Salted-Caramel Cream Puffs with Warm Chocolate Sauce
- ACTIVE: 45 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 15 MIN
- SERVINGS: 8
One secret to pastry chef David Lebovitz's insanely addictive cream puffs is the salted butter he uses to make the perfect caramel custard filling.
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 3/4 cup water
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon salted butter, at room temperature
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- Sliced almonds, for garnish (optional)
- Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish (optional)
- Flaky sea salt, for garnish (optional)
- MAKE THE CARAMEL CUSTARD In a medium bowl, whisk the egg with the egg yolks, cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the milk until smooth. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 1 1/2 cups of milk over low heat; keep warm.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with 1/4 cup of water. Cook over moderate heat, swirling the pan and brushing down the side with a wet pastry brush, until the sugar dissolves. Cook undisturbed until a deep-amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the butter; be careful, it will boil vigorously. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the warm milk until blended; the mixture may separate a little. Slowly whisk in the egg mixture and bring to a boil, then cook over moderate heat, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and sea salt. Strain the caramel custard through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard and refrigerate until completely chilled.
- MAKE THE CREAM PUFFS Preheat the oven to 400º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar and salt. Cook over moderate heat for 1 minute, until the butter dissolves. Add all of the flour at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, then cook until the dough pulls away from the side of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let stand for 2 minutes, stirring a few times to cool down the dough. Add the eggs one at a time, beating constantly and thoroughly with a wooden spoon between additions: the dough should be smooth and shiny.
- Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe the dough into twenty-four 1 1/2-inch mounds on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 1 inch apart. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the tops and bottoms are golden. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack. Using a skewer, poke a small hole in the side of each cream puff to allow steam to escape; let cool completely.
- MAKE THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE In a medium saucepan, combine the half-and-half, cocoa, corn syrup and sugar. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Stir in the butter and chocolate until melted and the sauce is smooth.
- Scrape the custard into a piping bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain tip. Pipe the cream into the hole in the side of each cream puff until full. Drizzle with some of the chocolate sauce, sprinkle with garnishes and serve.