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 PuffsIngredients
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*
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
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 ~
Pâte à choux