King Cake cream puffs are so tasty
Mardi Gras season isn’t as all-consuming here in Mississippi as it is in Louisiana, but there are still Mardi Gras traditions that we all joyfully celebrate—I’m talking King Cakes. I’ve seen a wide variety of King Cake variations over the years. Last year I noticed the classic French Galette des Rois making the rounds. This year, I think I’ve seen everything—croissants, doughnuts, bread puddings, all of them beautiful and delicious in their own special ways. So in the spirit of King Cake variations, I present to you now. . . a recipe for King Cake cream puffs.
This is a fun weekend project with lots of flexibility if you’re short on time or energy. After almost every big step, there’s an opportunity to freeze or pause the project to resume at a later time. I store the puffs in my freezer to enjoy throughout the entire season. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
For the cream puff pastry dough:
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
3 eggs and an egg wash
For the cream puff filling:
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
2-3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
green, gold, and purple sprinkles
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the milk, water, sugar, salt, and butter in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the butter is melted and the liquid begins to boil. Turn the heat to low and add all of the flour. Stir vigorously as the dough begins to come together. Continue to stir for around 3 more minutes to cook out the floury taste.
Add the dough to the bowl of a standing mixer (or use a handheld mixer). Turn the mixer to medium and add three eggs one at a time. After the third egg, you should have a glossy dough.
Fill a piping or zippered bag with the dough and cut off the tip or corner to create a half inch opening. Hold the tip about a half inch away from the surface of your parchment paper, and pipe the dough into one inch diameter rounds. It doesn’t matter if they’re not exactly an inch, but find a size you like and be consistent with the rest of your dough, if you can.
This is a great place to stop if you’d like to resume the rest of the recipe later. Finish piping all of your dough (around 25 rounds) and put your pan in the freezer. As soon as the dough is frozen, you can remove all of your frozen dough rounds from the pan and store them in a freezer-safe bag. They shouldn’t clump together if they’re completely frozen.
Brush the rounds with the egg wash, and bake for 30-35 minutes, a few minutes longer if they’re frozen—look for a dark golden brown color. It’s better to overcook your puffs than to undercook them. If they’re undercooked, they could deflate when you take them out of the oven. Drill a hole with the tip of a small paring knife into the bottom of each puff. Let the puffs cool until you’re ready to fill them.
Whip the heavy cream with the whisk attachment of a standing or hand-held mixer. Once you have soft peaks, gradually sprinkle in the cinnamon and sugar. Once combined, continue whipping until you have medium peaks, then turn your mixer to low and add the mascarpone. Mix until just combined.
Fill a pastry bag with the cinnamon filling. Store this in the fridge (up to 2 days) until you’re ready to fill your baked puffs. Fill the cream puffs with your cinnamon filling until the puff is full. You should have plenty of filling for 25 cream puffs.
Whisk your powdered sugar with the milk, melted butter, and almond extract. Dip the tops of your filled puffs into the almond icing, and set them upright for the glaze to settle. Sprinkle with purple, green, and yellow sprinkles in any way you’d like. Serve immediately, or freeze for later. If you freeze them, allow them to come to room temperature for 20-30 minutes before serving—or blast them in the microwave for 5 seconds, like me.
Ann Elizabeth and George Gillespie are private chefs and owners of Supper Club Chef Service. Visit supperclubchefservice.com for more information or follow them on instagram @supperclubchefs.