Monday, August 25, 2008

Strawberry Puffs with Grand Marnier Mousseline

I was browsing through my current favourite blog which I have only recently discovered in Tartlette. I can't believe it's taken me this long to check out Helen's blog. I mean I had heard about it for ages and just never bothered to check it out. I've been missing out on numerous fantastic photos, stories and recipes. I'm slowly going through the archives but the first thing that I decided to make was the Strawberry Puffs with Grand Marnier Mousseline. My previous attempt at Choux Puffs were a delicious, if not quite asthetically perfect, treat.

Last time, the choux puffs were a little flat. I believed that at the time, I didn't dry out the batter enough before adding the add. It did look a bit runny. Instead of trying out that recipe again, I decided to give Helen's one a go. I made sure that I monitored the consistency of the batter this time so that it wasn't too runny. The batter looked good, and I piped them all into these little mounds.

However, when I baked them, they rose up nicely, but once I took them out of the oven, they deflated quite a lot and didn't look anywhere near the nice round balls that Helen got. Can a baking expert (Vida, Duncan, Sarah, anyone) tell me what I'm doing wrong? I didn't check the temperature of the oven with a thermometer so maybe it was a little under the required temperature? Or did I not dry out the mixture enough again?

Taste wise, these puffs are amazing. I never thought you could get better than a durian puff, but these are. This puff recipe tastes better than the previous one I made. It's got a nicer more buttery flavour and is also lighter. The Grand Marnier cream with the strawberries is genius. The cream is fantastic on its own, but combined with the crisp flavours of the strawberry, it is indeed "Strawberry Shortcake Crack". Everyone at work chomped these down so quickly that those who were late got none. I ate four myself, such is their tastiness. I must make more soon. I just want to perfect them so they are more puffier. Let me know if you have any idea what I am doing wrong.

Strawberry Puffs with Grand Marnier Mousseline
Makes about 12-16 depending on the size

For the Choux:
85 g all purpose flour
75ml water
75 ml milk
65 g butter
3 eggs
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
Pearl Sugar

1. Sift the flour and set aside.

2. Heat the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt to a full rolling boil, so that the fat is not just floating on the top but is dispersed throughout the liquid. Stir the flour into the liquid with a heavy wooden spoon, adding it as fast as it can be absorbed. Avoid adding it all at once or it will form clumps. Cook, stirring constantly and breaking up the lumps if necessary, by pressing them against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan, about 2-3 minutes.

3. Transfer the dough to a mixer bowl. Let the paste cool slightly so that the eggs will not cook when they are added. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, using the paddle attachment on low or medium speed. The dough should have the consistency of thick mayonnaise. Pipe big rounds on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, sprinkle them with pearl sugar and bake at 175C for 15 minutes.

4. Remove from the oven and let cool. Split the choux in half.

For the Grand Marnier Mousseline:
300ml milk
zest of one orange
3 egg yolks
120g sugar
25 g cornstarch
115 g butter, cut into small chunks
30ml Grand Marnier
1 tsp gelatin and 1 tbsp water
120ml heavy cream
1-2 cups of fresh strawberries, sliced

1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let stand until ready to incorporate into the pastry cream.

2. Bring the milk to a boil with the orange zest.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until pale. Slowly pour the milk over it. Add a small amount of milk to temper the eggs and make sure all your ingredients incorporate smoothly and them continue to add the rest of the milk.

4. Return the whole thing over medium heat and cook until thick for about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the butter and the Grand Marnier.

5. In a microwave, dissolve the gelatin for 15 seconds. Quickly mix into the pastry cream. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (make it touch the cream so it does not let a skin form on top) and refrigerate until cold.

6. Whip the cream to stiff peaks and gently fold it in the pastry cream. Pour into a piping bag and divide among the choux. Arrange some strawberry slices over the cream and put the hats back on.


  1. Hi there! I would venture that it migt be coming from your piping. Hold the bag at a 45 degree angle and just drop one round on the sheet. Piping into a circle makes you compress the dough as you pipe. The puffs puff (ahaha) thanks to pocket formed in the dough that let steam out while baking, so by pressing down your dough on the sheet instead of lifting it up as you pipe gets rid of those pockets and then rise.
    Hope this helps. Feel free to ask more!

  2. Hey there, I too also had the same problem with my puffs. I tried to make chocolate eclairs for the boyfriend and found that my choix puff deflated when I took them out of the oven. I suspected that it had something to do with the piping but wasn't so sure. I just read tartelette's advice and it all makes sense.

    I'm sure that your puffs tasted just as nice as they looked anyway! Keep up the good work, by the way.

  3. How did you get the bird to poop in such a pattern?

  4. Hi Thanh,

    Those look lovely. Tartlette's great, isn't it!! I love her photos.

    I don't think I can top Tartlette's advice, hehe, but you might want to prick the puffs with a pin or small skewer as soon as they're out of the oven? Nigella says this lets the steam escape and stops them from deflating. I think yours look pretty delicious regardless!

    xox Sarah

  5. Helen, thanks so much for your advice. I will give this a try the next time I make these puffs again.

    Libby, you were smarter than me and suspected the piping. That would have been the last thing I would have suspected. I thought it was the oven temp. Well now we both know what to do so lets try it. Let me know how you do when you next try this new piping technique.

    Oblivion, it's a well trained bird.

    Sarah, I love her blog, it's my current favourite. The photos and recipes are stunning.

    I'll try out the pin trick on half the batch and without on the other half and see which works even better. Regardless of the looks, the puffs tasted amazing.

  6. Wow, wish I had one of these, they look lovely.

    I also wish I had the same energy to get into the kitchen as you! Lately I have none :( which is a shame, cos I love trying out new recipes, like you do.

    But these... wow. I'm making a list of things to make for my mum when I host her for christmas, and I think these will be on that list. I'm cruising over to Tartlette now for more :)

  7. Maffy, these puffs are amazingly delicious. You should definitely give this a go.

    I'm finding that I enjoy baking more and more now. I understand that if you have a tough day, you probably don't want to bake. I try to put aside one night after work each week to make something.

    I too have to browse through Tartlette's archives. So many fantastic photos and recipes to try.

  8. I'm a little bit sceptical about piping being the villain here (but happy to be proven wrong). As Thanh says the dough rose in the oven correctly, I feel the most likely probs are too damp a dough, and/or inadequate drying after cooking. As Sarah says, there's some advice that puffs need to be pierced to let steam escape before they deflate. Other authors recommend drying the puffs in the oven by turning it off when the puffs are brown and letting them sit in the residual heat.

    I can't quite tell how small your puffs were, Thanh, but the photos do look a bit as though they were bigger than Helen's. The bigger the choux pastry shape, the more you have to try to dry them before they have a chance to deflate.

  9. Back to the Violet essence, have you tried health food shops? Bach makes a violet water as a sort of rescue remedy - obviously it's edible and so it might work... violet is so strong a flavour that water might work as well as the essence would... Vida x

  10. For what it's worth I agree with Duncan, I don't believe it's the piping at all - more the consistency and definately drying them out in the oven helps, maybe you are not cooking them long enough so they are not ready and fall... they need a little more strengthening, more crispening up. V x

  11. the organic house website has violet water (a remedy for loneliness!!!) for $17.95 for 10ml I think and it includes GST. There my work is done!! Vida x

  12. Vida, thank you for all your suggestions about the violet, I will follow up those leads you mentioned.

    As for the puffs, after more Googling and research, I too believe it isn't about how I piped it as I have asked others who also did swirly piped blobs and it worked well. I think it does need to be cooked a bit longer and like you said, it will crisp a bit more and hold it's shape.

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