Gingerbread Cream Puffs with White Chocolate Chantilly

I have been waiting ALL YEAR for this month. I talked about how excited I was for Christmas back in August. I have been thinking of Christmas baking ideas since the summer. My Christmas Pinterest board is incredible. I love everything to do with Christmas.

And now, finally, it is an acceptable time to display my undying love for the holiday season because it is the first of December. 

It's going to be Christmas all month long here on the blog. 

That's right. Because I love the season so darn much, I will be posting Christmas-y recipes for the whole month leading up to the big day! And I will be posting more than once a week, too! Because I love Christmas that much. 

Nevermind the fact that I'm working 11 hour days, 6 days a week. Nothing stops me from Christmas.

There's just something about the atmosphere of the holiday season. The soft, twinkling lights strung up in trees everywhere, the (mostly) cute decorations in store windows, and, of course, the foooood. 

Apart from the lights and decorations, the food and baking of the holidays are my favourite. All the cute little decorated sugar cookies and gingerbread men! Adorable. 

I wanted to take that warm, spicy, and oh-so-Christmasy flavour of gingerbread and do something new with it. These cream puffs are filled with a gingerbread mousse that totally tastes like a straight up gingerbread cookie. The white chocolate chantilly helps to soften the bitterness of the molasses and the warm spices round everything out nicely. Dusted with icing sugar, they are the cutest little gingerbread puffs you've ever seen!

Gingerbread Cream Puffs with White Chocolate Chantilly

Choux Paste

125 g water
62 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 g salt
69 g all-purpose flour
125 g eggs

Cookies for Cream Puffs

 90 g light brown sugar
75 g all-purpose flour
15 g almond meal
42 g cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch dice

Gingerbread Mousse
Recipe adapted from Frozen Desserts

218 g heavy cream
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 g whole cloves
2 g ground ginger
56 g sugar

130 g egg yolks
82 g molasses
4 g gelatin sheets, bloomed 

White Chocolate Chantilly

100 g heavy cream
75 g white chocolate

First, make the cookies. Place the brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and use a fork to break up any lumps. Add the all-purpose flour and almond meal. 

Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low to combine the dry ingredients. Add the butter and pulse the mixer on the lowest setting to begin incorporating and breaking up the butter. Increase the speed to low and mix for about 3 minutes, until the butter is broken up and completely incorporated into the dry mixture; the mixture will begin to come together in large crumbles but will not gather into one uniform mass.

Place two pieces of parchment paper on the work surface and divide the crumbles between the sheets. Using your hands bring the crumbles together to begin to form a dough; it will still be crumbly. Then top each potion of the dough with another piece of parchment paper and roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to the back of a sheet pan, stacking one on top of the other, and freeze for 5 to 10 minutes. 

Working with one sheet at a time, continue rolling, freezing the dough again as it softens, until it is 1/16th inch thick. During this process, the dough will crack and gaps will form; parch them as needed with bits of dough. Do not worry if the edges are a bit rough; the cookie will be cut with a cutter.

Freeze until cold before cutting out cookies. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month.

For the choux, prepare your sheet pan. Line a sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper. Use a template underneath the silpat/parchment to help with spacing and consistent size. I used a 2.75 inch diameter template. 

Alternatively, if you have a 2.75 inch (or similar diameter) demi sphere silicone mold, this is the perfect use for it. It will create consistently even and level cream puffs. For these cream puffs, I used my silicone mold and it produced near perfect cream puffs. For just $12, these silicone molds are worth the money even if you just use them for cream puffs. It makes a big difference.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. 

Combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan, place over medium heat, and stir as the butter melts. Once the butter has melted, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, then remove the pan from the heat and, with a stiff heatproof or wooden spoon, stir in all of the flour. Continue to stir for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture has a paste-like consistency, then place over medium heat and stir rapidly for 1 to 2 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan is clean; the dough should be glossy and smooth but not dry. 

Immediately transfer the dough to the mixer bowl and mix on low for about 30 seconds to release some of the moisture. Slowly begin adding the eggs, about 50 grams at a time, beating until each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next one. Continue adding the eggs, reserving 25 grams, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl when pulled with the paddle but then grabs back on again.

Increase the speed to medium and mix for 15 seconds to be sure all of the eggs are incorporated. Stop the mixer. When the paddle if lifted, the dough should form a bird's beak - it should hold its shape and turn down over itself but not break off. If the dough is too stiff, add the reserved egg.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag and chill the dough until cold, about 20 minutes. Pipe the dough on the silpat or parchment using the templates. 

If you are using a silicone mold, pipe the choux into the molds, level off the surface with a small offset spatula, and freeze until hard. Unmold onto a silpat or parchment.

Cut out a cookie that, when baked, will cover not just the top of the puff but the sides and bottom as well (mine were too small and just covered the top bit!). Place a cookie on top of the choux and press down a tiny bit, just enough to secure it to the choux.

Put the choux in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 350 F and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Lower the oven temperature to 325 F and bake for about 10 minutes, until the puffs are light and feel hollow. Break one open if necessary: the centre should appear completely cooked.

Set the pan on a cooking rack and cool completely before filling.

For the gingerbread mousse, scald 100 g of the heavy cream in a saucepan. When it has just reached a boil, remove from the heat and add the spices and ginger. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.

Strain the cream through a fine-mesh sieve and cool. Once the cream is cold, combine it with the remaining cream.

Whip the spiced heavy cream to medium-stiff peaks. Reserve in the fridge.

Place the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. 

Place the molasses in a saucepan set over medium heat. Begin whipping the egg yolks on medium speed once the molasses comes to a boil. When the molasses reaches 115 C/ 239 F, slowly pour into the whipping yolks. Increase the speed to high and continue whipping until the mixture has quadrupled in volume.

Using the residual heat from the molasses saucepan, melt the bloomed gelatin. Pour into the molasses-yolk mixture. 

Fold the whipped cream into the molasses-yolk mixture in two additions. Transfer to piping bag and chill until set, about 2 hours.

For the white chocolate chantilly, melt the white chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Once it has melted, take it off the heat and cool to 35 C. 

Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks. Fold in the white chocolate in two additions. Transfer to a piping bag and reserve in the fridge until ready to use.

For assembly, cut the top one-third of the cream puff off with a serrated knife. Pipe the gingerbread mousse into the cream puff, reaching just to the rim. Pipe the white chocolate chantilly in a spiral pattern. Gently top with the top of the cream puff. Repeat with the remaining cream puffs. Dust with sifted icing sugar. Serve immediately.