Choux au craquelin with Rhubarb Custard and Rhubarb Compote

What a fancy name – choux au craquelin! But what does it mean. Well…– imagine a choux pastry (cream puff), topped with a crunchy topping, that’s a choux au craquelin. It does sound good, and believe me,they do taste good. So if you are a choux pastry fan

( e.g. profiteroles, eclairs, cream puff ) well this is the next stage.

This is my first attempt at a Choux au craquelin. It appealed because my family are great profiterole fans, also craquelin seemed to add to the appearance and the texture of the choux pastry recipe.

The craquelin is a dough made with softened butter, brown sugar and flour. It is chilled and then cut into thin discs to place on top of the choux to bake together. You can add different colorings and flavorings to the craquelin to create various memorable cream puffs. You can also choose various fillings, from pastry cream to simply chantilly cream, ice cream, fruits or anything else you might like best.
Now, just as I had decided to give these little beauties a go my neighbour turned up at my door with a bunch of Rhubarb from his allotment. So there and then I decided on a Rhubarb Custard for the filling.

First I had to make the craquelin

Craquelin

This recipe makes about 25 puffs
This makes enough dough to cover approximately 25 cream puffs. You can either cut the recipe in half, or wrap the rest of the dough and freeze it to use on a future batch of cream puffs. (The dough will keep for up to two months in the freezer.)
It’s easiest to roll out between two pieces of parchment paper but you can use plastic wrap if that’s all you have available.

Find a cookie cutter that’s about the same size as the diameter of the unbaked puffs, and use that to cut circles to place on top of the dough before baking them off in the oven.
The puffs may expand a bit more than normal, so you should pipe them a little more widely spaced apart than you might usually do.

Ingredients
85g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
100g  packed light brown sugar
100g all-purpose flour

Method

Pre heat oven to Gas 7, Electric 220C
1. In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon, then add the flour and continue to mix the dough until it’s smooth. (You can also use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.)
2. Put the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll the dough until it’s about 13-inches (33cm) round. Slide the dough on a baking sheet and freeze the dough.
3. Make your cream puffs, and after they are piped onto a baking sheet, remove the dough from the freezer and let it stand a minute or so, until it’s defrosted just enough to cut. Using a round cookie cutter about the same diameter of the puffs, cut out circles of the dough and set them on top of the puffs. Bake the cream puffs as indicated by the recipe, until the tops are nicely browned.

Choux Buns

125g butter,cut into pieces

150g plain flour

4 large eggs, beaten

300ml water

Method

Put water and pieces of butter together in a saucepan, and melt the butter over a gentle heat. While it’s melting sieve the flour onto a piece of greaseproof paper,or a small bowl. Raise the temperature of the liquid in the pan and as soon as it comes to the boil remove from the heat and as fast as possible add the flour. Beat hard with a wooden spoon until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Switch from a wooden spoon to an electric mixer and add the beaten eggs a bit at a time. The mixture should end up smooth and glossy.

having got your glossy liquid in the pan, grease a baking sheet lightly, with butter then run it under cold water, shaking off any excess – you don’t want the choux buns sitting in a puddle. The steam from the dampened baking sheet helps the buns rise. I also put a small bowl of water in the base of the oven, I find this also helps with the rise.

Fill a piping bag with your mixture and pipe rounds onto your baking sheet.( If you haven’t got a piping bag use a dessert spoon and spoon dollops of the mix onto the pastry sheet.

Place the circles of the Craquelin on the top of the buns and bake until risen and firm about 25-30 mins.

Cool then fill with your choice of filling. If you want to try the Rhubarb Custard the recipe is below.

Cooking your Rhubarb 

Rhubarb should always be sweetened using demerara sugar, half a cup per 500g and lemon or orange juice added, 4 tablespoons per 500gms Microwave until desired texture is reached. Using the microwave prevents the fruit breaking up too much. It can then be frozen for out of season use. If desired, cinnamon, vanilla or ginger may be added, in small quantities, to change / enhance the taste.

Rhubarb Custard
This custard is based on a creme patisserie recipe as it has to be thick to hold its own shape, which is good news if you hate making custard for fear of making it curdle, this way you have to boil it…just never stop whisking it until you’re done.
The recipe I have here does  hold its shape to be spooned on to the choux without dribbling off it. I would however, add the Rhubarb a spoonful at a time, stop if you think it is becoming too runny.
* 3 egg yolks
* 77 grams sugar
* 30 grams plain flour
* 150ml single cream
* 50ml of full fat milk (or at least semi-fat)
* half teaspoon of vanilla paste or scrape seeds from a vanilla pod
* icing sugar for dusting the Choux, optional

Method
Put the cream and milk in a pan, add the vanilla and bring it to the boil.  In the meantime whisk the sugar and yolks in a large bowl for a few seconds, then add the flour in one go and whisk it in well.
Once the cream is up to boiling point add it in a stream to the yolk mixture whilst whisking the mixture continuously.  Pour the mixture back into the pan on a low/medium heat and keep whisking all the time.  When the mixture comes to boiling point it will thicken but keep whisking for another one to two minutes, at this point put it on a low heat.
It should be really be thick because adding the rhubarb is going to thin it down but you want to make sure when it’s cold it’s thick enough to hold its shape on the choux.  Mix it with the rhubarb and store in the fridge until needed.

 

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