Perfect Savory Cream Puffs

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    Thirty-six

    1 inch puffs

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About

Oven Temperature 425°F/220°C; then 350°F/175°C for the cream puffs; 300°F/150°C for the faux gras

Baking Time 25 to 30 minutes for the cream puffs; 30 to 35 minutes for the faux gras

These cream puffs can be filled with any manner of things from whipped cream or ice cream to savory fillings such as pâté or foie gras. As foie gras traditionally is accompanied by dessert wine, whose sweet acidity complements the richness of the foie gras, I have topped these cream puffs, which make elegant hors d’oeuvres, with ruby port caramel. The port lends the caramel a stunning mahogany hue and multidimensional flavor. The homemade “faux gras” is adapted from Happy in the Kitchen by Michel Richard.

Plan Ahead If filling with the faux gras, make the faux gras at least 4 hours ahead.

Method

Make the Cream Puff Pastry

See recipe.

Preheat the Oven

Thirty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C.

Shape the Puffs

The mixture will be smooth and shiny and it should be too soft to hold peaks when lifted with a spoon. If it is too stiff, add a little extra water. (The dough can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated overnight or up to 2 days.) Beat the mixture lightly with a wooden spoon before piping.

Dab a small dot of the dough in each corner of the inverted half sheet pan under the floured parchment and press the parchment lightly to affix it.

Scrape the cream puff mixture into the pastry bag. For the savory puffs, pipe puffs about 1 inch in diameter and ½ to ¾ inch high (about 0.3 ounce/9 grams each), about 1 inch apart onto the half sheet pan. For larger dessert puffs, pipe them about inches in diameter (about 0.6 ounce/18 grams each). Alternatively, use a teaspoon lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray to scoop out the dough. With a fingertip, push the dough off the spoon and onto the half sheet pan.

Dip a fingertip into water and smooth the tops of the puffs. Spritz or brush the puffs lightly with water.

Bake the Puffs

Bake for 10 minutes. To prevent the puffs from collapsing, do not open the oven door. Lower the heat to 350°F/175°C and continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn off the oven.

Set the pan on a wire rack for 1 minute. Using your fingers or tongs, transfer the puffs to the wire rack set on the baking sheet. Return the puffs to the oven. Use a wooden spoon to prop open the oven door and let the puffs dry for 10 minutes. Close the oven door and leave the puffs in the oven for 1½ hours to dry out completely (or continue baking at 200°F/90°C for 45 minutes). Test a puff by cutting it in half horizontally. The dough inside should not be soft to the touch. If it is still soft, let it dry for a little longer.

Cool the Puffs

Remove the puffs from the oven and let them cool completely on the wire rack. Store them in a gallon-size reclosable freezer bag or airtight container until ready to fill.

Fill the Puffs

Use a serrated knife to cut each puff horizontally in half.

For a savory appetizer, fill each puff with a rounded teaspoon/0.5 ounce/14 grams of foie gras, “faux gras,” or the filling of your choice.

For a dessert version, fill each puff with 2 teaspoons of lightly sweetened whipped cream or 1 tablespoon of softened ice cream.

For crispy puffs, fill only the puffs that are to be served. Refrigerate and store extra faux gras in its own container.

Make the Liver Puree

See recipe.

Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C.

Bake the Faux Gras

Bake for 30 minutes, or just until set. (An instant-read thermometer should read 148°F/64°C.)

Chill the Faux Gras

Cover tightly and chill for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Make the Ruby Port Caramel

See recipe.

Apply the Caramel

Shortly before serving, scrape the caramel into a small bowl. Dip the tops of the filled puffs into the caramel and then set them, bottom side down, on serving plates. Do not cover the puffs once the caramel has been applied because the caramel will soften and liquefy.

Store

Airtight: Room temperature, 1 day; refrigerated, 1 week; frozen, 6 months.

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