Sunday, 22 March 2015

Choux Pastry aka creme puff

Creme puff and I go way way back. My first ever creme puff was from a local bakery in Penang. I remember clearly why I got to taste it too...let's just say choosing school shoes was a rather difficult task for little hungry Michelle. Mum had to go next door and grab whatever she could find from the bakery and literally shove it in my mouth hah!.. I can imagine her pain now that I'm a mother of two.
Anyhow, I remember how deliciously smooth the cream filling was and the choux pastry being so fragrant and yummy. Ever since that first bite, I would be asking for eclairs whenever we passed by a bakery that would sell them. 

After researching and numerous attempts at baking choux pastry, I can finally say this is a fool proof recipe for idiots like me. Bonus points for tasting exactly the same as the one that was shoved in my mouth many umpteenth years ago!

I went one step further to create a durian creme puff. Durian is known as the "king of fruit". Being away from Malaysia, you can only get frozen durians. I remember when I was pregnant with Isaac back in NZ I would crave for it. I would buy the frozen ones to bring home and after leaving it to thaw the whole day, it was still very frozen, and there's no way we could open it. So the idea of steaming came to mind. Desperate times calls for desperate measures! But because Dad doesn't like durian, we had to steam it using the wet kitchen on the deck. What a sight - middle of winter in Auckland with three adults standing next to the stove while eating steamed durian! What an experience! 

So with my durian obsession, it was no surprise that when I came across a tub of durian essence the other day at the local shop, just smelling it was enough to make me crave it. So I came home and started making this rendition of creme puff! I had a durian creme puff a few months ago when we went back to Penang for my grandma's funeral. My little cousin bought some for me and I thought it was brilliant and utterly delicious. Using durian flesh elevates the taste of the puffs to a whole different dimension, but if you are in a pinch, the essence will do. 

Ingredients :

Creme filling

400ml milk
4 egg yolks
2 fresh durian flesh or 1/2 tablespoon durian essence
100g sugar
2 tablespoon self raising flour
2 tablespoon corn flour

Choux pastry

3/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup plain flour
2 teaspoon corn flour
2 teaspoon baking powder 
3/4 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of salt
4 eggs

Steps :

Creme filling:

In a food processor, puree the durian flesh and refrigerate for later.

In a pot warm milk on low to medium heat, being careful not to burn the milk. Stirring occasionally. When warm, turn heat off and remove to cool.

In a bowl, beat the egg yolk and sugar till light and creamy. Sieve in the plain flour and corn flour and mix until all combined. 

Pour in half the warmed milk to the egg mixture. Mix thoroughly and using a sieve to pour back the egg mixture in the pot. That way you know everything is mixed well. Add in the durian essence if you are not using fresh durian.

Over a low heat, stir until the mixture thickens. Remove heat, pour into a bowl and cover the surface with gladwrap, as you do not want a skin forming on the custard. Refrigerate immediately.

Choux pastry:

Preheat oven to 195 degree Celcius.

Using low to medium heat, melt the butter and water in a pot. Set aside to cool.

Sieve in all the flour, sugar and salt. Mix well until everything combines into a soft dough.

In low heat, cook the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the pot. Remove and let it cool.

Using an electronic beater, add an egg at a time till the dough becomes smooth. Transfer into a pipping bag.

On a baking tray with baking paper and start pipping the batter. Make sure you spread them as the puff up when bake. Depends on the size you want your puffs to be, I usually pipe them into 3cm diameter. 

Using a wet finger, gently press the tip down.

Bake in the oven for 30 mins or until golden brown and puffed up.

Cool on rack.

If using the durian puree, combine the pre-made custard with the durian, whisking until smooth.

You can now choose to either split the choux pastry in half and spread the custard in between or you can pipe it in. I personally like to pipe mine in because it looks neater and better.

Dust it with icing sugar, dip it in melted chocolate or drizzle on top and serve! YUM!!!!

Happy baking everyone!

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