Fly Away: Cream Puff Swans

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Well, hello there! It’s been a while, I know. Second semester senior-dom has hit, and it has hit hard. But now, we’re at the end of the line, and suddenly I’m clinging to what’s left of my high school experience.   It’s pretty heavy stuff, my pre-college existential crisis is. What’s the opposite of heavy? Light! What’s light? Cream puffs! I’m making cream puffs!

Dat segway.

These cream puff swans are amazing. They’re delicious. They’re gorgeous. Best of all, they give me so much cred. They make me look like a professional. Full disclosure, they are kind of time-consuming, but if you don’t mind that, they’re really not hard. And LOOK HOW CUTE THEY ARE!

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Cream Puffs Swans

Ingredients (yields 28-30 cream puffs)

Pâte à Choux (Cream puff dough)

1 cup water

2 tsp. sugar

8 tbsp. unsalted butter

pinch salt

1 cup flour

4 eggs

Ganache

8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped (Use good quality stuff, not Hershey’s)

1 cup boiling heavy cream

Whipped cream

1 1/2 cup very cold heavy cream

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 tbsp. sugar or to taste

Directions

Pâte à Choux

Place the butter and the water in a small saucepan at medium heat and stir until the butter melts and the mixture begins to bubble.

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Take the flour off the stove, and immediately dump in all the sugar and flour. Stir until it comes together into a greasy dough.

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Transfer into a bowl, and allow to cool for 20-25 minutes.

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Then add eggs one at a time, stirring in between until a dough forms. At first it’ll look terrible and slimy.

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But then it’ll come together.

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Do this for each egg (it’ll get less sticky as you go along). And you’ll have your pate a choux dough.

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Transfer the dough into a pastry bag, or large ziploc bag. Cut an opening about 1/2 inch wide from the tip of the bag.

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Line a tray with parchment paper, and squeeze out the bodies of the swans. Hold the pastry bag at a 45 degree angle and, very slowly, move it in the direction of the body until it tapers off. The bodies should be 1 1/2 to 2 inches in length.

These are too big.

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These are better.

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Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees, and bake the bodies for 20-25 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown. Once they’re done, turn off the oven and leave the tray inside with the door open, to dry out the insides of the bodies.

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While the bodies are baking, make the swan necks/heads. Using a smaller plastic bag with about a 1/8 inch opening, squeeze out the dough into a long, thin S-shape. Then, go back to the top and squeeze out the head, pulling away sharply when you’re done.

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Bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes – but keep an eye on them; they can burn very quickly. You can put them in the oven with the bodies for the last 10 minutes or so. (These ones are bad, but I made better ones, you’ll see.)

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When the bodies are done, cut off the top third of the pastry, using the sharpest serrated knife that you have. If your bodies ended up a little flat like mine did, you’ll probably end up just cutting out an ovular lid. As long as the bottom piece is significantly bigger than the top, you should be good.

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Ganache

Now for the ganache. This is where things got sketchy for me. Chop up your chocolate, and place it in a small bowl.

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Then, warm the heavy cream in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, until it starts to bubble slightly. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

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Then stir the mixture with a whisk, and it should come together into a thick, shiny ganache. Mine didn’t. Because I used bad Hershey’s “Dark” chocolate, which is really not that dark. So, my ganache was really watery and I went into crisis mode, and reheated ganache on a double boiler, adding an extra 3 oz. of chocolate until it was fairly thick. So don’t use Hershey’s! Use the real stuff.

(No picture because I panicked).

Once your ganache is done, either pipe or spoon it into the bottom half of your swan bodies, until it fills up about halfway. Set these aside.

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Whipped Cream Filling

Now the whipped cream. Throw the cream, whisk, and mixing bowl into the freezer for about 5 minutes. Then, take them out and beat the heavy cream into soft peaks. (You can use an electric mixer, as long as you’re careful not to over-beat it. I’m a hand-beating snob, as my friends could probably tell you. I think it’s therapeutic).

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Add in the sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.

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Transfer the whipped cream into another ziploc/pastry bag. Optional fancy tip to get a feathery effect. Pipe into the swan bodies over the top of the ganache. You can go over the top, if you want.

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Assembly

Cut the top of swan bodies in half lengthwise to make the wings.

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Place the neck at the rounder end of the swan body (as opposed to the tapered end). Place the wings, with the crusty side outward (though it doesn’t really matter).

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And suddenly, you have swans! Aren’t they cute?

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Look, they’re doing the thing where they bend their heads together in a heart (cue aww’s).

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Keep refrigerated (but not covered) until you have to serve them.

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~Hafsa

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