I can't help it, I just love playing with food. Specially when the end result is a melt in your mouth piece of heaven. These swans are a classic of the pastry world, yet they are fairly simple to make. And those crabs... well...if you know me you could guess I wouldn't be happy with just the swans :D Do I have to mention I had tons of fun with this month's DB's challenge?
|Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!|
A couple of years ago we played with Pâte à Choux at the Daring Bakers to make Pièce Montée (Croquembouche) and it shows how versatile this pastry can be.
FOR THE SAWNS (Sweet)
Start by preparing the filling, as it has to chill before using. I chose the filling suggested by our hostess Kat, which is a sort of pastry cream with some additional whipped cream to make it light and delicious. You can use just any filling that suits your fancy. Even plain Chantilly can be used with excellent results.
1 tbsp (7g) unflavored gelatin
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 large egg yolks
1 cup (240 ml) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) heavy (whipping) cream (about 35% butterfat)
In a medium saucepan combine gelatin, flour, and sugar. Mix very well.
In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks until they begin to turn pale. Add milk and whisk to combine. Pour this mixture into the pan with dry ingredients.
Cook over low heat stirring constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
Remove from heat, add vanilla extract and transfer to a heat resistant glass bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap, allowing it to touch the mixture so to avoid forming a skin.
Allow to cool completely. Refrigerate until it thickens, but not so long that it sets.
Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form.
Remove vanilla creme from the fridge and fold into the cream.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
PÂTE À CHOUX
(Recipe adapted from this VIDEO by BRUNO ALBOUZE, an excellent tutorial for making the swans, totally worth watching! His Videos are short, objective, professionally made and full of detailed information.)
NOTE: Pâte à Choux does not store well and should be made on the day you intend to serve it. Filling should be applied as close as possible to the time of serving.
125g whole milk
125g butter (unsalted)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
150 g all purpose flour
250g eggs (4 or 5)
Boil water, milk, butter, salt and sugar.
Turn off the heat add sifted flour, all at once, and stir vigorously until well combined.
Return to stove over high heat and stir for one more minute.
Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool until lukewarm before adding the eggs (about 15 min.)
Meanwhile, beat eggs slightly.
Preheat oven to 190º C (375º F)
Add eggs in batches, stirring very well until well incorporated before
adding another batch. It will look like it will never blend together, but don't worry, it will. It will look like this...
Then like this...
... and finally like this
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a wide plain or star tip for the bodies and a narrow plain tip for the necks (if you don't have a pastry bag nor a tip, just use a ziplock bag with a small hole for the necks and a wider one for the bodies.
Pipe necks, heads, and bodies of swans.
Bake necks first, watch closely as they will bake in 8 to 10 minutes and will burn easily.
Just before baking the bodies, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Bake bodies for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
If your puffs are not brown enough, after you remove them from the oven they will collapse, so make sure to bake them until they are really golden.
Allow parts to cool completely on a cooling rack.
TO ASSEMBLE THE SWANS
Cut off the top of the body using a serrated knife.
Then cut the top part in half to form the wings.
Spoon or pipe the filling onto the bottom part.
Insert neck on the wider end and stick wings on the sides.
You may want to serve your swans in a lake of chocolate sauce or ganache...
Or plain... they are delicious either way.
FOR THE CRAB (Savory)
Use the same Pâte à Choux recipe omitting the sugar.
I used Tuna Mousse with Greek Yogurt from my last post, but you can use other fillings of your choice, including crab :o)
Unfortunately, I don't have photos of the process of shaping the crabs, but all you have to do is pipe curved legs and try to form the claws. For the bodies I piped regular round choux, cut them in half then sandwiched with the filling. Finally, I inserted the legs in the body and the upper pair was inserted in the claws. For the eyes, two slices of olives.
Many thanks to Kat for the fun challenge and for being such a lovely hostess!
Visit THE DARING KITCHEN to see the amazing creations of the participants where you can also find the original recipes and guidelines for this challenge.