In our What’s Cooking series, we ask chefs and foodies to share their favourite at-home recipes: the easy, delicious—even occasionally healthy!—meals that they go back to again and again. On today’s menu: Ashley Kosowan’s Earl Grey Cream Puffs.
MEET THE CHEF
Together with her twin sister, Jenna Hutchinson, Ashley Kosowan is the co-owner of Jenna Rae Cakes, a boutique bakery in Winnipeg known for creating colourful macarons, cookie sandwiches, gorgeous cupcakes and more delightful treats. “When we first started the bakery over six years ago, I was responsible for baking every item on the menu,” Ashley explains. “As the years have gone by, I’ve handed off most of the baking to our highly trained and skilled team to focus on the marketing, branding and future planning for the business.” One of her biggest projects of late? Releasing their first cookbook, Jenna Rae Cakes and Sweet Treats, featuring the bakery’s recipes for the desserts that put them on the map.
The treat that’s nearest and dearest to Ashley’s heart? These Earl Grey Cream Puffs: “When we first began making these in the shop, my husband couldn’t stop eating them. Easily his favourite thing on the menu, these pastries will always have a special place in my heart,” Ashley says. Plus, “they taste like a comforting London Fog latte,” perfect for pairing with teatime or as a delightful dessert or on their own, and you can easily sub in your favourite tea blend for the Earl Grey tea to change up the recipe: “We love to use chai when the colder weather hits in the fall!”
ASHLEY KOSOWAN’S EARL GREY CREAM PUFFS
Makes 24 cream puffs
For the cream puffs
- 1/2 cup (118 mL) water
- 1/4 cup (57 g) unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup (85 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 to 3 eggs
For the Earl Grey Pastry Cream
- 5 cups (1182 mL) whole (3.25%) milk
- 1/4 cup loose leaf Earl Grey tea, more for garnish
- 12 egg yolks
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (90 g) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla bean paste
- 1/4 cup (57 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
For the powder blue fondant
- 1 cup (220 g) chopped white baking chocolate
- 4 cups (500 g) icing sugar
- 1/4 cup (59 mL) white corn syrup
- 1/4 cup (59 mL) water
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 very small drop sky blue gel food colouring
- 1 very small drop royal purple gel food colouring
For the cream puffs
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit a piping bag with a No. 2A tip.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil. Using a heat-resistant spatula or a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and continuously fold and stir the mixture until the choux is slightly yellow, shiny and begins to form a ball. You’ll know it’s ready when a skin begins to form on the bottom of the saucepan and a metal spoon inserted into the dough ball stands up straight.
3. Transfer the choux to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium-low speed until the bowl is warm to the touch, about 4 minutes. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, while the mixer is running. The dough is ready when it is shiny and keeps its shape while still looking nice and smooth after you turn off the mixer and remove the paddle. It should fall from a spoon, but only after a few seconds. If the choux doesn’t look shiny and is still stiff, whisk the third egg in a small bowl and add it little by little. If the mixture becomes too runny, you’ll need to start the recipe over again.
4. Scoop the choux into the prepared piping bag. Pipe dollops of choux into 2-in. mounds about 3 in. apart.
5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the choux have puffed up and are golden brown on top. Do not open the oven before the 25-minute mark to ensure that the choux puff up nice and big! If you take them out too early, they will deflate. Let cool to room temperature on the baking sheets. The puffs are now ready to be filled.
For the Earl Grey Pastry Cream
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk and tea to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain out the tea leaves. Return the milk to the saucepan and heat until it begins to steam and small bubbles form on the surface.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla bean paste. Slowly pour the milk into the sugar mixture, whisking constantly to temper the egg yolks until fully combined. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook on low heat, whisking constantly to prevent burning and to ensure a smooth and creamy consistency. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens and a thick ribbon of pastry cream drips from the whisk when lifted out of the saucepan. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until melted and combined.
3. Transfer the mixture to a shallow medium dish and cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin forming. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
For the powder blue fondant
1. In a heat-resistant bowl, heat the white chocolate in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the icing sugar, corn syrup, water, vanilla and food colouring until combined. Add the white chocolate and mix until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
3. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Before using, transfer the fondant to a heat-resistant container and warm it in the microwave in 20 to 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until melted and smooth.
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Transfer the Earl Grey Pastry Cream to a piping bag fitted with a No. 230 tip. Puncture the bottom of a puff with the piping tip and insert it halfway. Squeeze the piping bag to fill the puff. You’ll know it’s full once filling begins to spill out of the hole and the puff feels heavy. Place the filled cream puff on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining puffs.
3. In a deep heat-resistant bowl, heat the Powder Blue Poured Fondant in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth. Carefully dip a cream puff into the fondant until the top is covered. Hold the cream puff over the bowl and gently shake until no more fondant drips off. Return it to the prepared baking sheet and immediately sprinkle with gold leaf flakes and loose leaf tea. Repeat with the remaining cream puffs.
4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until time to serve. Serve cream puffs on the day they are made for maximum freshness and deliciousness.
Excerpted from Jenna Rae Cakes and Sweet Treats: Over 100 Recipes for the Modern Baker by Ashley Kosowan and Jenna Hutchinson. Copyright © 2020 by Ashley Nicole Kosowan and Jenna Rae Hutchinson. Published by Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
ASHLEY’S KITCHEN ESSENTIALS
What’s your favourite cookbook?
“The Canadian Living Christmas Book. I grew up baking out of it every year for the holidays and it brings back so much nostalgia for me. The Meringue Wreaths and the Sugar and Spice Cookies were my go-tos!”
What’s your favourite food scene in a movie?
“The chocolate box scene from Matilda. I wanted to try a fancy chocolate so badly!”
What’s your best kitchen habit?
“I love to pre-measure all of the ingredients in pretty little bowls. But don’t get it twisted, I’m an extremely messy baker!”
If you could eat at any restaurant in the world right now, where would it be and what would you order?
“I’m lucky that my absolute favourite meal is from a restaurant based right here in Winnipeg. The dish is Kang Karee from Sukhothai, and I order it every chance I can. Level 10 spice, always.”