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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chocolate Eggnog Cream Puffs

cream puffs
Chocolate Eggnog Cream Puffs
One of the sponsors of the St. Louis Food Media Forum that I attended in August was Safest Choice Eggs. I was about twelve weeks pregnant at the time and already mourning the temporary hiatus of runny egg yolks. Needless to say, I was thrilled to discover that Safest Choice Eggs are pasteurized, totally eliminating the risk of salmonella, meaning I could go crazy with egg yolks again. Since then, I've stocked up on Safest Choice Eggs and resumed my fried egg habit, not to mention my raw cookie dough eating! (To be fair, I'm totally okay with eating the occasional non-pasteurized runny egg and don't stress about it too much in restaurants, but it's totally a personal decision for all pregnant women out there!).
Pin Iteggnog cream puffs
Today we're using Safest Choice Eggs in another form: cream puffs and pastry cream! Again, the nice thing about these eggs is not having to worry about cross contamination or whether the eggs are undercooked...perfect in recipes like pastry cream! In light of the upcoming holiday, I went eggnog themed with these cream puffs.
cream puffs
I'm never sure whether I'm an eggnog fan or not. I like the idea of it and it contains things I love (heck, it's basically spiced ice cream in liquid form)...but I prefer it in small doses. Thus, eggnog pastry cream was perfect for me! You get just enough of the eggnog without feeling totally weighed down by all that sugar and spice and cream. 
eggnog cream puffs
I've made cream puffs before, so I had the basic process down, but decided to change things up and make chocolate cream puff shells this time around. The shells don't have any sugar in them, making them an ideal blank (chocolate) canvas for the sweetened eggnog pastry cream. Although you might be familiar with the giant overwhelming cream puffs, I stuck to bite-sized ones making them perfect for a Christmas party where you want to try all the desserts on the spread!

cream puffs
You can make the recipe components ahead of time (shells one day ahead of time, pastry cream three days ahead of time), just don't assemble until the day you plan to serve for the freshest flavor! Cookies and fudge are good and fun this time of year, but change things up this season with these miniature cream puffs that scream holiday!

Kitchen PLAY is hosting a giveaway with Safest Choice eggs for a holiday baking pack, including Sur La Table baking sheets, mixing bowls, and spatulas, a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, twelve DOZEN eggs, and more ($150 value!). Enter on Facebook here!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Covered S'Mores on a Stick and Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Enchiladas
Two Years Ago: Peanut Butter M&M Cookies and Curried Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
Three Years Ago: Whole Wheat Rosemary Bread and Mushroom and Goat Cheese Crostini
Four Years Ago: Pear and Arugula Salad and Turkey and Squash Risotto

Chocolate Eggnog Cream Puffs
cream puff shell recipe from Taste of Home; eggnog pastry cream from The Seattle Times

for the cream puff shells:
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp dark chocolate cocoa powder
4 eggs

for the eggnog pastry cream:
1 cup eggnog
1 cup whole milk
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
heaping 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. To make the cream puff shells, bring water, butter, and salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cocoa powder and stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove mixture from heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating by hand after each addition until mixture is smooth and shiny.
2. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough three inches apart onto greased or baking mat/parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 400F for 30-35 minutes, or until set and browned. Allow to cool on wire racks, slicing each in half horizontally to allow steam to escape. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge overnight if not filling that day. (Do not make more than one day ahead of time)
3. To make the eggnog pastry cream, bring eggnog and milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, flour, cornstarch, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.
4. Temper the egg mixture by slowly whisking in 1/2 of the heated eggnog mixture, then whisking the tempered egg mixture back into the eggnog mixture in the saucepan. Over medium-low to medium heat, bring the mixture to a low boil, whisking constantly, for about 4-6 minutes total, until mixture thickens (do not overcook!).
5. Strain the pastry cream through a fine sieve into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface (this prevents a skin from forming). Allow to cool to room temperature before refrigerating for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days in advance.
6. To assemble cream puffs, spoon a tablespoon of eggnog pastry cream onto one half of the cream puff shell. Top with second half of shell. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or chill for up to 4 hours (best served the same day they're made).

Note: This post is sponsored by Safest Choice Eggs. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.