Choux à la Crème, or Cream Puff Goodness

Last week, I caught an episode of The American Baking Competition. I had never watched it before but it caught my eye, not only because it was a food show but also because it happened to be French pastry week. Although I don’t expect to be tuning in again (I admit it, I am a snob. Every food competition looks horrible compared to my personal favorite, MasterChef.), I did get excited about trying to make French pastries. It always looks so scary but the people on the show made it look like it was a feasable challenge and that it was definitely worth the work. Since I watched it, I’ve been browsing the web to find a simple enough but good-looking choux à la crème (French cream puffs) recipe.

Numerous YouTube videos and blog posts later, I finally found a satisfying and clear enough recipe. The only challenge was to translate from metric to American measures. It might not sound like a big deal but when it comes to that kind of pastry, precision is essential. As metric measurements don’t translate exactly to American measurements, I probably didn’t get a result quite as perfect as I could have. Check out the recipe I used by the Foodie Baker.

Very simple ingredients to make a pretty fancy treat!
The waiting game was painful…especially as you cannot open the oven door while the puffs are cooking or you’ll ruin them!
I am pretty certain this is what the inside should look like.
The filling was a vanilla custard (crème patissière) made with real vanilla beans.
The filling station.
Pre-chocolate, filled choux.
Melting the chocolate and heavy cream.

I was sweating, my arm was aching but, in the end, it was all worth it. I definitely made a few mistakes and plan to change my technique a bit next time.

First of all, I should I let the dough cool off more before piping it. Although it wasn’t too bad, they wouldn’t have been so runny when I piped them onto the baking sheet. I only know this because I put some leftover dough in the fridge while the first batch was baking and the second attempt (only five extra ones) looked so much nicer.

Second, I need better piping tools. I didn’t have what I would have needed to pipe directly into the puffs so I ended up cutting them all in half to make sandwich-type puffs. It worked but it could have been so much easier and nicer. I’ll definitely be checking out Amazon for better equipment!

Third, I should have put more effort into the chocolate drizzle. I put 6 oz of milk chocolate and a small(ish) amount of unmeasured heavy cream in the double-boiler and hoped for the best. The result was tasty but super rich and not quite the texture I was hoping for. But, hey, it certainly won’t stop me from eating them! 🙂

The final result! (Minus a few that were eaten throughout the process...)
The final result! (Minus a few that were eaten throughout the process…)

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