Cream Puffs and the Queen of Spain

And after two days, I’m back. I never thought I’d be taking this blogging seriously since I have started a handful, but never get updated. So I’ll try my best in maintaining this blog (for the sake of those patient followers who I think reads my posts…  I think.).

Remember when I told you I will be taking a class on baking? Well, it pushed through. The class I took was called “Cream Puff Dreams (Pâte à Choux Desserts)“. Based on the terms used, it is a french dessert which literally means cabbage paste (which I think you probably know what pâte à choux means since you are either a baker, or, have googled it before opening this post). I love cream puffs! Which is why I took this class. I’d like to learn the techniques used and how to maintain the puff crisp and how to make the pastry cream. To give you an idea of what we did in the class, here is the class description:

Learn to make magical desserts with this very French pastry, and be the cream of the baking crop and make big money. We’ll be making flavored Cream Puffs, Coffee Swan Puffs, Espresso Profiteroles with Frozen Cinnamon Souffle, Savory Puffs with smoked salmon mousse, Paris Brest, Crullers with Rum Glaze, and Croquembouche with Nougatine.

Heny Sison Culinary School

He worked as the Executive Chef of Mezze Restaurant and Bar in Greenbelt 5.

There you go. So enough with that. I know you want to see what we did. And yes, I HAD A LOT OF FUN! Although this is not a workshop, meaning the chef is the one making this, he made the class pretty instructional. So the class was handled by Chef Juan Carlo Estagle, an alumnus of the Heny Sison Culinary School. It’s funny how he specializes in baking and pastry arts while looking so skinny. As what my classmate quoted from Chef Mario Batali: “Don’t trust a skinny chef.”  He told us that he runs everyday, both in the morning and in the evening. He is very friendly and approachable. He graciously entertains our questions. Yes, my classmates were very engaging and were really interested with the class. It seems like most of them have taken classes here with him already. He gave us tips and secrets that would improve the quality of the product such as which ingredients to use or how to determine whether the number of eggs is enough. He even told me where I could buy silpat mats which is less expensive but the same quality.

We are six students in this class. And I am the only thorn among the rose. Or shall I say, the only caramel among the puffs. Hmm. One took a TESDA course on baking and pastry arts and still taking other classes that could enhance her skills, another was a middle-aged businesswoman (whose business is into autoparts), another resigned from her accounting day-job and decided to learn baking while the other is a Makati-based lady who had a lot of connections, engaging and seemed well-travelled.

Attentively watching as Chef Estagle demonstrates how to make crème patissière.

The class was from 10am to 4pm. It was a day well-spent. We were shown how to make the puffs using a piping bag. I confess, I use an ice cream scooper to make the puffs. I find it hard to make the puffs identical in size. Chef Estagle made the dough of all the pastry on the earlier part of the day and the fillings during the afternoon. The dough was very basic. According to Chef, it has 4 basic ingredient: the liquid, the fat, the flour, and the eggs. Simple. Anyone can do it. It may sound intimidating because of some french terms, but actually, it isn’t.

Crullers with Rum Glaze

The first pastry we finished was the Spritzkrapfen or the Crullers with Rum Glaze. You can say that it is very reminiscent with the regular donut (Kirspy Creme), the spanish churro and the italian zeppole. It is as fried dough. I’m not into fried things so I only had 2 pieces. According to Chef, this is a eat-to-serve thing. You cannot let this rest because the bread will turn soggy. The glaze was simple, just a mixture of confectioner’s sugar, a little water and lots of rum. Yum! Or you can use any alcohol. The alcohol is just to cut the oiliness or greasiness of the pastry.

Choux Swans with Coffee Pastry Cream

Paris Brest with Crème Mousseline Praliné

Savory Puffs with Smoked Salmon Mousse

Espresso Profiteroles with Cinnamon Soufflé

Next was the Choux Swans. Now these, these were just elegant and dainty! I can already visualize the things that I can do with this craft. Although no one is making this due to the fact that it is very labor intensive, you can’t help but smile at how it looks right?  The next things we were able to finish were the Paris Brest, which resembles that of a bicycle wheel and the savory puff. You thought puffs are just for dessert? Nope, they are good for savory dishes too! We made a smoked salmon mousse with dill for the savory puff. The difference though is that the puff was made omitting the sugar, and adding dry cheese and pernod. Sounds amazing? It is amazing! Next was the profiteroles. The difference with an éclair and a profiterole is that an éclair is filled with pastry cream while a profiterole is with ice cream. This recipe we made was simply amazing! Chef Estagle told us that the Frozen Cinnamon Soufflé can go well with apple pie. After I tasted it, YES, he was right! It was divine! I was like, wow! I can’t imagine something could taste like that! The cinnamon was delicious! I can’t wait to experiment it with other recipes. Imagine the things that you can mix and match with! That is what Chef told us. We can actually fill the puffs with anything you can imagine. We just have to make sure that we do the correct techniques. The puffs should be dry so as not to absorb the moisture from the filling for it will be soggy. No one wants soggy cream puffs right?

Croquembouche with Almond Nougatine

And finally, the pièce de résistance! The croquembouche with nougatine. Three words: simple, elegant, delicious. Go figure!

A 10-inch Strawberry Shortcake all for the Queen of Spain.

What’s with the Queen of Spain? Well, recently, no, at the moment, Queen Sophia of Spain is in the Philippines to renew ties and to personally inspect sponsored projects by the Spanish Government. With that, Chef Heny was asked to make certain dessert creations for the monarch. Her staff made quite a few for such a slender lady, and for just a single banquet. They made a lemon torte, orange pound cake, pastillas, biscuits, brazo de mercedes and, the ultimate strawberry shortcake made with fresh humongous strawberries and blueberries. The ultimate (refer to picture)!

After the class, it took home a number of things. A brain full of new knowledge and skills, a tummy full of desserts and a tupperware more of desserts. For the recipes, e-mail me. To know more about the classes offered by the Heny Sison Culinary School, visit their website here.

Clockwise from the Top: Paris Brest with Crème Mousseline Praliné, Choux Swans with Coffee Pastry Creme, Crullers with Rum Glaze, Croquembouche with Almond Nougatine, Espresso Profiteroles with Cinnamon Soufflé, and Savory Puffs with Smoked Salmon Mousse


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