This is a lovely festive dessert recipe with profiteroles stuffed with Crème pâtissière and arranged in a wreath around a pile of fresh cherries. Christmas is not even Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere without cherries. My favourite fruit of all time. Their season is short and it’s best to jump on board as soon as it starts.
Cherry Time delivers boxes of fruit directly from their farm in Worcester to your door during the season. There is no better or easier way of procuring this delicious stone fruit. They are picked off the tree and packed straight away minimizing any delays in handling and processing. They are the freshest they can be and will last for ages if you let them.
Last year I made an easy cherry galette using fresh cherries and it’s a winner for the festive season too.
A note about the choux pastry:
Choux pastry is somewhat of my nemesis, and it is tricky to make perfect profiteroles. There is so much technique involved to ensure a crispy exterior and a light and fluffy interior. You don’t want them to be heavy or too doughy. I tested out a few recipes and settled on a formula that was easy to achieve with a batter that was not too runny when the profiteroles were piped.
I was in a big rush so didn’t dry them out in the oven as suggested. They softened slightly but since I was filling them with crème pâtissier, it didn’t matter. Go ahead and dry them out in the oven to ensure a crisp shell.
I used a combination of half water and half milk to make the choux pastry. The protein in the milk allows the pastry to darken a little. You can use all milk and they will be a darker colour. Water alone will create quite a pale profiterole.
How to make Crème pâtissière:
Otherwise known as crème pat or pastry crème, this is an absolute must-have addition to your pastry and baking arsenal. It is essentially a thick custard and a great filling for pastries, profiteroles, eclairs, and tarts. You can flavour it in a variety of ways, but I love vanilla the most. I used the seeds from a whole vanilla pod for this recipe. Use vanilla paste or vanilla extract if you can’t get hold of the whole vanilla. All it to steep in the milk before to maximize the flavour.
Crème pâtissière is a mixture of milk, eggs starch, and sugar. Use whole milk, free-0range egg yolks only, and choose corn starch over flour to thicken. I followed the Serious Eats recipe for this, and it was perfect. This is a great article if you really want to delve into the details about crème pâtissier.
You want to ensure your pastry cream is thick enough to pipe and if you are not infusing any flavour in it, you will need to temper the milk with the egg mixture to ensure it doesn’t cook the eggs. This should be made in advance and allowed to cool in the fridge (preferably a day in advance)
*Cooks notes: The pastry cream is quite sweet so I used a little cream to lighten it, but this is totally optional. Store any leftover filled profiteroles in the fridge. If you don’t wish to use pastry cream, fill your profiteroles with Chantilly cream (cream mixed with vanilla).
Recipe – makes around 18 profiteroles
Profiterole wreath with cherries
- 2 cups 455g whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean split and scraped
- 115 gm or ½ cup granulated sugar
- 30 gms or 3 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp salt if you are using unsalted butter otherwise omit this
- 4 large free-range egg yolks
- 30 gms or 2 Tbsp butter
- 120 ml milk
- 120 ml water
- 115 gm butter
- 3 large free-range eggs whole
- 145 gms flour cake or all-purpose
To assemble the wreath:
- ¼-1/2 cup whipped cream optional
- 2 cups of fresh cherries
- Icing sugar for dusting
- Sprigs of fresh rosemary dusted in icing sugar for garnish
Cherry icing glaze: (optional):
- 150 gms icing sugar
- 105 gms cherry preserve or jam
To make the pastry cream (in advance):
- Heat the milk in a medium-sized heavy based pan and add the scraped-out seeds from the pod and the pod. Bring to a simmer then take off the heat and cover and allow to steep for a min of 30 minutes (or longer).
- Fill a large bowl with ice and water to make an ice bath for the custard.
- In a bowl stir the sugar, cornstarch (salt if you are using unsalted butter). Add the egg yolks and whisk until pale and fluffy (I used a hand-held electric beater).
- Remove the cover and vanilla pod from the milk, and slowly add it to the egg mixture while whisking continuously. Once it is well mixed add it back into the same pot and put it back onto a medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes until the pastry starts to thicken. Keep whisking continuously. Once it starts to bubble, set a timer and cook for a further 1 minute (this step is important in thickening the custard.)
- Remove it from the heat, add the butter and whisk until it's incorporated and glossy. Push the custard through a fine sieve into a bowl and place this bowl into the ice bath. Immediately cover the custard with a piece of baking paper or cling film. This will prevent a skin from forming.
- Refrigerate until you are ready to use. Whisk it up before using it to fill these profiteroles.
To make the profiteroles:
- Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.
- Heat the water and milk in a medium-sized pot and add the butter. Bring it to a boil and then remove from the heat and immediately add the flour. Beat until well combined and cook this for a further 2 minutes stirring continuously. The dough should read 75 - 80C/165-175F on a digital thermometer and be pulling away from the sides of the pan. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Add the pastry to e bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until there is no more steam coming off.
- Once it has cooled to around 63C/145F you are ready to add the eggs. Add them one at a time beating until they are well combined before adding the next one. They might look a little split at first but the batter will come together. Another way to tell if the pastry cream is ready is when you pull the paddle up, the pastry makes a V shape off the bottom. It should be thick enough to pipe.
- Fill a piping bag with a 2cm round nozzle and fill it with the pastry cream.
- Line a large baking sheet with baking paper and lightly brush the paper with water or spritz with a water from a spray bottle. Pipe around 18 mounds of pastry allowing space between them.
- Dip your finger in water and press down on any sharper tips that may have formed.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 200C then turn the oven down and bake for a further 20 minutes. Do not open the oven during this time.
- To create crispier profiteroles, turn the oven off and wedge the door so that it is ajar and allow them to cool in the oven
To make the icing glaze:
- Place the icing sugar and cherry preserve in a bowl and mix to combine. Use a fork to smooth out any pieces of cherry in the jam if desired.
To assemble the wreath:
- Fit a small, pointed nozzle on the end of a piping bag, and fill this with the whisked pastry cream. Make an incising at the bottom of each cooled profiterole and pipe a dollop into the cavity.
- Add a small dollop of cherry icing glaze to the top of each profiterole and arrange on a circle on a flat round plate. Place about half the cherries in the middle. Arrange the second tier of filled and iced profiteroles between the ones arranged on the bottom layer. Pile more cherries into the middle and dust them with icing sugar.
- Decorate with sprigs of rosemary that have been dusted with icing sugar.
*This post is proudly sponsored by Cherry Time
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