Classic French patisserie and American bakeshop goods reimagined with exotic Asian ingredients is having a moment in Gotham’s sun: hojicha ice cream, green tea brownies, Mont Blanc infused with yuzu and more. I was in heaven. The cream puff, with its plain choux base, is a constant source of inspiration for local chefs, and filled with everything from earl grey and matcha to my new love, black sesame (you could find all three at Bibble & Sip). The it ingredient has a nutty and sophisticated flavour and, when blended with pastry cream, turns a striking grey colour. These puffs are slightly larger than run-of-the-mill American varieties and are topped with traditional sablé à choux or craquelin (a streusel-like mixture that adds sweetness and crunch, and gives the choux a uniform dome shape). For me, they’re elegant yet edgy, and best enjoyed piped to order when the choux is still crisp.
Like a giant profiterole, topped with a streusel-like mixture that adds sweetness and crunch.
- 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) milk
- 125 g (4 ½ oz) unsalted butter, chopped
- 1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) water
- 150 g (5 ½ oz/1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 4 eggs
Black sesame craquelin
- 110 g (4 oz) unsalted butter, chopped, softened
- 110 g (4 oz/½ cup) raw (demerara) sugar
- 110 g (4 oz/¾ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- black sesame seeds, to scatter
Black sesame pastry cream
- 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) milk
- 220 g (8 oz/1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) thickened (whipping) cream
- 75 g (2¾ oz/¼ cup) black sesame paste (see tip)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time: 1 hour
To make the craquelin, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until well combined. Add the flour and beat on low speed until just combined.
Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Place the milk, butter, sugar, salt and water in a saucepan over medium–high heat.
Cook until the butter melts, then bring to the boil. Add the flour and beat constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and pulls away from the side of the pan. Cook, stirring, for a further 1 minute to develop the gluten.
Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 1 minute to release most of the heat. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined after each addition, then beat for a further 1 minute or until glossy.
Transfer the choux dough to a piping (icing) bag fitted with a 1.5 cm plain nozzle and pipe 5 cm (2 in) rounds onto the prepared trays. Roll out the craquelin between two sheets of baking paper until 3 mm (⅛ in) thick. Using a 4.5 cm round cutter, cut out rounds and place on top of the choux. Scatter black sesame seeds generously over the craquelin. Bake, one tray at a time and covering with a sheet of foil for the last 10 minutes to prevent overbrowning, for 40 minutes or until puffed, golden and crisp (the choux pastry should feel hollow when lifted from the tray). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, to make the black sesame pastry cream, pour the milk into a saucepan and bring almost to the boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk the sugar, cornflour, eggs and egg yolk in a bowl until well combined and pale. Whisking constantly, gradually add the hot milk until combined. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook, whisking, over medium heat for 5 minutes or until thickened. Bring to a simmer and whisk for a further 2 minutes or until thick and glossy. Transfer to a bowl, then cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or until cold.
Using an electric mixer, whisk the cream to stiff peaks. Fold the black sesame paste into the pastry cream until well combined, then fold in the whipped cream. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 3 mm (⅛ in) plain nozzle.
Just before serving, make a small hole in the base of each choux puff and pipe in the black sesame pastry cream, tapping the puff gently to make space for more cream (you may have some cream left over). Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 day.
• Black sesame paste should be pure, so check the ingredients carefully (red beans and sugar are often misleadingly added). The best quality is available from Japanese grocers. You can also make the choux puffs ahead. Store them in an airtight container, then re-crisp in a 160°C (320°F) oven for 8 minutes. Cool completely, then pipe.
Recipe from The Desserts Of New York by Yasmin Newman (Hardie Grant Books, $39.99). Photography © by Yasmin Newman (location) and Alicia Taylor (studio).
This recipe is part of our feature, Readable feasts: The Desserts of New York.