Joy the Baker

Strawberry Cream Puffs with Milk Chocolate Sauce

April 9, 2012

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Some problems can only be solved by Fiona Apple songs.  Loud.  In headphones.  All up in my brain.  In the car.  Drowning out surroundings.

Fiona Apple reminds me of heartbreak that I no longer mourn.  Young loves from years ago.  Young loves that feel old now.  Loves that I feel faded into just good memories.  The sting is gone… and it’s all just sweet.  The memories are indulgent.  The drama so pleasingly removed.  It’s like watching a movie in my head… me and that cute boy I loved are the star.  It’s tender and earnest.. and there is good even when it gets sad.

It’s hard to imagine how my now will someday have this faded comfort of my current memories.  All of the now feels so… now… and pressing and urgent.  If I’m lucky, my now will be my sweet moments later.

But really… the now is sweet indeed.

I made pastry vessels for whipped strawberry cream…. then I covered the whole thing in chocolate.  I’m not the first and I won’t be the last to do this.. but I feel pretty much like a genius.

If you had told me ten years ago that I’d be sitting on a bed eating strawberry cream and NOT crying to this song… I wouldn’t have believed you.  I would have called you a liar… because that song would always and forever tear out my heart.  Or.. not!  Because now it just feels sweet, and tender, and reminds me of love and strawberries and cream.

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Is it completely hard to believe that flour and butter turn into cream puffs?

It sort of blows my mind… it can’t be this simple, right?

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Right…

We need eggs.  Eggs do all the heavy lifting in this recipe.  They create the webbed and moist texture.  Eggs also create the lift and lightness in this dough.

Eggs are a wonder.

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If you’ve never made a pate a choux dough… it’s a little different.

Don’t let its difference intimidate you.

Flour is added to a mixture of simmering water and melted butter.

Sounds crazy, but it totally works out.

The mixture gets cooked and stirred over a low flame, helping the moisture cook out.  The process is entirely satisfying.

Once some of the moisture is cooked out, we’re going to add more fat and moisture with eggs!

This is the dough after two of four eggs are added.

It looks slightly tough and glue-y.

It will smooth out with the addition of more eggs.

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After four eggs are beaten into the flour mixture, the dough is glossy and smooth.  Thick and juuuuust pourable.

The dough gets piped onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Pro Tip One:  when this recipe asks you to line the baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper…. just do it.  Trust the process.

Pro Tip Two:  I used a 1/2-inch pastry tip (the #9) and disposable piping bags for this recipe.  It’s an investment…. but it’s totally worth it.  If you like to bake, disposable pastry bags and a few tips are really a great thing to have on hand.  Think on it.

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I have a new obsession in my kitchen:  freeze-dried strawberries!

These strawberries are my favorite part of packaged breakfast granola.  They come in a bag of just freeze-dried berries from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

I suppose you could even make your own freeze-dried strawberries.  That’s a whole thing that requires machinery.

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Because I don’t have proper machinery… I buy the bag of freeze-dried berries.

I used a spice grinder (though you could use a small food processor) to grind the berries into a powder.

This is the powder that will flavor and tint our whipped cream.

The best, right?

(The Tomato Tart has an amazing use for freeze-dried strawberries.  It’s the inspiration!)

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Just barely pink and full of strawberry flavor.

All you really need is a spoon.  Truth.

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Because I don’t know when to stop…. we need milk chocolate.

Let’s pour hot cream over it and call it a ganache.  Come on…. what’s better than that? (nothing… duh.)

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Let’s smash three desserts into one!

Profiteroles + Strawberry Cream + Milk Chocolate Sauce

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Nothing bitter.  It’s all just sweet.  Let’s keep it sweet.

This recipe is slightly adapted from Thomas Keller.  Ok… so it’s ballsy to adapt a Keller recipe… to be sure.  But!  I added strawberry cream.  I’m sure he’d understand.

If you don’t have access to freeze-dried strawberries, you can make a whipped cream filling with vanilla beans, you can add 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and double the powdered sugar, or you can add a splash of bourbon.  You’ve got options.

This might not be the sort of recipe you’d think to make.  I know… there are a lot of steps.  I know… you’re cooking dough.  It might feel weird and overwhelming.  Try something new!  Surprise your kitchen brain.  It needs surprising.

Strawberry Cream Puffs with Milk Chocolate Sauce

makes about 2 dozen puffs

adapted slightly from Thomas Keller

Print this Recipe!

For the Profiteroles:

1 cup water

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 to 5 large eggs

For the Strawberry Cream:

2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 cup freeze-dried strawberry powder

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Sauce:

4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

To make the Profiteroles:

Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar and salt.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted and the mixture is brought to a simmer, lower heat slightly, and add flour all at once.  Stir immediately using a stiff heat-proof spatula or a wooden spoon.  Stir until the mixture thickens, pulls away from the side of the pan, forms a mass, and the bottom of the pan is clean.  The mixture will be glossy and damp.

We’re going to cook the dough over a low flame.  This will allow moisture to evaporate from the dough, allowing it to absorb more fat when the eggs are added.  Stir for about 5 minutes.  A thing gluten coat will form along the bottom and sides of the pan.  When enough moisture has evaporated, the dough will steam and the cooking flour will smell slightly nutty.

Immediately transfer the dough to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, releasing some of the heat from the cooked dough.  Add four eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg is thoroughly incorporated.  Stop the mixer between each egg addition and scrape down the bowl.  After beating in the last egg the mixture should be glossy and thick… but still juuuust pourable.  When scooped into a spoon, the dough should slowly pour off the spoon.  If it doesn’t fall, or it fall in one giant clump… beat in the 5th egg.

Spoon the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch pastry tip.  On the prepared sheets, pipe out dough into circles so that they are about 1 1/2-inches across, about about 3/4-inch tall.  Space them about 1 1/2-inches apart on the sheet pan.    Bake for 10 minutes.  Rotate the pans from bottom shelf to top.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees F, and bake for 15 minutes more.

Remove a cream puff from the oven and slice in half.  If the inside is not gooey, but still just moist, they’re done!  If they’re gooey, bake for another 3 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the pan.

To make Strawberry Cream:

Place dehydrated  strawberries in a spice grinder or small food processor.  Grind to a powder.  Set aside 1/2 cup of pink strawberry powder.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, add cold cream and powdered sugar.  Beat of medium-high speed to incorporate.  Stop mixer, add strawberry powder and vanilla extract.  Beat on medium-high speed until just thick.  You want the cream to be thick and hold its shape, but not over whipped and on its way to butter.

Allow cream to chill in the refrigerator until it’s time to assemble the cream puffs.

To make the Milk Chocolate Sauce:

Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.

In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream and corn syrup until just simmering.  Pour hot cream mixture over chopped chocolate.  Let stand for 1 minute, then carefully whisk to incorporate.  Mixture will be glossy and smooth.  Refrigerate sauce if you’d like a thicker consistency.

To assemble Cream Puffs:

Cut each profiterole in half.  Top with 1 heaping tablespoon strawberry cream.  Place the top of profiterole on top of the cream.  Drizzle with chocolate.  Serve with coffee.  Once assembled, these are best served immediately.  Profiteroles can be made a day ahead, wrapped will and kept at room temperature.  Before serving, place profiteroles on a sheet pan and toast at 300 degrees F for about 5 minutes… just to heat through and re-crisp.  Cool then fill with cream and drizzle with chocolate sauce.  


156 Comments Add A Comment

  • Absolutely divine, Joy! LOVE the idea of the strawberry cream – will have to find me some of those freeze-dried strawberries.
    My oldest daughter is struggling after going through a break-up with her first love. It’s so very hard to watch her struggle and hurting, but I know eventually she will come out on the other side, and even look back on this one day knowing that EVERYTHING about the relationship, including the break-up was OK and perfectly timed. It’s all part of life and helps to make us who we are. It just really SUCKS when we’re going through it.
    Strawberry cream puffs with chocolate make it ALL better.

    • oh man… it suuuuuucks so bad! love to your daughter! (tell her to stay off facebook. that’s real).

      • Joy, SO funny that you mention FB!! Her father and I were just discussing last night how she needs to either unfriendly or block his status updates because it certainly is too real and that makes it all the more difficult for her.
        Technology has so changed relationships today and sometimes, it’s not for the better. :-/
        Thanks for the love, girl! oxox

  • I can so appreciate that “because I don’t know when to stop” ends up in chocolate land. Story of my life. Such a fun recipe can’t wait to try it!

  • i’m embarrassed at how much i can relate to sob singing to fiona apple songs. followed by numb singing to fiona apple songs years later. this recipe is the perfect treat to commemorate growing up and out of things that used to make me emo !

    ps, http://amandamantes.blogspot.com !

  • Thanks for introducing me to freeze-dried strawberries and for inspiring me to try out the disposable pastry bags. I would have never thought to grind the strawberries into a powder. These profiteroles are for breakfast, right?

  • A few years ago when I went through a mind blowing WTF heartbreak, Fiona was a dear friend of mine. She knows how to sing your feelings right from your own soul so that you can really feel every ounce of emotion. I hadn’t heard the song of hers you put in your post, but I remember listening to Shadowboxer on repeat as well as a barrage of other Fiona favorites. I love how relatable you are, missy…and your strawberry cream puffs look DELICIOUS! I have never been much of a pastry maker, but if concocting your recipe means these decadent little guys as a result while blaring Fiona, I’m all in. Thanks!

  • Wow! You described my relationship with this Fiona Apple song exactly! I have recently become reattached to “Paper Bag”. So glad she will have a new album soon:-) And thanks for your recipes:-)

  • My copy of your cookbook arrived last week and I’ve already made two recipes…love love LOVE it. These little puffs look incredible too – now just need to get my hands on some freeze dried strawberries.

  • Mmmmm! Cream puffs are one of my easy, go-to desserts. I’ve mixed very well chopped strawberries into whipped cream, but I’m sure it’s not as strawberry-ish as these. I will definitely try this next time I make them!

  • Strawberry powder? So clever! I want one of these now. And now you’re sending me off into listening to Fiona all day and reminding me of the summer I sang along with her just about every day.

  • The Now always becomes the Past. The Past is often sweeter than the Now, just because it is the Past. But sometimes the Now is sweet as it is, without the help of the Past. Because of strawberries, cream, and puffs. Looking forward to try them :-)

  • O Joy, you are my hero! I have made cream puffs before but I am currently looking for the perfect chocolate filling. Strawberry will surely do in the meantime! Yum!
    Also, OMG! I am posting a recipe tomorrow using freeze dried strawberries. Freaky! I would post it today but I have to finish my homework for you and Tracy first.

  • WOW these look awesome. I can’t count how many nights I would sit and listen to Fiona Apple…. and also the Cranberries on repeat crying over a certain boy.

  • That is what I’m talking about….. I need to get some guts and make cream puffs from scratch.

  • My wife cooks me profiteroles all the time with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. I can’t wait for us to try this. Chocolate and strawberries are one of my all time favorite combinations!

  • This must be incredible and their beautiful too.
    What’s a little extra work,

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