoil as quickly as refrigerated milk (I always keep a can somewhere in my apartment because it’s so useful to have!).

Fool-proof Cream Puffs
Total Time: 2 Hours Active Time: 45 Minutes
Servings: About 24 filled puffs

Ingredients: (Total Eggs Needed = 7-8)
Pastry Cream:
80g or 4 egg yolks
80g or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
16g or 2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
440g or 1 can unsweetened canned coconut milk
52g or 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
10g or 2 tsp vanilla extract

Choux:
113g or 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
233g or 1 cup water
120g or 1 cup all-purpose flour
3g or 1/2 tsp salt
120g or 2 large eggs (+1 extra in case your batter is too thick)
1 egg yolk, for egg wash

1. Make the Pastry Cream.

1a) Heat coconut milk and prepare egg mixture. In a medium pot, heat coconut milk over medium heat until a gentle boil is reached. In a separate large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until smooth; then whisk in cornstarch and salt.

1b) Combine mixtures, add butter and flavor, and chill. When coconut milk is at a gentle boil, slowly pour hot milk into the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Add warmed egg mixture back to the pot of milk and while continuously whisking, bring to a boil or until well-thickened (about 1-2 minutes, you should feel resistance on your whisk). Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Whisk in butter pieces to chill mixture and add final vanilla extract. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge while you make your choux batter. You can also stop here and use your cream for cakes, tarts, or eaten simply with fresh berries.

Note: The cream should be very smooth however if your pastry cream is clumpy, you can pass your cream through a mesh strainer.

2. Prep Oven & Baking Sheets. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Make the Choux batter.

3a) Make roux. In a clean medium pot, heat water and cubed butter together until a full simmer, and whisk vigorously to emulsify the fats from the butter and the water together. Remove from the heat, add flour and salt and stir until well incorporated and no dry clumps remain. The consistency will be a thick paste (roux). Transfer to a separate bowl.

3b) More emulsification (with eggs)! Incorporate eggs, one at a time until fully combined. The batter will look clumpy at first, but it will come together as you mix. After the last egg has been incorporated, check consistency of your batter- it should be elastic, smooth and should slowly fall off the spoon into a “V”. Depending on what kind of flour you are using or the size of your eggs, you may need to add an extra half-egg (whisked egg, poured into the batter) to achieve this.

4. Pipe, Egg Wash, and Bake. Using a round pastry tip or a Ziploc bag with the tip cut off, pipe 1″ rounds onto baking trays about 1″ apart from each other. Dampen your finger with a small amount of water and flatten the tops, then mix 1 egg yolk with 1 Tbsp of water to make egg wash. Brush rounds with egg wash, then bake trays in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool complete before assembly.*

5. Assemble. Carefully slit the cream puffs in half, then fill with your chilled Pastry Cream. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Q: What if I don’t have canned coconut milk? Can I use ___ milk as a substitute? You can absolutely substitute 1:1 for any milk you have. If you have full fat coconut cream, you can dilute by adding 1:1 coconut cream to water. Just a note that if you’re using dairy-based milk, keep an eye out for the milk to make sure it doesn’t scald on the stovetop.

Cheers!
-Jenna

*If you’re not planning to eat within 1-2 days, you can store the unfilled puffs in the freezer for about a month. Allow them to come to room temperature before filling. (Do not place your cream in the freezer)

Save the Scraps: From-the-Pantry Cookies

Inspired by Momofuku Milk Bar’s own Compost Cookies, these pantry cookies begin with a simple base, then any add-ins you can scrounge in your pantry. The result is a delicate, sweet + salty cookie with tons of texture, and endless pantry possibilities.

Today, I have found chocolate chips, chopped hazelnuts, tortilla chips, coffee, and honey cookies. Since we are just coming off of Halloween, I also have some candies that I’m throwing into the mix as well (from the post-Halloween 50% off section). Some of my other favorite mix-ins for this cookie recipe have been:

  • Pretzels (esp. the peanut-butter filled ones!)
  • Potato chips
  • Graham crackers
  • Dried fruit (esp. cranberries)
  • Toasted oats
  • Other toasted nuts (esp. walnuts)

From-the-Pantry Cookies
Total Time: 35 Minutes Active Time: 20 Minutes
Servings: About 1 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
140g butter, room temperature
60g granulated sugar
70g brown sugar
100g all-purpose flour
20g buckwheat flour (or another flour is fine, even corn-meal is ok)
6g ground coffee, medium grind (Baratza Encore grind: #17)
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 egg (about 50g), room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
Roughly 130g Crispy Crunchy Mix-Ins (chips, nuts, crackers, etc)*
Roughly 130g Other Mix-Ins (chocolate chips, candies, dried fruit)*

1. Prep Oven & Baking Sheets. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Prep your Mix-Ins. Place all crispy crunchy bits (chips, pretzels, crackers, toasted nuts, etc) into a ziploc bag and crush using a rolling pin or hands until sand-like texture. Cut other mix-ins into bite sized pieces if needed.

3. Assemble the Base. Cream together butter and sugars in a mixer on medium speed. While butter and sugars are creaming, in a separate bowl, whisk together flours, coffee, salt, and baking soda.

Once butter and sugar is incorporated, add the egg and vanilla extract to emulsify into mixture. Then, lower mixing speed and slowly stir in dry ingredients until dough base is formed, about 30 seconds.

4. Stir in your Mix-Ins. Mix until everything is dispersed evenly in the final dough.

5. Portion and Bake. Portion cookies (~50g each) and place onto baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies in oven for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown.

*You can also place the portions into a freezer-safe bag to bake off at a later date!

6. Allow to cool, then enjoy! Flaky sea salt is optional, but always welcome.

Cheers!
-Jenna

*No more than 300g of mix-ins total, otherwise the batter will be too thick 😦

Today’s mix-ins: 30g hazelnuts / 60g honey cookies / 40g tortilla chips / 50g bitterswt choc chunks / 85g Reese’s
Another good combo: 85g crushed graham crackers / 60g peanut butter pretzels / 40g sea salt potato chips / 50g bitterswt choc chunks