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« Food and Travel—What we can Take Away | Main | Memorial Day Thoughts »

Strawberries to Mix and Match

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Our local farmers’ markets are burgeoning with beautiful, red-ripe and scrumptious strawberries right now. So, I was inspired to bake me a strawberry dessert.

Strawberry Cream Puffs are light clouds of eggy dough, crisp on the outside, with a creamy filling inside, and juicy sliced strawberries sandwiched in between.

While the component parts are not difficult, it’s rather a long recipe for Special Fork, so I’ve divided the dessert into two: you can make each recipe as a stand-alone, or do both recipes, as you see fit.

Here’s how you can mix and match.

Make just the puffs, which you can prep in less than 30 minutes and bake in 35. Now you have some options:

  • Fill with cream filling (recipe below) and sliced strawberries
  • Fill with sweetened whipped cream and sliced strawberries
  • Fill with scoops of ice cream and sliced strawberries—serve this one immediately

Just make the cream filling, which you can make in a half hour, start to finish:

  • Use as a filling for cream puffs (recipe below)
  • Use as a stand-alone pudding, topped with sliced strawberries
  • Use it in a parfait, layering cream filling, whipped cream and strawberries or other fresh fruit, in tall glasses
  • Fill a prebaked tart shell and top with strawberries or other fresh fruit

Cream Puffs
1 cup boiling water
½ cup (8 tablespoons) butter, cut in a few pieces
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 400⁰F.

In a medium saucepan combine water and butter and bring to a boil. When water begins to boil and butter has melted, add flour all at once, lower heat to medium and continue to stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until the ingredients form a smooth satiny dough, about 1 minute.

Remove from heat and beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until the mixture looks smooth and the dough knits together in a satiny mass. Spoon enough dough to fill a ¼-cup dry measuring cup and drop on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between each puff. Use a small spatula to smooth out craggy bumps in the dough.

Bake about 35 minutes or until golden. Remove to wire rack. As soon as the puffs are cool enough to the touch, use a sharp serrated knife to slice in half lengthwise, using a light sawing motion. This will allow the steam to escape so puffs will not be soggy inside. Complete cooling puff halves on rack.

If you aren’t using them right away, store puffs in an airtight container for up to two days; freeze for longer storage. If puffs are no longer crisp, heat on a baking sheet, uncovered, cut-sides down, in a 350⁰F oven for 5 minutes.

To serve, fill with cream filling (recipe below), sweetened whipped cream or ice cream (pre-scoop ice cream and refreeze on a baking sheet so ice cream is firm), and sliced strawberries. Sift powdered sugar on top. Makes 10 cream puffs.

Cream Filling
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
Pinch of salt
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon vanilla

In a medium saucepan whisk together sugar, flour and salt. Whisk in milk. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 8 minutes. (Be sure to stir well around the edge of the saucepan, where mixture will tend to clump.) Turn off heat.

Add a few tablespoons of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, stirring with a fork. (The hot milk helps to equalize the temperature between the yolks and the milk to keep yolks from turning into scrambled eggs.) Add the yolks to the milk mixture in the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, about 3 minutes, until yolks are incorporated into the filling and it is smooth and thick.

Remove saucepan from the heat; whisk in butter and vanilla. Cool filling and refrigerate.

Use the filling to stuff cream puffs, to make fruit parfaits, or enjoy as a pudding. Or fill a pre-baked tart shell and top with strawberries or other fresh fruits. Makes 2 cups.

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