My goal of 100 posts, downgraded to 90 posts, before tentimestea’s second birthday will likely not come to fruition having fallen off the rails. But I’m holding out for 85, which will give me a nice average of 1 post every 8.5 days–not bad!
There isn’t any particular reason to aim for a nice base number such as 100, or even a multiple of 10 (90) or if one must, a multiple of five (85). It’s a bit arbitrary, so I will even aim for just this 84 if need be.
And, as post number eighty-four, now that I’m keeping count, I can introduce you to two things:
- a nice choux pastry
- a nice pastry cream
This is rare. 2/2? Very rare.
But there is a bit of complication. The whole 2/2 thing doesn’t quite equal 100%. It’s more of a 70.I always find plain choux pastry enjoyable, but this tastes especially nice on it’s own. It’s not bland. Using browned butter and whole wheat flour, it’s nutty and buttery and crisp on the outside, and because I never cook it enough, still a bit custardy on the inside. (Actually, a bit like a popover.)
The pastry cream, infused with vanilla and then beaten with mascarpone and speculoos butter and lightened with whipped cream. While rich and smooth, it doesn’t have any gluey texture. I think this can be attributed primarily to the mascarpone–it loosens up the pastry cream (preventing any gluey texture from the cornstarch) while still allowing it to maintain its form. In fact, the pastry cream had a lot of structural integrity (just think about disasters such as this!) making it easy to work with.
Importantly, the mascarpone doesn’t overwhelm the flavour of the pastry cream at all. This could become my basic pastry cream, except that do you really want your basic pastry cream to have mascarpone in it? It isn’t always going to be on hand, so unfortunately I still have to keep on working on the pastry cream front…
I wish I could say that I thought of using speculoos butter (analogous to a praline paste in the pastry cream used in a Paris-Brest), but I didn’t. I saw it somewhere else, though when I tried to track down where I first came across the idea I found a whole host of different speculoos éclairs and Paris-Brests. So: a nice pastry cream. And a nice choux pastry.
But together they didn’t work quite so well. The pastry cream and peaches overwhelm the choux pastry–all the flavour of the choux pastry felt a bit useless and redundant. It was still there, and I at least like to hope that the mirrored flavours contributed somewhat, but perhaps not quite as much as I would have liked. Overall it was still delicious though, and surprisingly successful for me.
speculoos éclairs with peaches
brown butter choux pastry
Makes around 4 14-cm Paris-Brest rings or around 10-12 éclairs. Adapted from a previous choux pastry adaptation here.
Was a bit too loose when I made it–perhaps because I increased the water to account for the water lost when browning the butter, and so the amount of egg required was less than anticipated. Add one egg and then beat the remainder in a small bowl before adding bit by bit.
Perhaps because of the whole wheat flour, but the pastry is not as silky and glossy and smooth as normal choux pastry. The éclairs still baked up quite nicely though.
65 g butter
1 tbsp powdered milk
1 heaping tbsp sugar
1 generous pinch salt
160 mL water (reduce a bit too?)
80 g whole wheat flour
around 2 large eggs, or as needed (one time I used two and the batter was a a bit too loose…the second time I used 2 and a bit)
Melt butter with the powdered milk. Cook until browned, let cool before carefully adding the sugar, salt and water.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M (medium star tip). Trace 14-cm circles using a bowl as a guide. Pipe one circle on the line, a second circle inside the first, and a last circle overtop. Try to pipe somewhat thickly to obtain some height to the pastry.
For éclairs, fill a piping bag fitted with a large French tip (not star). Pipe straight lines of batter.
Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 375 and bake for another 10-20 minutes. I left my éclairs custardy in the centre, but properly they should be nicely dried out so continue baking for longer.
When done, poke holes in the bottom with a skewer to let steam escape and let cool on a wire rack.
It works very well without the speculoos butter as well as a rich vanilla and mascarpone pastry cream.
The idea of using speculoos butter came from somewhere else, though I haven’t tracked down where I originally came across the idea yet. In the meantime, I did find a number of speculoos Paris-Brest though… like this lovely one and this one.
250 mL milk
75 mL heavy cream
5-cm length of vanilla bean
15 g sugar
2 large eggs + 1 yolk
25 g cornstarch
80 g mascarpone
80 g speculoos butter
60 g heavy cream, whipped
Combine milk and cream in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape seeds into milk. Add the pod. Warm up the mixture.
Meanwhile, whisk the sugar, cornstarch and eggs together. Once the milk mixture has come to a boil, slowly pour into the eggs to temper. Return to the stovetop and cook gently, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream has thickened and the taste of uncooked starch is gone. Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill completely.
Take the mascarpone and add a spoonful of pastry cream to it. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add pastry cream a large spoonful at a time until the mascarpone is loosened and well incorporated, then mix the mascarpone into the pastry cream. Repeat this process with the speculoos butter.
Whip the cream and gently fold into the pastry cream. Use immediately, or keep chilled until ready to use. I would make the pastry cream ahead of time, but leave incorporating the whipped cream until the last moment.
Cut the peaces into small dice. Split the éclairs and fill the bottom with peaches.
Fill a pastry bag with the pastry cream fitted with desired tip. Pipe the pastry cream over the peaches. Cover with the top of the éclairs. Optionally dust with powdered sugar.