Burnt Sugar Banana Cream Puffs
These burnt sugar banana cream puffs are choux pastry covered in sweet craquelin filled with fresh banana pastry cream and burnt sugar whipped cream, sprinkled with more burnt sugar and topped with a brûléed banana slice. The caramelized burnt sugar adds a great depth to the sweetness of the banana pastry cream. To achieve the burnt sugar flavor you need take your sugar one step past caramelization and get it just to the point where there are some puffs of smoke that adds a little bit of smoky burnt flavor. Think fire roasted marshmallows or toasted meringue.
To top these sweets, I used the trusty kitchen torch to brûlée a banana slice. I’ve tried to get similar results using the boiler or frying pan but because bananas have so much sugar in them already, the heat from the broiler or pan causes them to release their moisture and they become too soft to form a nice caramel/burnt sugar crust on top. Also, make sure to serve the cream puffs right after you brûlée the bananas. This will insure a nice crunch of the burnt sugar. If you let them sit the moisture in the banana will soften the sugar. No worries on the flavor if you have to let the sit before serving, you will still get the flavor just not the crunch.
Choux au Craquelin sounds very French (because it is haha) and like many French things very complicated but with the right tools choux pastry isn’t too finicky. This dough is twice cooked. Once on the stove top and once in the oven. This is what gives it the great puff. I like to beat my pastry by hand but it is rather thick and does take a bit of work to get the eggs full combined. If you would like you could add the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer after beating in the flour and forming a ball. Then, let the mixer do the tough job of getting the eggs mixed in.
Burnt Sugar Banana Cream Puffs
Choux au Craquelin
5 tablespoons cool butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg white
Fresh Banana Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 egg yolk
2 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 small banana, diced
Burnt Sugar Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon dark rum, optional
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Choux au Craquelin: In the bowl of a food processor, process sugar and butter pieces until it forms large crumbs. add in flour, salt and vanilla bean paste and process until a dough forms. Bring the dough together to form a disk.
Then, Roll the dough between 2 pieces or parchment paper until 1/16 of an inch thin. Place covered in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Cut the dough into 2 inch circles and keep circles in the freezer until ready to use. You may need to roll the dough scraps out again to get enough circles. You will need approximately 40.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment pare or silicone mat.
In a medium saucepan combine milk, water, butter, and salt and bring to boiling. Then, add flour in all at once stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat and add eggs and egg white, one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition.
Prepare dough in a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe 1 1/2 inch circle and cover with a frozen craquelin circle. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and firm. Then, transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
Fresh Banana Pastry Cream: In a heavy saucepan bring the milk and 1/4 cup of sugar just to a boil over medium heat.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and egg, remaining sugar and cornstarch until smooth.
Just when the milk comes to a boil reduce heat. Then, drizzle 1/3 of the warm milk it into the bowl with egg mixture in a thin stream while continuously mixing. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and slowly bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Once the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, remove from the heat and stir in the butter, and vanilla.
Pour into a heat-proof container and top with plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled. To prevent browning, I like to add my banana pieces to the pastry cream when chilled and just before use.
Burnt Sugar Whipped Cream: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat (parchment paper will also work).
Sprinkle the sugar evenly in a thin layer on your prepared pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes until dark golden brown. Check every minute or so after 12 minutes just to make sure you just reach a dark brown/slightly burnt caramel.
When you reach your deserved color remove from the oven and let cool completely. Break the cooled caramel into shards and place in a food processor. Process the caramel until all the large pieces are broken up. Remove 2 tablespoon of the sugar and set aside the rest for sprinkling and garnish.
With a whisk by hand or using a stand mixer, whisk the cream until it starts to thicken. Then, add the 2 tablespoons of burnt sugar and continue to beat until you reach the desired consistency. Since we are piping this cream, you can also add an whipped cream stabilizer, just follow the directions on the package. I like Dr Oetker Whip It Whipped Cream Stabilizer packs. You can find them on the baking isle of the grocery store.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with the pastry tip of your choice (I used a wilton 4b) with the whipped cream.
Slice the tops off of the cream puffs and reserve. Fill the middle with a spoonful of banana pastry cream. Top each with a swirl of whipped cream, sprinkle with reserve burnt sugar and press the top on.
If desired top with a brûléed banana slice just before serving. To make these, thinly slice a banana. Top the slice with sugar and then using a kitchen torch to brûlée the sugar until dark.
makes approximately 40 cream puffs.