Lemon Blackberry Cream Puffs with Dairy-Free Pastry Cream
Sometimes food blogging is hard, guys. I don’t mean hard as in, “Oh no, well I guess *someone* has to eat these cream puffs, wink wink” – although it is that too. I mean hard as in sometimes it takes 3 weekends of baking to develop the recipe you’re after and then your photos turn out kind of lackluster and you still haven’t even written up the post and recipe to go with them yet.
Thank goodness there are cream puffs or I would quit this job ASAP.
(Fun fact: Food blogging is not actually my job! I have a day job that involves me doing computer-y things at a computer all day long. I don’t actually get paid for blogging… except in baked goods. I think we can all agree that’s almost as good as money.)
It’s been one of those months where keep this little blog going has been a challenge. Sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to invent the next Most Awesome RecipeTM, take the most gorgeous food photos, do something incredible in the kitchen that has never been done before. But eventually I come to my senses and just make some cream puffs instead, because who doesn’t like cream puffs? They might not be the prettiest or the coolest or the best ever, but they are pretty darn good.
There are three separate components to this recipe, but don’t freak out. Each is individually easy to make and two of the three can be made ahead of time. First is the blackberry curd. It’s packed with jammy fruit flavor and, well, just look at that gorgeous color.
Next comes the lemon pastry cream. I made it with coconut milk this time. It doesn’t taste like coconut, but it is dairy-free! The pastry cream has a good amount of lemon flavor without being LEMON. Getting the lemon and blackberry balance just right was important because bright, tart lemon can easily overwhelm the subtle blackberry. Last but not least, my favorite pate a choux to hold all of the lemon blackberry goodness.
There are two ways to assemble these cream puffs. If you’re serving them right away and don’t have to take them anywhere (which I recommend), slice the puffs in half, stuff a few fresh blackberries in the bottom, then cover them with the lemon pastry cream and a generous dollop of blackberry curd. Get ready to swoon.
If you do need to travel with your puffs, poke a hole in the bottom, use a squeeze bottle or pastry bag to fill the insides with curd and pastry cream, then plug up the hole with a fresh blackberry. You get a little less filling this way, but they’re less messy and they kinda taste like cream-filled donuts, which is never a bad thing.
Lemon Blackberry Cream Puffs with Dairy-Free Pastry Cream
Makes 10-12 large cream puffs
Prepare blackberry curd and pastry cream at least 4 hours ahead, up to 2 days ahead.
Pate a choux puffs can be prepared several hours before serving, or prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer. If using immediately, let the puffs sit at room temperature. If frozen, thaw puffs at room temperature, then rewarm in a 350°F oven until warm and crisped.
There are two ways to assemble these cream puffs. If you’re serving them right away and don’t have to take them anywhere (which I recommend), slice the puffs in half, stuff a few fresh blackberries in the bottom, spoon or pipe lemon pastry cream over berries and add generous dollop of blackberry curd.
If you need to travel with your puffs, use the steam-release hole on the bottom to fill the puffs. Place pastry cream and curd in separate squeeze bottles or pastry bags. Fill puffs with curd first, then pastry cream. Plug up the hole by *gently* pressing a fresh blackberry into it.
Dust with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.
Adapted from Phemomenon
Makes about 1 cup
8 ounces fresh blackberries
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
Pinch of salt
1/2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
In a food processor or blender, puree blackberries until mostly smooth. Pour blackberry puree into a medium saucepan. Add sugar, egg, and salt. In a small glass, stir cornstrach into lemon juice. Add to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until curd thickens enough to leave whisk tracks while stirring. Remove from heat. Pour through a mesh strainer into a heat proof container, using a spoon to push curd through if necessary. Discard solids. Refrigerate curd for at least 4 hours.
Dairy-Free Lemon Pastry Cream
Adapted from BraveTart
Makes about 3 cups
I realize most coconut milk comes in 13.5 or 14-ounce cans, so you’ll need 2 to make this recipe. You can use the leftover coconut milk to make smoothies, curries, your morning coffee or just about anything else that calls for dairy milk.
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
5 ounces granulated sugar
1 1/2 ounces cornstarch
pinch kosher salt
15 1/2 ounces full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
lemon zest from 1 lemon
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, yolk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until combined and free of lumps.
Bring coconut milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Slowly pour 2/3 cup hot coconut milk into the egg mixture, whisking briskly and constantly, to temper the eggs. Add tempered egg mixture back to coconut milk on the stove, whisking constantly. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking, until mixture becomes very thick, like pudding. (Mixture may seem over-thick; it will thin with the addition of lemon juice at the end.) Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla extract.
Pour pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Stir in lemon zest. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, pushing the wrap onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Pate A Choux Puffs
Adapted from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz
Makes about 10-12 large puffs
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats.
Bring water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. As soon as the butter has melted and the mixture boils, using a spatula, stir in the flour all at once until a thick paste forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Cool for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Briskly beat the eggs in one at a time with a spatula, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next, until dough is smooth and shiny.
Using a large scoop (4 tablespoon size, normally used for muffins), scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet leaving at least 1 inch of space between each. You should get 10-12 puffs.
Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 375°F. Continue baking for another 10-15 minutes, or until puffs are golden brown on top and sides. Turn off oven and let puffs sit in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and poke each puff on the bottom with a paring knife to release steam. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Puffs are best used the same day they are baked, or you can freeze them in a zip-top freezer bag for up to a month.