Instead of filling these cream puffs—a simplified version of the éclairs she's making at the restaurant for Valentine's Day—with classic diplomat cream (custard mixed with whipped cream), Jen Yee of New York City's Lafayette pipes in jam and whipped cream for a sweet surprise of intense fruit flavor upon first bite.
Choux pastry can be tricky, but keep these things in mind to make the perfect puff: First, as you cook the flour mixture, when you see a film of dough stick to the bottom of the pan, it's ready to move to the stand mixer. Secondly, when you are adding the eggs to the batter, make sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. And lastly, when you're piping, try to pipe each puff in a single motion. If you pipe in waves, the puff will expand to look like a snowman when baking, losing its signature round appearance and making it harder for the finished product to stand up straight.
To learn more, read "Puffy the Valentine Slayer."
Raspberry Cream Puffs
Recipe adapted from Jen Yee, Lafayette, New York, NY
Yield: 4 dozen cream puffs
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus chilling time
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, plus chilling time
For the Pâte à Choux:
¾ cup skim milk
¾ cup water
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1½ teaspoons sugar
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
For the Fillings:
½ cup seedless raspberry jam
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Frosting:
1½ cups confectioners' sugar
1½ tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
1½ tablespoons boiling water
Assorted Valentine's Day candies, for garnish
1. Make the pâte à choux: In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt, then bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and immediately add all of the flour at once. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until smooth. Return the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until a thin film of dough sticks to the bottom of the pan, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Transfer the hot batter to the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed for 2 minutes to cool slightly. With the motor running, add the eggs into the batter, one at a time, scraping the bowl between each addition. The batter should be smooth and glossy. Cover the batter with plastic wrap, the wrap touching the surface of the dough, and chill for 1 hour, then transfer to a piping bag fit with a ¼-inch plain round pastry tip.
3. Preheat the oven to 375° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Pipe 2-tablespoon mounds of dough (1¼ inches in diameter) about 1½ inches apart from each other. Dip your finger in some water and gently flatten out any peaks of batter that form while piping. Bake, rotating the trays halfway through, until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely.
4. Meanwhile, make the fillings: Transfer the jam to a pastry bag. In a medium bowl, whisk the heavy cream and vanilla to stiff peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to another pastry bag.
5. Make the frosting: Place the confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the jam with the boiling water until smooth. Strain the mixture into the bowl with the confectioners' sugar, then whisk until smooth. Set aside.
6. Using the pastry tip, punch holes in the bottom of each cream puff for filling. Pipe about ½ teaspoon of jam into each puff, then fill the rest of the space with the whipped cream.
7. Once all of the cream puffs have been filled, dip their tops into the frosting, being careful to prevent dripping. Top with various candies and serve.
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