Tea Infused Cream Puffs Recipe
Cream Puffs are a magical thing. They are utterly luxurious and something many of us don't think to make for ourselves, but it isn't that hard, and it is SO worth it! The addition of tea adds a complexity of flavor, and somehow makes the luxury into pure decadence!
The day of:
Combine the strained cream, 2 eggs, ¼ cup sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1T of starch (I used arrowroot, but tapioca powder, corn starch, potato starch, etc. will work too) in a double boiler and whisk until slightly frothy. Slowly heat till the water in the bottom of the double boiler is at a rolling boil, then simmer and stir often until it becomes relatively thick. Remember, it will set a bit as it cools, but you want it to be thick enough to scoop or pipe, not ladle. Many recipes call for heating the milk first, then tempering the eggs, and then cooking it all together. When there is starch involved, I have never found that necessary. As with all of my cooking, go for it if you need to alter the ingredients a bit! Have 3 egg yolks left from something? Use those instead of 2 eggs. Need it non-dairy? Almond creamer (not almond milk, it needs to be thicker than that) works great! So does goat milk!
Set it in the refrigerator to cool. While it is cooling, Heat the oven to 400F.
Strain the milk into a pot on medium-low heat. Cube up 1/2C of butter and melt it in the milk. Add 2T sugar (Optional, but good), a pinch of salt, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add 1C all-purpose flour all at once and stir like mad.
It will look like a disaster for about 10 seconds, then turn into a smooth, sticky dough. Keep it on the heat for a minute or so more until you start getting a thin film of toasted dough on the bottom. If you have an instant-read thermometer, you are looking to hit between 165F and 175F. This does something magic to the gluten called gelatinizing. It is what makes it possible for the dough to puff up the way it does.
Take the pot off the stove and let it cool a bit. The next thing you are doing is adding eggs, and you don't want scrambled eggs, but you also need the dough to be still a bit warm, so it is loose and not concrete (which is what this will turn into if you let it get cold).
Add 3 eggs, one at a time. Mix until the dough is smooth between each egg. It will become smooth and glossy as you add more eggs. Scramble the 4th egg and drizzle it in while mixing until you get something thick enough to go through a pastry bag but stiff enough to scoop with a spoon. Don't worry too much- if it is a bit thick or a bit thin, it may not be perfect, but it will still be good! It can be helpful to let the dough rest an hour or so, but it isn't required.
Baking these is one of the few times I use parchment paper. Line a baking pan with the paper and dampen it a little to help with the steam action that puff and make mounds of dough on the paper. You can use a pastry bag, a ziplock with the corner cut off, a small ice crème scoop, or plain old spoons to do this. The ones in my pictures were done with a zip lock. At this point, you can glaze them a bit if you want- paint them with egg mixed with a bit of water, with melted butter, or simply spray with pan spray - I won't tell! It will help them be shiny and crackle less on top. That said, I didn't do that to mine!
How long they bake depends on the size and shape. My little ones took about 15 min. Don't open the door while baking, but looking through the glass, when they have gone POOF and look nicely toasty, turn the heat off and leave them for about 30min. Opening the door during baking usually results in watching as your glorious puffs deflate into pancakes.
When cool, split them open and fill them with the cream! You can top them all kinds of ways, I did chocolate, but powdered sugar or some of the tea caramel from a few recipes back would be lovely!
The Chocolate I used was ½ cup dark chocolate chips, 2T strong tea (surprised? I didn't think so), and microwaved in 10-second bursts until I could stir it smooth and drizzle it on.* many recipes for Choux paste call for water. I used a milk-based one as the acidic nature of the tea seems to affect the puffs. My theory is that it changes the chemical structure of the gelatinized gluten. The milk brings the liquid back closer to PH neutral or base. I did not try this with a milk substitute- if you do, let us know what you used and if it worked!