Monday, June 27, 2011

Strawberry Picking Party

Éclairs and cream Puffs

1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup skim milk
1 cup unsalted butter (or salted and omit salt below)
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
2 cups all purpose flour (measure onto a parchment and set aside)
8 eggs
2 tbsp water (set aside)

Preheat oven to 425 (or 400 if your oven is hotter than average like mine!)

Set the stove to medium heat. In a large heavy bottom saucepan bring the butter, milk, water, salt, sugar to a boil.
Once it boils remove from heat and dump in the flour all at once.

With a wooden spoon begin to mix vigouresly, mix mix mix and it will come together into a big soft doughy lump (like a dumpling!)

Now put the pan back onto the heat and mix for 1 minute moving the dough around and around with a durable silicone spatula or wooden spoon.

Get your mixer ready. Remove the pot off the heat and dump the lump of dough into your mixer bowl.

If using hand beaters put it in a big bowl.

I let the mixture cool for 5 mins while I crack all the eggs into another bowl with a spout (for easy pouring one at a time)

Now begin beating your mixture with a paddle or hand beater on medium speed and add the eggs in one at a time and incorporate.

By the last egg your dough should not be sticky but should kind of be slippery and fall off the paddle.

Get some pastry bags ready, I used 2. Set them inside a clean ice cream or plastic yogurt container for easy filling. Dump in the dough.

Prepare your pans with parchment.

* I found that the dough when warm slips right out of the piping bag and then goes flat onto the pan very quickly resulting in flat eclairs/cream puffs so I let the dough sit a bit in the bag and it gets thicker (just a few mins for the first batch)

Cut the tip of your bag or if using a frosting tip then pipe 6" long tubes for eclairs and little blobs for cream puffs.

Don't worry if you get a whip at the top, this is what the water is for. Dip your fingers in the water and just pat that down so they don't burn.

Set your pans in the oven (again my oven is very hot so I had to find it's groove, I set a big heavy pan in the bottom rack so the bottoms of the puffs wouldn't burn so easily)

Bake at the 425 for 10-15 mins (mine worked good at 10 mins)

Now you lower the temp to 375 (in my case 350) and bake for an additional 20-25 mins (23 was good for me)


Once the time is up take them out and let them cool, have two pans ready to go so you dont' disturb these freshly baked ones.

I had lots of dough so several batches using the same technique of baking and this was enough for a large party, if you have leftovers just cool them and freeze on a baking sheet or put in a large zip lock bag and somewhere in the freezer where they won't be squished. Works beautifully!

I did all these the day before so put the ones you will serve at your party in the fridge overnight, they will be fine.
Crisp them up on 200 the day before for a few mins. Just spread them on a baking sheet while you melt your chocolate, whip the heavy cream and chop the desired fruit.

If you made the pastry cream a day or two before hand you'll be all ready to go, I had it ready in a piping bag (set the tip on for easy filling of the eclairs) and set the bag in a bix tupperware container.

Luscious Pastry Cream

Enough to fill all the eclairs baked above, which is half of the recipe.

2 cups milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sifted corn starch
3 1/2 tbsp butter, chopped in cubes and at room temperature


In a heavy bottom saucepan bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat.

Meanwhile in another heavy bottom saucepan whisk your egg yolks, sugar and corn starch together until you get a creamy yellow mixture.

When the milk simmers at the point just before boiling remove from heat, get your whisk ready and pour a bit into your egg mixture whisking to temper it..... now it's safe to add it all and whisk.

Set the pot back onto the heat (medium-medium low) and whisk until it thickens.

Have a bowl and a strainer ready (the strainer just for a smoother finish but mine had no lumps or anything) Once it thickens strain it into the bowl (scraping the strainer to get it all through)

Wait 5 mins then begin stirring in your butter cubes, little at a time until it's all incorporated, luscious, smooth and shiny.

Cover with a cling wrap to avoid a film in the top of your custard and let it cool, then you can set it in the fridge. Or put it in a pastry bag and set it in another container in the fridge to avoid the extra step on your big day.

Chocolate Glaze:

- 4 ounces dark chocolate (chopped)
- 1/2 cup milk

In a bowl over a double boiler.

Assemble your eclairs once they are cool after crisping or baking.

Poke a small hole on the side with a shark knife twisting a bit and then fill with pastry cream.

Dip the top into chocolate and set on the plate to cool.

For cream puffs, cut in half and layer fruit, dollop of whip cream and return the cap on. Alternately poke a small hole in the bottoms and fill with whipped cream (heavy cream, a few tbsp of powder sugar and splash of vanilla whipping by hand or in the mixer until it is smooth and thick)

Now you're all set to go, plate and dust the cream puffs with powder sugar if desired, I forgot to do this but normally I would.


Here are some shots from our strawberry picking party, it was a blast!!
For the Strawberry-Matcha-Chocolate checkerboard favor cookies refer to my earlier posting here for the recipe

Strawberry Lemonade

7 Lemons
Lots of ice
Simple syrup
Strawberry purée (I cooked them with sugar into a concentrated syrup for my cookies and used it here too)

Mix it all, tasting and adjusting and add slices of lemon, chopped strawberries and mint for garnish.

Strawberry Balsamic glazed Meatballs:

1 lb lean beef
- 2 tbsp bread crumbs (homemade or store bought)
- 1 egg
- salt & pepper
- Splash of Worcestershire sauce
- Dijon mustard (1/2 tsp or so)

Set oven on 400. Mix your meat mixture and form small balls on a piece of parchment or in a deep dish (be sure to space them out)
Bake until browned, make sure they don't get overcooked and hard, or brown in a pan and cook through.

Strawberry glaze:

Chopped strawberries
Splash of balsamic vinegar

Add all to a pot and simmer on low for an hour or so until reduced crushing the berries with a fork, you can strain the pulp out or allow it to just cook down disintegrating.

When ready to serve heat the glaze and coat the meatballs in it. Garnish with fresh mint.


dulce de leche said...


Candace Lynn Grubbs said...

this is just lovely! i would love to go strawberry picking one day! i love them! i love the set up in your yard i wish i had a backyard

Amatullah said...

Martina, thank you!

Candace, strawberry picking is fun, maybe you could look up a local farm in your area? Some are bigger than others but it's a fun activity and they are so much fresher than the store bought ones that come from another location.
You may have some luck growing some strawberries if you like in a long pot, maybe ask for advice at your garden centre, I never had much luck but I knew people who managed to grow wild strawberries.

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Maja said...

So beautiful!