Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Best Laid Plans - Green Tea Cream Puffs


Did you know that green tea is one of the most healthful beverages on the planet? Did you know that studies have shown that green tea is bursting with serious anti-oxidants that are proven champions in the fight against many of the ailments and diseases that typically afflict us? Did you know that for all its health-enhancing qualities that it has no calories and a fairly low caffeine content? And did you know that I blew out all the benefits of this powerhouse plant by baking up a batch of cream puffs with it?

My day did not start out so recklessly. I had the very best intentions. After a luxurious and desperately needed nine hours of sleep, I woke early with the idea that I would tap a teaspoon of green tea powder into a cup of hot water for a refreshing, cleansing tonic. While I do enjoy genmaicha prepared from bags or loose leaves, I had not found a high quality powder until a few weeks ago. Not that I wasn’t looking. I vividly remembered the sacred experience of one perfect scoop of matcha ice cream I’d had at a Japanese restaurant several months ago. As dense and crystal-free as gelato and as verdantly hued as a weathered park bench, it was impossible to disrespect the darkly earthy flavor by savaging the whole thing in one mouthful. It required a ritual as disciplined as chanoyu, a slow sculpting away at the clay sphere with the very edge of a small, carefully poised spoon. A very concentrated powder, I was told by my dining companion, was the prerequisite to making this exquisite treat at home.

A very concentrated powder is what I held in my hand this morning. I froze on the spot. Suddenly, the cup of hot water was looking pretty dull and uninviting. Not like a sweet, not like ice cream. Ice cream for breakfast, how decadent can you get? Even I, with a voracious sweet tooth, felt a flicker of shame at the idea. No, it had to be something indulgent that I could pass off as breakfast, even though it wasn’t exactly traditional. After all, millions reach for donuts and Danishes with their morning coffee every day. I absentminded cruised the interiors of my fridge, looking for that intangibly perfect something I knew was hidden in there.

It was: a tub of mascarpone with an expiration date still a month away. Wheels were turning, now; there was no turning back. I Googled green tea, I Googled mascarpone, I Googled myself into a frenzy, right into a green tea tiramisu recipe*, the epitome of fashionable fusion. Without any ladyfingers in the cupboard, I needed a fast and light foundation to hold the thick, rich cream. I leaned into the fusion and went to France, to a foolproof pâte à choux.

Foolish I felt, too. An hour later, I sheepishly eyed a platter cluttered with adorable little cream puffs. I really did have the best intentions. The pastries were among the most finely flavored and textured desserts I had had in a long time. I washed down my guilt with the biggest mug of green tea I could brew.


Green Tea Cream Puffs

Ingredients

1 batch of cream puffs, following the exact specs from the Joy of Baking (I piped the dough into 16 2-inch mounds.)



Green Tea Mascarpone Filling - Adapted from the recipe above*

Ingredients

8 ounces mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
2-3 cups of confectioners sugar
1 generous tablespoon green tea powder (I used matcha)
2-3 tablespoons milk

Method

While the cream puffs are cooling, beat the mascarpone and optional butter together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 cup of the sugar with the green tea powder. Beat this dry mixture into the mascarpone, then incrementally add the remaining sugar, alternating with spoonfuls of milk until the mixture reaches the consistency you prefer. (I chose a very thick, somewhat dry cream for deeply decorative piping.)

After the cream puffs have cooled, carefully split them horizontally (one third to one half down) with a sharp, serrated knife. Pipe or spoon filling into the cream puff cavities, then top each with the upper cuts of pastry. If filling becomes too thin while piping, place in refrigerator for a few minutes to chill and harden. Best served immediately. Makes 16 two-bite servings. --


This post is being submitted to Rinku of Cooking in Westchester, hosting Weekend Herb Blogging for Kalyn Denny of Kalyn's Kitchen, the creator of this popular weekly food blogging event.

Other People's Eats ~

Mascarpone
Tiramisu

Pâte à choux
Gruyère Gougères

46 comments:

  1. I cannot ignore matcha anymore. Where did you find it Susan? I am not able to locate a store carrying it yet. Those cream puffs are a work of art. Parisians would be proud :). Beautiful.

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  2. Susan - Fantastic post. I just learned a lot about green tea from you!!! I will seek out that ice cream too.

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  3. yes, u re back to your writing groove :)Salute your energy and spirits to get into an experimental mood early in the morning itself! they look very pretty!

    Shn

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  4. Totally lovely. What you make is always so beautiful! I wish we lived close to each other: in my freezer there is some green tea ice cream I made...

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  5. They look beautiful.... almost beautiful enough to make me want to start piping pastries... but no, I'm pretty bound to my tablespoon methods. *Blush*

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  6. Susan, these are exquisite to look at, and I am sure they taste heavenly. Just looking at them is making my mouth water!

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  7. Matcha is one of my favorite flavours and it goes really well in deserts! Matcha and mascarpone sounds like a great combo!

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  8. Can't think of a better way to ingest my anti-oxidants.

    Thank goodness for Googling.

    Lovely little turrets of green joy.

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  9. Ha ha, this process is so typical, and washing it down with green tea, that takes the cake - something I would do too! The first photo's really nice. How did you get that bluish light to shine down on the puff? I suppose the platform's green.

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  10. Such a pretty post with lovely writing as usual! And how adorable are those little puffs. You remind me that I need to make them shortly. :D

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  11. Just gorgeous. I've been reading more and more about using matcha powder in cooking and this looks like a beautiful example of how versatile it can be!

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  12. wow. i love cream puffs AND green tea! has anyone ever been to Beard Papa? they've got the best cream puffs! and they have green tea filling too. Im gonna try to make my own though. we'll see how it goes. i'll let you all know!

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  13. Choux pastry is one of my life failures; I've never made it successfully. It is maddening because my mother used to turn it out like clockwork with nary a problem. Yours are absolutely perfect -- I'm jealous! Excellent job, Susan.

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  14. those cream puffs might not have had all the health benefits of green tea but they must have made you feel good about making something so beautiful - and by the way, your list of green tea's benefits made me feel good about drinking chilled apple green tea all day :-)

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  15. How beautiful Susan. That's a great recipe.Photos are gorgeous too.I always wanted to make Cream puffs. Thank you!:)
    Enjoy your weekend.

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  16. Ooo-I love tea-related things! Last Christmas I made Earl Grey truffles and I've made green tea ice cream before. I'll file this away for future use!

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  17. Nice! Love the sound of your filling!
    I'm going to be making cream puffs soon as part of my journey toward mastering religieuses (baby steps!).

    Question: what size pastry tip did you use? I cheated and used an ice cream scoop when I made the gougeres!

    (Thanks for the link, btw!)

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  18. green tea brings back lots of memories ! i wish i too was offered those cream puffs adorned with your creativity years back when i was stuck in japan among my eager Japanese friends who were offering their most sort after green tea ! which was of course freshly brewed! I was taught all the etiquettes that go with the tea ceremony...this post brought back all those precious memories! only i wish i could have your indulgent break fast! hats off to you for your patience to experiment early in the morning!

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  19. I am glad you gave the rest of your lady fingers when we were visiting! If you hadn't you might not have come up with these beautiful cream puffs!!!!!!!! Green Tea ROCKS!

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  20. I've been hearing so much about this matcha powder. The next time I visit the fancy gourmet-over-priced store I have to ask if they carry it.

    The puffs are gorgeous.

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  21. You know, Susan, despite reading countless articles about the health benefits of green tea, I just haven't done all that much with it. These gorgeous puffs are truly inspirational though. Just lovely.

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  22. Hmmm...too bad I used up the mascarpone in my fridge to make those brownies and icing.These flaky puffs with their delicious centres do make me want to buy some more though!

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  23. Thank you, Suganya. I found matcha powder through Amazon, but you can find it remotely in a Japanese grocer or good health food store. The ceremonial grade powder is very expensive, but not necessary as an ingredient. I used a premium grade and was happy with the results.
    --
    Thanks, Jeni. The list of green tea’s health benefits reads is pretty long.
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    Hi, Shn. – Thank you. When a craving strikes, it really doesn’t matter what time of day it is.
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    Simona – Thank you. After the success of these cream puffs, Scott will pull the ice cream maker out of storage. I don’t think I can wait until this summer.
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    Hi, Tanya! Thanks so much. The spoon *does* work, but I’ve got so many cake decorating supplies, it would be a shame not to use them once in while.
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    Thank you, Vaishali. Their flavor is hard to describe, something like an herbal cannoli, not for the purest, but quite, quite delicious.
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    Hi, Kevin. -- It is a great combo. I’ll be using it more often, in desserts, of course. : )
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    Thanks, Lucy. Google really does make life so much easier. I don’t think I had the info on hand, no matter how many cookbooks I own. “Lovely little turrets…” a perfect description for them.
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    Thanks, Sra. The things we tell ourselves to get our sweet rations! The background was a plank of green marble that caught the light in just such a way to pull the blue from the sky.
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    Hello, Anh! Thank you very much. Yes, it’s time for you to make your cream puffs…to blog about, of course. You simply can’t keep them all to yourself. : )
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    Thank you, Kalyn. Matcha’s a real natural w/ dairy.
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    Eatwell – Yes, I’ve had Beard Papa cream puffs. I used to get them all the time at a little storefront near the NYC library in the East 40s.
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    Thanks, Laurie. Keep at it. I promise that you can make them successfully, too.
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    Hi, Johanna. It was fun how my morning completely morphed into something sweet and moreish. Apple green tea doesn’t sound nearly as guilt provoking as pastries. : )
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    Thank you, Asha. Hope you put cream puffs on your list…after the gnocchi. ; )
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    Hi, Ruhama. Earl Grey truffles sound FANTASTIC! One of my favorite teas.
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    Thanks, Ann. You won’t miss a beat w/ cream puffs. I used an 862 very large star tip for piping. Happy to link to your gourgeres; they were lovely.
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    Nanditha – Thank you. I’m glad I could bring back those memories for you. I’ve never experienced a tea ceremony before. Someday!!!
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    Hey, Ricki. – Though I didn’t know it at the time, giving you the leftover ladyfingers forced me to think of something else besides the great tiramisu we had Christmas Eve. I will make these when you next come to visit.
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    Cynthia – Thank you. You’re right; gourmet goods pretty much have premium price tags. The regular green tea bags we get in the supermarket don’t cost nearly as much as matcha powder.
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    Susan – Thanks. I haven’t done too much w/ it, either; in fact, I still prefer Earl Grey, oolong and Russian Caravan for general drinking over green even though I drink enough green after dinner to prevent sleep disturbance.
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    Valli – I’ll bet the mascarpone brownies and icing were first rate.

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  24. Many a times I have loaded calories on healthy stuff! Oh I must have some green tea now !

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  25. Mamma mia! Those look so delectable. More than delectable. I feel I could pick one up and stuff the entire thing into my mouth right now (no two bites for me). What a fabulous idea! I love the green tea flavor . . . this is inspired.

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  26. that is an exquisite cream puff there...look so professional...

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  27. Hi Susan! It's great to know all this new things (for me) about green tea. I'm a coffee addict, not tea. But reading your post might take me to the other side!!!
    Love your cream puffs and specially the green tea picture!!!

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  28. What a fabulous idea, indeed - and what pretty puffs! I've had green tea mousse and green tea icecream before now, so I know that green tea confections can really work! I'll be squirrelling this recipe away for party days... Thank you!

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  29. Talk about an inspired breakfast! You've got me thinking about green tea profiteroles...

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  30. What a lovely idea, thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Ulrike from
    Küchenlatein

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  31. Susan, your puffs are perfectly shaped! So beautiful.

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  32. Susan, lovie ~ I have had matcha ice cream, too, but was not especially fond of the texture. A bit to mallowy for my liking. I do drink green tea but only for its health properties. I have a feeling I will enjoy your Green Tea Puffs. I don't suppose it has anything to do with the pastry and marscapone.

    A beautiful result from a spur-of-the-moment venture into fusion baking. Good on you for tackling the spirit in the morning - mind you, I suppose after nine hours' rest you were raring to go.

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  33. Hi, Jyothsna. If we can only limit ourselves to one or two at a time, the “damage” wouldn’t be so great. ; )
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    Thanks, Lisa. Personally, I think green tea actually taste better paired with sweet dairy.
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    Thank you, Rachel. Good to see you. Cream puffs are pretty easy and naturally pretty, too.
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    Welcome, Nuria! Don’t get me wrong – I love my coffee, too! Thanks for your kind words!
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    Thanks, A Forkful of Spaghetti. Green tea desserts definitely do work, a little too well, I think. : ) Thanks for your visit! Good to see you.
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    Rosa – Thanks. The only thing missing was the chocolate sauce, but I opted out for fear too many flavors would compete.
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    Hello, Ulrike! Thank you. Good to see you!
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    Thanks, Patricia. Piping the pastries and filling makes all the difference.
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    Hi, Shaun. Too mallowy? Doesn’t quite sound like ice cream to me. The tea powder is too insignificant an amount to throw off the texture. I suspect the foundation recipe was different than the typical. If it was that it tasted too much of tea, then I attribute that to a heavy hand w/ the powder. Someday I’ll whip up a batch and try to convince you otherwise.

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  34. Wow! You are amazing! What an impressive journey from matcha powder to cream puffs! I must admit that I'd prefer the puffs to the tea! I love genmai cha, but I'm not a great fan of regular green tea - except with sushi, of course! But these cream puff? I'm totally down for them!

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  35. I'm so happy to find I'm not the only one eating dessert for breakfast--although mine definitely didn't have the powerhouse of matcha behind it. Yum!

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  36. Susan, those look absolutely wonderful!! i shud defenitely try matcha having heard so much about it..

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  37. trust me i have been in the same boat plenty of times..start the day with well intentions..only to eat something really really bad in the middle of the day..the rest of the day goes downhill ;)..the puffs look amazing! i would have eaten the whole batch at a sitting!!

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  38. cream puffs are on my favorite pattisserie. i was nine when i tasted it for the first time when my sister treated me in our school canteen..the taste was really amazing..then it was also the first dessert my husband baked for me..i always wanted to do this but hubby told me that doing the pate a chou is really the hardest part (dont know if he's telling me the truth hahaha} love the new style of your cream puffs and even more with green tea cream with it!!!

    ps, what a nice dessert waiting for me in your kitchen for my comeback :-)

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  39. Susan! these are absolutey gorgeous!! look at those perfect swirls! I've eaten a lot of sweets with green tea and red bean filling; this one goes on the to-do list too:)

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  40. Toni, you sweetie! Thanks! You call it an impressive journey, but I do feel a little guilt with dereliction of duty. ; ) Yes, I prefer the puffs, too. So there! Guilt assuaged…a little.
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    Welcome, Chou! So cool that I am not alone. Heaven knows I try with the oatmeal…Good to see you here. Thanks for the visit.
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    Hi, Superchef. Thank you very much. Someday you will try matcha, all in good time. You’ll see. ; )
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    LOL, Rajitha! Then you know what I’m talking about. I must say that I did scarf down a few at the first tasting, although I am proud to report that they did last for *almost* three days!
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    Dhanggit – Your dear husband, bless his soul, is either bending the truth or speaking like a true man. : ) Choux paste is the easiest of the French pastries, almost foolproof. I think he wanted your supreme appreciation and devotion for his baking endeavor. Knowing you, he got it. Do try them sometime; they are so easy, you will wonder why you go to the patisserie. Then you can have fun wagging your husband. I’m glad your dad is feeling better.
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    Richa, thank you so much!
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    Thank you, Mansi. My very first green tea sweet was a dumpling filled with sweet adzuki paste, just like you. It was just as memorable in its own way as that green tea ice cream. Sigh.

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  41. These look perfect! If it's a one-bite serving for me, does that mean that I can have two??? ;-)

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  42. these look lovely, first time on your blog, it looks very good:)

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  43. What a fun and fashionable dessert! I've been wanting to try my hand at profiteroles and it looks like you've done a great job at it!

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  44. hello
    i really want to try this.. but my friends dont really eat cheese. do u think i could make the regular vanila cream and then mix in the macha?

    thx!

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  45. Anon - Yes, you could fill these with cream (I don't know if you mean pastry cream or whipped cream), but in either case, the texture will be lighter and looser, not nearly as dense. I would add the matcha incrementally, tasting after each addition. It is very strong and may overpower the delicate cream if you use the full tablespoon. You could also look online for green tea filling recipes. Green tea desserts are very popular; I'm sure there are many options.

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