Almond-Cream Puff Ring
Total TimePrep: 40 min. Bake: 40 min. + cooling
I made this for Christmas, and it was a big hit! Out of three desserts, this was the favorite hands down. Even the idea of it was very appealing before the guests even tried it. I chose it because of the low sugar content, and I used sugar free vanilla pudding to accommodate people with low sugar tolerance. For the glaze I used pure maple syrup instead of light corn syrup (because it's what I had on hand). It was a little too thick to drizzle, so I added a little more milk, which worked out fine. I followed the suggestion to use parchment paper instead of foil, which worked out great, but twice the baked puffs almost slid off the cookie sheet. Maybe placing the dough directly on a greased, non-stick cookie sheet would work just as well. My blobs were not close enough together to attach to each other while baking, so I just placed them in a ring formation on a big plate. They're probably easier to serve that way, anyway. I placed a bowl with sugared strawberries in the center of the ring, using coconut sugar instead of refined sugar. It was all very presentable and tasty.
UPDATE: Made it a second time; this time I used greased parchment paper. NO STICKING! Perfect!I made this for our weekly teatime; it was delicious and looked absolutely incredible. Since it looks very elaborate, I’ll provide an extensive review for anyone a little reluctant to try this one. We served it with sugared strawberries, and it was delightful, refreshing and light; everything from the pastry, to the filling to the glaze tasted and looked perfect and authentic. The presentation really wowed everyone - our guest thought we were expecting someone momentous!When you make the dough in the saucepan: instead of cooling for 5 minutes, I placed it in a metal bowl and stuck it in the fridge until it was pretty cool so I didn’t risk scrambling the eggs (it can stay piping hot for a very long time and may have to be stirred up a little so the central parts of the dough cool too!).Make sure the foil is very, very well-greased; otherwise, maybe try greased parchment paper? My puffs stuck to the foil and it was very difficult to remove – impossible to do so without ripping a puff or two, but no harm done. Patience required.Use all of the dough; the single ring will puff up hugely, so just try to get a ring of fairly uniform blobs. They’ll be glorious cream puffs in no time. Mine took about 30-40 minutes and were golden brown and fairly hard to the touch.Initially, I used a small paring knife to make the slits and begin slicing the ring in half; I switched over to a long, dependable serrated blade so that I could make sure the puffs were getting sliced through-and-through evenly – I don’t recommend a cake leveler. This stage was fairly easy with some patience. Make sure your puffs are sliced all the way through before removing the top, which I recommended doing by gradually slipping another rack or plate of some kind between the top and bottom and shifting the top over onto the server carefully.Very gingerly rake the fork across the exposed fluffy insides of the puffs such that the firmness of the tougher skin of the puffs will signal you before you can remove too much. Don’t stress this stage, just get the fluffiest, excessive bits out. To do the same with the top, I recommend sandwiching two racks or plates against the top layer and flipping the whole thing at once, so you can get to the fluffy internal underside of the top layer. Don’t worry if the puffs separate by accident, you can still form a ring and it will still look beautiful.When you make the glaze, I recommend slowly heating the milk you’re going to use so that the glaze doesn’t toughen up; I had this problem. It got all clumpy and thick on me. I microwaved some milk and added it, whisking it up until it was very dark, very shiny and very smooth/fluid. Perfect for drizzling!I hope you try this recipe, because it really isn't as hard as it may seem and it's well worth the effort - a real showstopper!
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