Monday, December 22, 2014

Custard Filled Puff Tower with Caramel Sauce - Profiterol with Caramel

Perfect dessert for your holidays: heavenly delicious puffs filled with rich custard cream, 
all piled up and decorated with crunchy caramel. Irresistible!

This recipe will FOR SURE make a big impression at your holiday dinner table.
Ready to learn how to make these delicious cream puffs?!?
It's not a hard recipe and it uses quite basic ingredients. But it involves many steps.
You first need to prepare the cream puffs, and make sure they are properly baked. If not, they deflate once they are out of the oven. Still good, but not so pretty!
Second, you need a deliciously creamy custard. You probably can't go wrong with this recipe. I made it with corn starch, not flour, and it tastes delicious. It's thick and rich, with pudding-like texture. Amazing with the puffs!
Now, you can fill the puffs with the cream and enjoy them just like that.

Or you can add some caramel, and assemble them in a tower. To make the caramel, you only need to cook the sugar until melted and golden in color. No other ingredients. Easy, but a bit messy. Caramel quickly cools down and sticks everywhere. It ended up all over my kitchen. Stove, counters, floors, ... my camera - please don't ask!
You will need to dip each puff in the hot, melted caramel, and decorate it as you like. Also, be really careful: it's easy to burn your fingers ... yes, I'm talking from experience!
Many steps, but trust me: every bite of this dessert if filled with a soft and sweet bigne', stuffed with heavenly and rich cream, with a sugary caramel crunch.
After all this work, you can take a deep breath, sit down, serve yourself... hmmm... let's say: three puffs (or more!), close your eyes, and enjoy!

Ingredients: to make 26 puffs about 2 inches in diameter
For the puffs:
  • 4 oz, 1 stick (110 gr) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons (30 gr) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 10 fl oz (300 ml) water
  • 1 cup (150 gr) all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
For the custard cream:
  • 12 fl oz (355 ml) of whole milk
  • 4 fl oz (120 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (100 gr) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (40 gr) of corn starch
For the caramel (optional):
  • 1 cup (200 gr) of sugar

Preparation time: 90 minutes

Step 1: Let's start with the puffs: in a large pan, bring to a boil 10 oz of water with the butter cut in pieces, sugar, vanilla extract and salt.

Step 2: As soon as the water starts to boil, whisk in the flour. Lower the heat, and mix continuously.
When the mixture starts to detach from the sides of the pan, remove from the heat. Place the dough in a different bowl and let cool down for 10 minutes or so.

Step 3: In the meantime you can prepare the custard cream so it has time to cool down. Follow this recipe. using 12 oz of whole milk, 4 oz  heavy whipping cream, 1 teaspoons vanilla extract, 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar and 4 tablespoons of corn starch, as listed in the ingredients. Store the custard in the refrigerator when cool, covered with plastic wrap until the puffs are ready.
Step 4: When the puff dough is a bit cooler, mix the eggs, one at the time, until the mixture is nice and smooth.

Step 6: Preheat the oven to 350º F (180º C). Pipe the mixture into balls onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or silicone mat. Make sure you leave enough space between the puffs, because when they cook they will increase in size.

Step 7: Bake for 30-35 minutes, until they are nicely golden on top. Turn off the oven, and leave the puffs inside, with the door slightly open, until they cool down a bit. This will prevent the puffs to flatten down once outside the oven.

Step 8: Once the puffs are cooled down,  use a piping bag, and fill the puffs with custard cream.

Step 9: If you would like to make a tower, first decide where to place the puffs, and get an idea on how you would like to build it (how many pieces and which are the largest that you will place on the bottom). To prepare the caramel: in a large pot, with heavy bottom, melt the sugar over medium heat. Stir until all the sugar is melted and has a golden color. Remove from the heat and dip the bottom of the cream puffs in the caramel. Place them on the serving plate. The caramel will become hard very quickly so you won't be able to move the puffs. 

Finish the tower and decorate with more caramel, and whipped cream if you like. To make the star, I used melted caramel on parchment paper spread out in the shape of a star (as well as I could). It quickly cools down and easily peel off. You can place it on top of your puff tree, using more caramel to hold it up.
Happy Holidays!


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