The Tale of the Cream Puff

Posted by Brette in Food

We were heading out to my parents’ lake house for Memorial Day weekend and I needed a dessert to bring. I like to get my cooking done ahead so I can spend the time there enjoying the water. Martha’s Cream Puffs with Lemon Mousse and Blueberry Sauce (June Martha Stewart Living) sounded very summery and light, so I decided to make that.

cream puff1So there I was on a Friday night, making cream puffs. I’ve never made cream puffs before. They were a little more complicated than I expected. First you cook sugar, water, butter and salt and then you add flour and cook it again. Once that’s done you beat in eggs. You know it’s ready when you can touch it and take your finger away and a string follows your finger. I was worried it wasn’t going to work, but it did. It was quite similar to Gougere, an hors d’oevres I’ve made often.

Next you bake your cream puffs.  Martha says to use a pastry bag to get them cream puff2on the baking sheet. Piffle. I just used a spoon. And really, that worked out quite well. The recipe says it makes 10 but I was able to get 12.

They bake a surprisingly long time, but when they were done, they looked great. Now, let me say candidly that these are probably best the same day you bake them, but I had to put them in a plastic container and save them for cream puff3the next day. They did get a tiny bit mushy I think, so eat them the same day if you can.

Next, I got to work on the lemon curd, which would become the lemon mousse. I’ve never made lemon curd before and it was quite easy. Eggs, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest get cooked, then butter gets mixed in. Pretty easy. I put that in a container to chill and bring along with us.

The next step was the blueberry sauce. Blueberries, water, sugar, salt and lemon zest get cooked down. At the end you add in more blueberries. No problem. I got that done and chilling.

The next morning I packed it all up, along with the heavy cream I needed to make the lemon mousse. It all went into a cooler and came along with us. That night, I served it.

First I cut the cream puffs in half. Next, I got to work on the lemon mousse and here is where things get out of control. I grabbed the heavy cream, dumped it into a bowl and started whipping. Nothing happened. It got foamy but not fluffy. Finally I looked at the carton and realized I had grabbed half and half, which comes in an identical carton (who’s the labeling genius in charge of that I’d like to know!). Down the drain that went and I started over, this time making sure I had the whipping cream I had brought with me. I got it whipped up and stuck my finger in it to check the texture and licked my finger off and immediately gagged. The cream was bad! And I had just bought it two days ago. The expiration date was not until the end of June. What the hell! Fortunately my mother had another carton of heavy cream, so I set to work whipping for the third time and this time it all worked out.

cream puff4I folded the whipped cream with the curd and voila! Lemon mousse. I filled the cream puffs with the mousse and was getting ready to put the blueberry sauce on them. My son asked me not to put sauce on his. My father overheard this and asked for me to do the same thing for his.

We sat down to eat and my dad took a bite and said, “Oh! It’s lemon! I thought they were regular profiteroles.” My mother then says to him, “It’s not French honey, it’s Martha,” and takes his plate and goes and puts the blueberry sauce on it. He thought they were regular cream puffs and didn’t like the idea of blueberry sauce on them. Once he realized they weren’t, then he was willing to try it.

These were quite good, despite all the effort it took to produce them! The lemon mousse was light and fluffy and just lemony enough. The blueberry sauce was a nice contrast. It all worked well together and was a nice summer dessert. I enjoyed it a lot. I have to admit I would probably rather have regular cream puffs with chocolate sauce though!

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