Apparently, I’m getting into the habit of neglecting my blog, then writing about baking 3 different recipes at once. That’s writing about 3 recipes at once, not baking 3 at once… though this past weekend I did bake 2. I made the “quick and easy” molasses butter cookies “on time” for the baking group I’m a part of, about 3 weeks ago. Then it was Canada Day weekend (and my birthday) and I went off to spend time with friends at their cottage on the beach at Lake Huron. I forgot to post about those cookies and I skipped doing any baking on the long weekend. Nancy made my mom’s spice cake with brown sugar frosting, so there was no need for me to bake my own birthday cake. 🙂
So, this weekend, having a bit of spare time between the usual stuff, I did a bit of ambitious catch up. I made cream puffs, faux gras, and blueberry crumb cake. Somehow, I missed taking any pictures of the cookies or the crumb cake, so all you get in any detail is the process of making cream puffs. I didn’t photo document the process of making faux gras because… well, I was slightly grossed out and wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.
I’ve made cream puffs and eclairs before, but I always forget just how simple they are, given the impressive result. Like Marie, I’m tempted to make up a whole bunch of them and freeze, just to have something on hand to throw some creative/seasonal filling into, and serve as a fancy-looking appetizer at a fancy party. I don’t throw many fancy parties, though, so they’d probably just end up freezer burned.
Pâte à Choux is the dough for the puffs. It’s made by stirring together a flour and water concoction on the stove, cooking the flour as you do so. You then gradually beat eggs into the hot paste. Rose offers a food processor method, but I did it by hand, because my dough whisk is great for this type of thing, and so much easier to clean than the food processor. Plus I don’t mind the exercise.
That makes a sticky, kind of runny dough, which is then piped onto parchment, on the back of a sheet pan. I assume you use the back of the pan to prevent the uneven browning you’d get at the edges if the walls of the pan faced up. After piping the little mounds, use a wet fingertip to smooth the peaks on the top. In the picture below, I’d smoothed about half of them.
Then bake them. Earlier in the day, I made the “faux” gras. I couldn’t find any chicken livers, which the recipe called for, so I used duck, which we found at the Kitchener Farmer’s market. The process for making pâté is pretty straightforward. Cook onions in some butter, add cream & garlic, pour in with the livers, purée, then bake. This next picture is at the “then bake” stage. Looks like pudding?
It did not improve on the “appetizing” scale after baking.
As Jay said, “I’m proud of you. Whether you eat it or not, you managed to make pâté without gagging.”
We got out a spoon and each tried a tiny bit.
I didn’t immediately have the energy to make the ruby port caramel that was supposed to top these, so I delayed assembly until this evening. Well, that’s not quite true. I made a couple of ice cream puffs for each of us. 😀
Still, if something’s worth trying, it’s worth trying all the way, right? So, after supper, I made the ruby port caramel. Which is really yummy.
Then I assembled the “savory cream puffs.” Which sounds so much better than it tasted. 😦
A teaspoon each (I didn’t even round it) of the “faux gras” pâté… then the caramel on top.
I figured if I drowned it in the caramel, I might not be able to taste the liver? NOPE! It comes “shining” through! I did manage to eat about half of it before I decided to switch over to the blueberry crumb cake. I saw evidence that Jay bit into his, but I’m not convinced it went beyond that. “I need water!” “Thanks, but no thanks!” “I appreciate all the work you put into those. And the puffs are awesome!” Me: “Don’t worry, I’m not offended. I don’t like the combination either.”
I think I could tolerate pâté if it were with some really strong cheese, or a super salty cracker, or something like that… but not with sweet. Liver definitely does not go with sweet, to my palate. Now, the ruby port caramel sauce with the blueberry crumb cake? That’s a winning combination. I bet it’s even better on a cream puff filled with ice cream.
Oh, and the blueberry crumb cake (minus a few pieces kept at home) was a big hit at work!