Bat Cream Puffs with a Concord Grape and Star Anise Jam Pastry Cream

HALLOWEEEENNNNN!!!! IS around the corner! 🙂 It is that time of the year for candies, sweets, treats and all the fun stuff that kids and adults alike love! I have to watch the candy intake ofcourse! But I am not too strict cause otherwise my kiddos will do stuff behind our backs! This year we decorated the outside door with some decorations! We went to the dollar store that has so many fun ideas to play around with, and be creative with. We put up some spider webs and giant spiders, and also some kitties as well. My daughter painted a couple of mini pumpkins and put them outside as well. My son carved a huge pumpkin which is sitting outside too :). They usually have a Harvest Festival at school, which becomes a safe haven for the kids to go trick-o-treating and there are game booths organized by the elementary school as well, which makes it fun for the kids. There is a donut eating contest too which is hilarious, cause they have mini donuts hung from a rod, and the kids get one minute to eat the donuts with their hands tied behind their backs :). It is a lot of fun to watch the kids trying to get a mouthful of those donuts, especially the little ones lol.

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We make sweet treats every year together. 2 years ago, we made Pumpkin Ghost Madeleines and last year we made these Spider Macarons with a Pumpkin Cardmom buttercream frosting and they turned out really cute! I have been completely over the moon about the Hotel Translyvania Movies. Right from the absolutely fun characters to the story line, to the direction, editing, the way the movie is made, ALL OF IT! WE are all HUGE fans of this movie! One of my favorite characters is ofcourse the over-protective dad Mr Dracula, who is sooo boisterous and so protective of his daughter, it brought tears to my eyes! And my second favorite character is Mavis – sweet Mavis! Right from when she was a baby to a little girl, to a grown lady! Her demeanor, her sweet, kind yet assertive nature is wonderful to see and learn something from! If you have seen the movies, you will know exactly what I am talking about :).  So my sweet treats this year are dedicated to Bat Mavis!

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I made the cream puffs with a choux pastry flavored with star anise, and filled it with a Concord Grape and Star Anise Jam Pastry Cream. We used white fondant, and colored it with two colors:  black and blue. Black fondant for the eyes, ears and wings, and blue fondant for the eyes as well.  I use Americolor Gel colors, to color the fondant, and it works perfectly well. I made the bat wing template myself on a parchment paper, and traced it on the rolled out fondant with an exacto knife to get clean edges. For the big eyes, I used different sized pastry tips to get the variants in circle diameter – that’s the engineer in me. I glued the different circles with a dab of water and it stuck pretty well!  For the last dab of white inside the eye, I used the Ateco 0 tip end to create the dot from the white fondant and dabbed it inside the eye.

 

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For the ears, I cut out a template from parchment paper, and used it to cut out black fondant. My kids helped me with all the fondant shapes! They had so much fun with it 🙂 I laid it flat on a baking tray with parchment paper and let it dry for a day.

 

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For the mouth, Mavis bangs, and the eyebrows, I used black icing that I made using powdered sugar, black color and a few drops of water. You can find the recipe in the Snowman Macarons here. For the nose, I simply used heart sprinkles that I already had. For the fangs, I used white sprinkles on each cream puff.

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The craquelin or the cookie, on top of each cream puffs gives the cream puff an even bake, and gives it that cracked texture. I did use color in it, but the color became dull in the oven, so I would advise against using color in the craquelin :). If anyone has better suggestions, please let me know ! Cut the cream puff in half, and fill it with some pastry cream. Decorate the top of the cream puff with the eyes, nose, mouth, eyebrows, hair. Put the bat wings and ears, gently resting on top of the pastry cream. Fill it again with more pastry cream, and set the top half of the puff on top. Do the same with the remaining cream puffs. Put the fangs in the end on the mouth.

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These cream puffs turned out super MAVISSY CUTE and I was really happy with them – in decoration AND in taste! They were light, airy, and melt in your mouth delicious! They got over pretty fast! The kids were super thrilled with the end result, and they are already thinking of what to make for next year! 🙂

 

Have a happy and safe Halloween my friends!

 

BOOOO!!!!

XO

Amisha

 

Bat Cream Puffs with a Concord Grape Jam Pastry Cream

Ingredients

  • Concord Grape and Star Anise Jam:
  • About 4 8 oz jars of jam
  • 2 lbs concord grapes, washed
  • 1 ¼ lbs granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ oz fresh lemon juice
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 oz of MCP pectin
  • Pastry Cream:
  • Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
  • 1 ¾ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup grape jam, that has been strained through a fine-medium sieve to extract all the smooth pulp.
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup strained concord grape and star anise jam
  • Pate de Choux:
  • Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
  • About 40 cream puffs
  • 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp of freshly ground star anise
  • 1 cup water
  • 9 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • 5 large eggs(1 cup approx.)
  • Cookies for cream puffs
  • Cookies for cream puffs(Craquelin):
  • Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
  • Makes about 50 cookies
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • purple color

Instructions

  1. Concord Grape and Star Anise Jam:
  2. Separate the grape skins from the pulp and grape juice into 2 separate bowls. Make sure to collect all the juice as well, into the pulp bowl. This takes a long time but the process is to de-seed the grapes but still hold onto the gorgeous skin. Squeeze the grapes between your finger and thumb into the bowl and it can expedite the process.
  3. Add a couple of metal spoons into the freezer, set on a plate.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Wash your jars, and sterilize them by placing the washed jars and lids on a small baking tray, into the oven.
  5. In a large non-reactive saucepan or cast iron pan, add in the grape pulp and juice, on medium-high heat. Cover the pan and let it cook for about 3-4 minutes. Switch the heat off. Use a potato masher to mash the grapes completely. Press it through a medium sieve to remove the seeds.
  6. In a small bowl, add in the sugar, pectin, and mix. Add in the lemon juice, grape pulp/juice and grape skin. Mix it all. Now add it back into the large pan and on high heat let the mixture reach a boil stage. Now mix with a rubber spatula at this stage and clean the sides. Let it boil for 15 minutes, it will foam and rise in level with bubbles.
  7. Switch off the gas, and stir the jam around. The bubbles will subside. If there is white foam, gently scrap it off with a large spoon. Let it rest for 3-4 minutes. Now to do the spoon test. Add in some jam onto the metal spoon from the freezer and set it back. Check after 3 minutes. If the jam does not fall off the spoon immediately, and is gradual, you know your jam is set.
  8. Remove the jars from the oven. Use a 2 cup measuring cup, to use as a pourer, to pour the hot jam into the jars. Be careful during this process of pouring. Pour till ¼ inch is left on the top. Clean any mess/drippings with a damp clean paper towel. Tightly put the lid back on. Put the jars on the baking tray, back into the oven for another 12 minutes.
  9. Switch off the oven and remove the tray with the jars. Let it set overnight. Your jar is ready to be indulged!
  10. CONCORD GRAPE and STAR ANISE JAM PASTRY CREAM:
  11. Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
  12. Setup an ice bath. Place a medium bowl in ice water and set a fine mesh strainer over the bowl.
  13. Strain 1/3 cup of the jam through a fine mess strainer, to discard all the skin, if you want a smooth pastry cream. Otherwise you can mix the jam as is into the pastry cream.
  14. On medium to low heat, in a small saucepan, add the milk, and warm till it reaches about 170 degrees F for about 5 minutes. Let the mixture sit.
  15. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg yolks. Whisk fast till the egg yolks are slightly frothy. Add in the granulated sugar. Whisk for about 3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and thick. When the whisk is lifted, the mixture should form a slowly dissolving ribbon.
  16. Reduce the speed to low, and add the all purpose flour and mix for 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the mixer running on the lowest speed, slowly pour in the milk. Scrap the bowl again and mix on low speed for another minute or until combined.
  17. Pour the mixture into a large saucepan, set over medium heat, and stir gently until it begins to thicken. Switch to a whisk and whisk as the cream comes to a simmer. Once you see the bubbles breaking the surface, cook for about 5 minutes longer, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream has thickened. It should be viscous in consistency and the pour should be very slow.
  18. Pour the pastry cream through the strainer, pressing gently on it to push the thickened cream through. Whisk for about 1 minute to cool slightly, then whisk in the butter. Now add in the vanilla extract and and whisk again to combine. Now add in the jam and whisk well to combine. You could add a a bit of purple color if desired.
  19. Pour into a covered container and press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for atleast two hours.
  20. When ready to use, transfer to a bowl and stir gently until it has a creamy consistency.
  21. Fill a pastry bag with a star tip(3/4 inch star tip), to fill the insides of the choux puff if cut in half. Otherwise fill a pastry bag with a plain ¼ inch tip to fill it from the bottom of the cream puff. I use a bench scraper to scrap the pastry cream all the way to the bottom of the bag.
  22. Cookies(Craquelin):
  23. Place the brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the all purpose flour and almond flour. Whisk to combine.
  24. Fit the mixer with a paddle attachment and mix on low to combine the dry ingredients. Add the butter and let it mix on the lowest setting to begin incorporating and breaking up the butter. Increase the speed to low and mix for about 3 minutes, until the butter is broken up and completely incorporated into the dry mixture. The mixture will come together but it will be crumbly, not a uniform lump.
  25. Place the dough on a parchment paper, and gather it together to form a flattened disk. Add another parchment paper on top, and start with a rolling pin pressing it gently, and flattening it out, across the surface of the parchment paper. It should be 1/16 inch thick eventually. Make sure to roll it out evenly. Place it on the bake of a baking sheet and freeze it until required.
  26. Cut and bake the cookies on top of the cream puffs.
  27. PATE A CHOUX:
  28. Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
  29. Combine the water, butter and salt in a medium saucepan, place over medium heat, and stir as the butter melts. Once the butter has melted, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, then remove the pan from the heat and, with a wooden spoon, stir in all of the flour. Continue to stir for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture has a paste-like consistency, then place over medium heat and stir rapidly for 1 or 2 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan is clean; the dough should be glossy and smooth but not dry.
  30. Immediately transfer the dough to the mixer bowl and mix on low for about 30 seconds to release some of the moisture. Slowly begin adding the eggs about 3 tbsp at a time, beating until each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next one. Continue adding the eggs, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl when pulled with the paddle but then grabs back on again.
  31. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 15 seconds to be sure all of the eggs are incorporated. Stop the mixer. When the paddle is lifted, the dough should form a bird’s beak – it should hold its shape and turn down over itself but not break off.
  32. Use a 1 inch round tip in the pastry bag to pipe the puffs. Transfer the dough to a pastry bag, use a bench scraper to scrap the dough all the way to the bottom and refrigerate until cold for half an hour before using to pipe the puffs.
  33. Using silicone mats with a macaron template, or a parchment paper with 1 ½ inch round circles as a template under a plain silicone mat, on a baking tray, to pipe round cream puffs about 1 ½ inches apart. If they have a pointed tip, use a dab of water on a finger to tame it down to a dome. (You will need atleast 3-4 baking trays for the puffs)
  34. Now freeze the puffs for about 4 hours, or until firm enough to be removed from the mat easily. The puffs can be frozen to upto a month.
  35. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  36. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Cut out 1 ½ inch of the cookies and set one on top of each puff. Place the pans in the oven and let it bake and rise for 15 minutes.
  37. Lower the temperature to 375, and bake for about 15-17 minutes.
  38. Lower the temperature to 300, and bake for about 15 minutes to remove any moisture from the puff, so that they do not deflate later. Remove from the oven. The puffs are light and feel hollow. Break one open if necessary, the center should be completely cookied.
  39. Set the puffs on a cooling rack and let it cool completely before filling.
  40. Poke a hole at the bottom of each cream puff with a ¼ inch plain tip. Use a pastry bag with pastry cream and fill each puff with gentle pressure. Dust with powdered sugar.
  41. Cream puffs are best eaten the same day.
  42. TIPS and TRICKS:
  43. 1. Read the recipe a few times, to understand the process, understand the ingredients, and understand the steps involved.
  44. 2. Get all the ingredients/pots/pans/equipment required ready, so that you are not scrambling during the process to find equipment.
  45. 3. Make sure the ingredients are accurately measured, hence reading the recipe is important AGAIN 🙂
  46. 4. Oven temperature while making the cream puffs is important. You want to blast it in the beginning at 425, to puff them up, then you lower the temperature to 375 to cook them from the inside, and then you again lower the temperature to 300 to dry them out and remove the moisture from them, so that they do not deflate once they are sitting out.
  47. 5. When you remove the puffs from the oven, wait for a few minutes and you can break one apart to see the hollow cavity inside. If it is not hollow that means it did not cook properly.
  48. 6. You could use sweetened whipped cream to fill the cream puffs too. You could slice the top off and pipe a swirl of whipped cream inside the puff.
  49. 7. The cream puffs are best eaten fresh within a couple of hours Or the same day itself.
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