This month I was fortunate to spend a few days in New York and had lunch with good friends at AQ KAFE near Columbus Circle. It essentially serves good food quickly and offers a variety of interesting breakfast pastries. We had a good laugh about a pastry called “A Slap in the Face” and were interested in the “Berliner”, but the most delicious was the “Maria Bun.” Here for you is my rendition of a raspberry filled cream puff to make for Christmas morning. I recommend making the pastry and filling the night before and putting them together on Christmas morning. They are messy to eat but really yummy!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter a cookie or half sheet pan.
To make the dough, cut the butter into pieces and place in a heavy bottom pan with the water and salt. Carefully, bring the water to a boil while the butter melts. Raise the heat to a rapid boil; turn off the heat; and toss in the flour all at once. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mass of dough comes together and dries slightly from the heat of the pan. Let cool. Put the dough in the bowl of an electric mixer, and with the paddle, beat in one egg at a time. Beat until the dough becomes very sticky. With a tablespoon, make twelve large spoonfuls of dough on the baking sheet. (at this point you can sprinkle the puffs with a mixture of butter and brown sugar—I did not do this for the photo.) Place the pan in the preheated oven and turn the temperature up to 425 degrees. They are done when the puffs are very brown, after about 30 minutes. At this point remove the pan from the oven; make a hole in each puff with a small knife; and return the pan to the turned-off oven to dry the puffs, for about 10 minutes.
To make the filling, heat the milk in a heavy saucepan large enough to hold the pastry cream. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until mixed. Mix in the cornstarch and flour; then, pour in some of the hot milk. Return all the mixture to the pan with the milk and stir with a whisk over medium-high heat. All at once, this mixture will start to thicken; this is when you should beat like crazy to prevent lumping. Let boil about 3 minutes to cook the flour, being careful not to scorch the bottom of the pan. Spread the pastry cream on a ceramic plate to cool and cover with wax paper. Before using the pastry cream, be sure to whisk it to make it smooth again. (If you would like a lighter pastry cream, in a separate bowl whip 1/2 cup heavy cream until soft peaks, and fold it into the pastry cream.)
To assemble, cut each cream puff half with a serrated knife, into each put a large spoonful of the pastry cream, and then a spoonful of raspberry preserves, replace the top. And serve with plenty of napkins.