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Swan Cream Puffs

Category: Dessert
Source: Kristen J. Gough
URL - Link: Inspired in part by a recipe in Mexican Border Flavors: The Beautiful Cookbook.
Ingredients: Dough for the puffs
2 cups water
1 cup butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
8 eggs

Chocolate cream
2 cups semi-sweet or white chocolate chips
2 8-oz.packages cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1/4 cup raspberry jam (optional, but good)
Directions: 1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

2. To make the dough, place butter and water into a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Slowly, bring the water and butter to a boil.

3. As soon as the mixture begins to boil, remove it from the heat source and add the flour in all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together to form a ball.

4. Let the ball cool for around four minutes, then add the eggs one at a time. Beat after each egg is added.

5. At this point, you could just drop the dough in heaping tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet, but if you're up for a challenge, break out the pastry bag! I use what's called a 'Mechanical Pastry Bag' (I bought on sale at Michaels) to create the swan shapes.

6. Assembling the swan: You'll need four large, ungreased baking pans (I highly recommend using parchment paper to line the pan, even though the dough shouldn't stick to an ungreased pan it may). One pan will contain the swan necks, one and a half will contain swan wings, and the rest of the space can be used for the base and regular puffs.

7. First baking pan: Swan necks. Place 1/3 of the puff dough into your pastry bag fitted with a large, straight tip (you want a tip that is about the diameter of a pencil eraser top). Draw "2s" in three rows on the pan, each one stretching to about two inches in height. The curved part of the "2" is the swan's neck and head, while the bottom of the "2" will tuck between the wings to support the weight of the head. Place this pan into the oven while you prepare the rest. The necks should cook for only about nine minutes or so – keep a close watch, because these thinner puffs cook (and burn!) quickly.

8. Second baking pan: Swan wings. Change the pastry tip to either a large open star tip, or even a large leaf tip (I've never purchased tips; I always just use what's available in my kit). Working left to right, start with a thicker, rounded portion of dough, and then draw the tip upwards and to the right: The winged shape should look like a sideways, slightly curved teardrop (these should be about one-and-a-half inches in length). Again, make three rows of wings. Keep in mind that the dough will grow to at least double what's on the pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until slightly browned.

9. With the remaining pans and dough: Using open star tip create circular cream puffs (these should be about two inches in length). Some of these puffs you'll use as the base for your swan; the others you can make into regular puffs. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until slightly browned.

10. Making the cream: Melt the chocolate and the heavy cream in the microwave at full power for about one to two minutes. Stir. If there are any lumps, microwave the mixture again at 10-second intervals or until the chocolate melts completely. (Stir in the raspberry jam if you're using it.) Set aside and allow to cool.

11. Beat the cream cheese and the sugar together in a medium-sized bowl. Once the mixture appears light and creamy, gradually add in the chocolate. (Note! Keep the chocolate pan handy with just a little chocolate inside to make swan eyes and beaks.) Whip the entire mixture again and place into a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip.

12. Assembling your swan: Now for the fun part! Gently remove the swan necks from the pan (some may break, but that's why you have several). Dip the swans "beak" (the end of the "2") into the chocolate mixture. (Obviously, if you're using white chocolate, you'll have to melt some additional darker chocolate.) Allow the swan necks to harden on wax paper.

13. Carefully cut the base pieces in half. On the bottom portion, add a generous swirl of the chocolate cream. Gently cut a swan wing in half. Pushing in gingerly with your fingers, place the swan neck base (so the bottom of the '2') into the cream swirl. Place a wing on either side of the neck base to cover it. Repeat with the remaining parts. Once you've assembled all of the swans, use a toothpick to dot each side of the swan head with a chocolate eye. Refrigerate until firm. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

14. At the end, you'll have mismatched cream puff tops (leftover from the bases), which you can use to create regular cream puffs.

Note: For white swans, use white chocolate in the cream filling and omit the raspberry jam. For a stronger chocolate flavor, opt for semi-sweet.


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