Generally I am slow at posting what I make (average delay of a couple months to a year). This is no exception: rhubarb season has passed, but I’ll slip this in anyways… and there may be more rhubarb recipes coming even later!
These cream puffs are filled with a tart strawberry rhubarb compote, rosewater and mascarpone pastry cream, topped with a sweet vanilla whipped ganache and a chunk of poached rhubarb and slice of strawberry. I’ve actually reworked the original recipe, which used to have a filling of rosewater rhubarb curd and strawberry jam as the rhubarb flavour did not come across very strongly in the form of a curd.
One of the last times I made cream puffs, I spent the course of several paragraphs complaining about how my craquelin did not completely cover the puff. There are a couple of solutions: easiest is to recognize that incomplete coverage more noticeable with a coloured craquelin – on the other hand, plain craquelin blends in quite well with the colour of the cream puff itself.
As for actually maximizing the coverage: it seems to require a bit more attention to the dimensions of the pastry and the craquelin. This time I cut the craquelin about 0.5cm larger than the size to which I piped the choux. I expect this is not a hard and fast absolute relationship, but a 0.5cm size difference works quite well for choux pastry piped to 4.5cm diametre.
Essentially, you want a craquelin round that is big enough to cover the unbaked choux pastry. Next time watch a batch of choux a craquelin as it bakes. First the craquelin will soften in the heat of the oven, the edges will droop and it will drape down to cover the cream puff. Where it lands, it will adhere, so it is at this step we want it to completely cover the mound of choux pastry. As the choux pastry expands beneath the craquelin, the cookie layer will fragment apart to accommodate the pastry’s growth.
The trickiest part of all of this is actually just finding the right size cutters. Look at all the circular things in your kitchen – bottle tops, jars, cookie cutters, ring molds. To trace 4.5cm circles for the choux I used the cap that once came from a bottle of banana-flavoured amoxicillin, and found a cookie cutter that measured 5cm across for the craquelin.
strawberry rhubarb rose choux
This time around I’ve made larger cream puffs than usual! I think I will stick to this size mostly from now on. Craquelin from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller & Sebastien Rouxell. Ganache from Duchess at Home by Giselle Courteau.
- 56g brown sugar
- 50g whole wheat flour
- 36g soft butter
- 43g butter
- 90g milk
- pinch kosher salt
- sprinkle of granulated sugar
- 45g whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ eggs (may not use all)
For the craquelin, mix all ingredients together until it forms a cohesive dough. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment and roll out to a thickness of 1-2mm. Slide onto a pan and freeze until firm.
For the choux pastry, preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper – on the backside, trace twelve 4.5cm circles.
Place the butter, milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the flour and quickly mix in with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat and continue to cook the mixture until it forms a ball. Remove the pastry from the heat and let cool a bit before adding the egg.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Add a bit at a time to the pastry. Assess the consistency of the dough after each addition of egg and stop once you’ve achieved the right consistency. I find it easiest to begin beating in the eggs with a wire whisk and then transition back to stirring with a wooden spoon once the batter loosens. The dough should be shiny, but not fluid (if its something a bit new to you, look up a video or a more detailed tutorial for the right consistency – such as looking for the “triangle” of dough!). Importantly, you don’t need to use all the egg – or you may need a bit more or less!
Transfer the pastry to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe mounds of pastry onto the 4.5cm circles. To make the size consistent, I position the piping bag a little ways above the pan (1-2cm or so – it will be quite natural!) and pipe until the mound of dough nearly fills out the circular guide drawn on the parchment. I avoid lifting the piping bag further up as I pipe – if you do that, you end up with a larger and taller mound of pastry and the size will not be as consistent.
Take the craquelin out of the freezer and cut 5cm circles from the dough. Top each puff with a round of the craquelin.
Bake for 10 minutes at 400F, then decrease temperature to 375F and bake about 30 minutes more or until well browned. You can rotate the puffs after they’ve been in the oven for 20-25 minutes or so, once there are no worries of them deflating. As soon as you can handle the puffs, cut a small slit on the bottom of each puff to let the steam release and let cool on on a wire rack.
rosewater mascarpone pastry cream
- 240g milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 13g cornstarch
- 15g granulated sugar
- 20g butter, softened
- about 2 tsp rosewater (but do this to taste in accordance with the strength of your rosewater)
- 100g mascarpone
strawberry rhubarb compote
- 120g chopped strawberries
- 120g chopped rhubarb
- 20g granulated sugar
- zest of 1/4 lemon
- squeeze of lemon juice
vanilla whipped ganache
- 50g white chocolate, chopped
- 100g heavy cream, divided
- good pinch salt
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (I think this would be a great time to use vanilla bean paste if you have it for the flecks of seeds!)
poached rhubarb garnish
- dried rose petals
For the pastry cream, place the milk in a saucepan.
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, egg yolk and a bit of the milk. Heat the remaining milk in a small saucepan until it just begins to simmer. Slowly pour it into the cornstarch/egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Return to the saucepan and cook over medium while whisking constantly. Look for the pastry cream to begin to bubble and to thicken considerably. To ensure the starch is cooked, let the pastry cream cook at a bubble for at least 1 minute (all the while whisking very vigorously!).
Pass through a sieve (especially if you spy any lumps) and into a bowl and whisk in the butter until melted. Cover and chill completely.
Whisk in the mascarpone and rosewater (add rosewater to taste).
Then make the compote. Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high until the juices begin to be released from the fruit. Let simmer for about 5 minutes or until the fruit is cooked and the compote is somewhat thickened. Avoid stirring too vigorously to prevent the rhubarb chunks from breaking up too much. Transfer to a container and chill completely.
For the ganache, place the chopped white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat 60g of the cream until steaming, but not boiling, and pour over the white chocolate. Let sit a few minutes to begin melting, then whisk until smooth. Add the remaining 40g of cream cold. Chill completely.
When ready to use, whip until stiff.
For the poached rhubarb garnish, cut enough small pieces of rhubarb so you have one for each cream puff (i.e. about 10). Place the rhubarb in a small heatproof container. Place about 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over the rhubarb, cover and let cool in the hot syrup. Allow to cool completely, then chill until ready to use. This will result in a cooked but still slightly crisp rhubarb garnish.
You can add a bit of dried hibiscus to the syrup to boost the colour if your rhubarb is a bit green.
To assemble, slice off the top of each puff. Transfer the pastry cream to a pastry bag and pipe the cream into the bottom of each puff, filling them about 2/3 of the way. Tap the puffs on the counter in order to let the cream settle into all the crevices. Use a small spoon to fill the remaining 1/3 of each puff with compote.
Transfer the whipped ganache to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe a swirl on top of each choux. Garnish with a piece of poached rhubarb, quartered strawberry, and crumbled dried rose petals.
Update notes: Recipe reworked and photographs updated Jun 2021.