I have a lot of kitchen failures. I make a lot of solidly good recipes. I make a fair number of great recipes. But then every once in a while I stumble unto something that is deeply, inscrutably, remarkable and I fall in love with food all over again. Last week, on a rainy, less-than-ideal afternoon, that happened, and I made what I, and my cream-puff-expert mama, declared to be the best cream puffs ever.
Coconut cream, I adore you.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold,
it would be a merrier world.”
- J. R. R. Tolkien
I know what you are thinking. If you have been following this site for any significant amount for time, you have heard me talk about how much I dislike (read: loathe) the texture of coconut.
There are just two things on earth that I earnestly want to love but cannot swallow without gagging; oatmeal and shredded coconut.
While that’s still true, about a year and a half ago I fell in love with a guy who LOVES coconut, so I have had to figure out a way to incorporate it into my baking.
I love the flavor of coconut, it’s just the limp, waxy texture that has always repulsed me. However, through experimentation I have discovered that as long as the shreds are crisp and crunchy, I can more than tolerate them, I can genuinely enjoy them.
Especially, when they are folded into rich, buttery coconut cream. Just before it is eaten mind you, otherwise they get soggy again.
Picky? A little...but that's a baker's prerogative, right?
If you are wondering just how fantastic this coconut cream could really be, it is the most perfect cream filling that I have ever tasted.
My mom actually walked in the door as I was finishing these puffs and decided to pipe the filing into her mouth. She’s a very graceful woman, until coconut cream comes into the picture.
I never thought cream puffs needed improvement, until now. From here on out it’s coconut cream forever and ever. Amen.
Oh, and did I mention that these tiny puffs are also filled with a spoonful of one of the most wonderful substances known to man? Dulce de leche - a rich, creamy caramel, is tucked under the clouds of coconut cream and sandwiched between airy pate a choux shells.
While you could make your own dulce de leche, I took a short cut and bought mine. Next time, it will be homemade, but this time I really just wanted to get these little lovelies into my mouth.
This recipe is entirely a product of spontaneity. I went to the market with a wholly different recipe in mind, but while hungrily standing in front of the dry goods aisle, I spied coconut cream and a tiny, tempting jar of dulce de leche. Matcha powder suddenly looked suspiciously salubrious - something I was not in the mood for on a Monday afternoon.
These puffs were born.
One of my favorite recipes of all time, stemmed from an impulsive, craving-driven decision.
While further adornment was not needed, a simple raspberry sauce added an acidic punch that elevated the rich and decadent flavors of the dulce de leche and coconut.
I told myself that these were a gift for my fiance. I told myself that after I ate each one.
In cooking, there are so many times for things to go wrong, but that only makes it all the more delightful when something goes really, really right. This is that time. Break out your piping bags!
Dulce De Leche Coconut Cream Puffs with Raspberry Sauce
for the pate a choux
- 8 ounces water
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- 4 ounces all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, combine water, salt, sugar, and butter. Place over medium high heat and stir until the butter has melted. Bring the pot to a simmer and then whisk in flour.
Cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, then remove from heat and quickly whisk in eggs, one at a time, until the batter is smooth and very thick.
Place the batter in a piping bag and pipe 1 1/2 inch rounds, swirling several times to create tiny honeycomb-shaped puffs, unto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. The shells should be deep golden and should feel stiff and hollow when tapped gently.
for the coconut cream filling
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 1 cup shredded coconut
Place shredded coconut in a small nonstick skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until the shreds are a rich, golden brown. Remove from heat and roughly chop. Set aside.
Combine heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gently beat in coconut cream and toasted coconut.*
Transfer the filling to a piping bag.
*You can make the filling in advance, but I like to fold the toasted coconut into the cream just before I am about to serve the puffs so that it stays crisp.
for the raspberry sauce
- 1 cup fresh, or defrosted frozen raspberries
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Place raspberries and water in the work bowl of your food processor and pulse until smooth.
Use a fine mesh strainer to strain the mixer, removing the seeds.
Sift the confectioner’s sugar over the raspberry sauce and whisk until smooth. The sauce should be relatively thick.
assembly and garnish
- 1 cup dulce de leche
- fresh raspberries, optional
Slice the cooled cream puff shells in half horizontally and place about a tablespoon of dulce de leche in the bottom shell of each puff.
Pipe a thick layer of coconut cream filling over the dulce de leche, and cover with the top half of the shell.
Drizzle with raspberry sauce just before serving and top with a fresh raspberry. Enjoy!
You can fill the puffs in advance, but they will become soggy after several hours. I like to make my puffs just before I am about to serve them. Just keep the cream and raspberry sauce in the refrigerator and cover the pate a choux shells with plastic wrap. They will last up to two days.