Cream puffs, eclairs, Croquembouche, Profiteroles, and Gougeres, are just a few of the pastries that begin with Pate a Choux. Pate a Choux is a dough, or batter that is first made on the stove top then spooned or piped and baked in the oven. As it bakes it puffs into a golden, light pastry that is airy and moist on the inside and nearly hollow. When cooled, the space inside can be filled with any number of fillings, such as whipped cream, pastry cream, ice cream, or even savory salads and cheese.
To make this wonderful dough first; water, milk, butter, salt, and sugar is heated and stirred until it comes to a rolling boil. A single addition of flour is added, and mixed until the lumpy, pasty mass turns into a smooth dough. Off the heat in a mixer bowl eggs are added one at a time. The eggs provide moisture and together with the butter in the oven will convert to steam and cause the pastry to rise (approximately three times its original size). In this recipe Dorie instructs us to pipe the dough into an 8" ring and bake. I have chosen to do two 4" rings just in case I decide to share. This means we eat only half the calories, right? (Yay for sharing!!)
After the rings are cooled completely the filling for this project is going to be a minty cream with the addition of sour cream or creme fraiche. I admit the addition of sour cream sounds a bit foreign to me, but I am always willing to try something new. First things first, back to the cream. Heavy cream and mint leaves are brought to a boil and allowed to steep about 3 hours then chilled. The cold cream is strained and is now ready for sweetening and whipping. Sweetened sour cream is gently folded into the whipped cream. Time to taste (oh, how I love to sample!), the mint flavor can be made stronger with the addition of extract.
The rings are sliced horizontally using a serrated knife and the space is filled with piped rosettes of the mint cream. Now if that is not enough... a chocolate glaze is spooned over the top and a sprinkle of toasted, sliced almonds for a little touch of class. Phew!
Mission results: While the mint cream was very refreshing the addition of sour cream was not as appealing. My tasters preferred the simply sweetened whipped cream on the second ring and happily polished it off! No sharing this time but, all's well that ends well.