Tuesdays with Dorie: Peppermint Cream Puff Ring

June 17, 2008 at 4:16 am | Posted in groups, other sweet, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 67 Comments

peppermint cream puff ring

When I saw that Caroline of A Consuming Passion had chosen Dorie’s Peppermint Cream Puff Ring for TWD, my fist thought was that it reminded me of Christmas, but that’s actually quite right for the weather over here.  I even had a bunch of mint in the fridge that I was looking to finish off (why is that stuff so hard to use up?)–perfect! 

Have I ever told you that I love making pâte à choux, the base for cream puffs, eclairs, profiteroles and the like?  This wasn’t always the case though.  In culinary school, we had to use all these crazy tests to tell if we had added the “proper” amount of egg to the dough.  And for baking–turn the oven up, then down, then off.  Argh!  Then I went to work in a restaurant and it was like, “just use four eggs and bake them at 375° till they’re done.”  Freed of all that egg ambiguity and temperature trickery, choux became really fun and easy!

Dorie calls for the choux paste to be piped out in the shape of a large ring that is later cut in half and filled, similar to a Paris-Brest.  Partly because several other TWDers had their choux rings deflate on them, but mostly because a big ring sounded a bit too much for our small household, I decided to pipe individual cream puffs instead.  For these cream puffs, I made a half recipe of choux, using two whole eggs.  (One tip that Dorie doesn’t mention is to paddle the cooked paste in the mixer for a minute to cool it off a bit before adding the eggs one by one.  It should still be warm, but it is good to let some of the steam out before the eggs go in.)  This yielded about 24 two-bite puffs (using a 1/2-inch tip to pipe about 1 1/2-inch mounds). 

 peppermint cream puff ring

I baked off nine right away and put the rest in the freezer to bake later.  Since I was already switching up the shape of Dorie’s choux, I decided to proceed with her baking instructions rather than my one-temperature method.  I baked my puffs for 15 minutes at 425°, then about 10 more at 375°.  While I was at it, after they were fully baked, I used a pairing knife to put a small slit in the side of each baked puff, and further dried them out in the turned-off oven, which I cracked open with a wooden spoon, for about 30 minutes.  This baking process was much less painful than I remembered it in school (but then again, most things are).

The cooled puffs (or ring) were sliced in half and filled with a mint-infused whipped cream. A little sour cream or crème fraîche folded in gave it a bit of tang, but it would have been just as tasty without.   Capped off with dark chocolate glaze and toasted almonds, these were perfect little bites.  And just for Dorie, I presented my puffs in the form of a (rather dodgy-looking) “ring!”

peppermint cream puff ring

Thanks Caroline!  As always, the recipe’s in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, but this time she also has a version of it here on Epicurious.   And don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Time To Make The Doughnuts: Crullers with Rum Glaze (Spritzkrapfen)

February 10, 2008 at 2:53 pm | Posted in breakfast things, events, other sweet, sweet things | 37 Comments

crullers with rum glaze

What time is it?  It’s time to put on my disposable paper cap and make like Fred!  Two of my favorite food bloggers, Peabody and Tartelette, have teamed up to host Time To Make The Doughnuts, and I couldn’t not participate.  I must say, I love doughnuts but  I rarely allow myself to have them because I can quickly spiral out of control.  This is embarrassing, but if you have a box of Entenmann’s chocolate glazed things in the fridge (those MUST be eaten cold!) and invite me over, do not turn your back on me because I will sense their presence and they will magically disappear!  And back when Krispy Kreme was just a southern thang, it was so fun to go to the big shop near Grandma W’s and watch as they plopped off the line and into the vat of fat!  Oh, and have you ever had one from the Doughnut Plant?  They are the schiznit! 

I definitely go for cake-style doughnuts over yeast-raised; usually cinnamon-sprinkled or chocolate-frosted.  But there is another type of doughnut that really makes my heart race (yes, this is probably actually because of sugar content)…glazed crullers.  I love them, but I had never made them myself and had no idea how they were made either.  So I decided to find out, and fry them up for Peabody and Helene.

Turns out they are just pâte à choux, the same dough you’d use for eclairs or creampuffs, fried and glazed.  I found a recipe in the book Kaffeehaus by Rick Rodgers.  They are a Viennese treat, properly called spritzkrapfen.  As an aside, I drool over everything in this book.  I went to Vienna, Budapest and Prague as part of a backpacking trip in college.  It’s too bad that I didn’t know anything about anything back then, because I would have loved to experience the kaffeehaus atmposphere (and pastries!).  I will have to go back sometime and do it right.

Back to the doughnuts…My crullers came out very homemade-looking (if not for the label, would you have mistaken them for onion rings in the photo??), but they were totally melt-in-your-mouth, and the rum glaze was sensational.  They were easily the best crullers I’ve had…probably because they were so fresh, and of course dripping with rum.  My brother had two suggestions for improvement–make them bigger (I couldn’t agree more) and make more of them (I only made three so as not to be piggy)!

Be sure to visit Peabody and Tartelette on February 15 to see a great round-up of fried and baked doughnut delights!

Crullers with Rum Glaze (Spritzkrapfen) makes 14
adapted from Kaffeehaus by Rick Rodgers

Crullers
1 cup water

8 T (4 oz) unsalted butter, cubed
1 t sugar
pinch of  salt
1 cup unbleached  flour
4 large eggs (3 whole and 1 beaten), room temperature
Vegetable oil, for frying

Rum Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
2 T golden rum
1 T water, approximately

For the crullers:Combine the water, butter, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a full boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally so the butter melts. Remove from the heat, add all the flour at once, and stir hard with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated and it forms a ball. Return the pan medium-low heat and cook.  Stir continuously to evaporate some of the moisture, until the dough films the bottom of the pan, about 90 seconds.

Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl.  Using a handheld electric mixer (you could do this by hand or in a stand mixer), beat in the three whole eggs one at a time, making sure they are completely incorporated and stopping after each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add as much of the fourth beaten egg as needed so the dough is thick and hold its shape, but falls slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift it out of the bowl.  It should be smooth and shiny. 

Cut out fourteen 4-inch parchment squares and place a wire rack over a sheet pan for draining.  Using a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip (Rodgers recommends a 9/16-inch-wide tip, like Ateco #825, but I’d go even a bit wider), pipe the dough into 3-inch circles onto the parchment squares.

Pour the vegetable oil into a large pot or Dutch oven to a depth of 3 inches and heat to 360°F. Working in batches, without crowding, place the dough circles (still on their papers) upside-down in the oil.  After about 15 seconds, use tongs to pull off and discard the papers.  Fry, turning once, until golden on both sides.  Using a skimmer, transfer the cooked crullers to the rack to drain, and repeat for the next batch.  Try to keep the oil at 360°F  throughout.

For the rum glaze: Sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl.  Whisk in the rum and enough water to make a glaze the consistency of heavy cream.  Dip each cruller upside-down in the glaze and place right side up on the rack to cool and set.

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