Profiterole Christmas Tree. Do you love Christmas desserts that have that wow factor? This Profiterole Christmas Tree will surely check off all the boxes: presentation, creativity, flavor, and texture, with an added bonus, it's a finger dessert!
Song of the day: Oh Christmas Tree by Johnny Reid
Beautiful light and airy puffs filled with a rich lemon pastry cream, all dazzled up with glitz and glamour. You couldn't ask for more for this festive season watching as your family admires your creation and enjoys the fruits of your labor.
Making the choux pastry
- In a saucepan over low heat, add the water, butter, salt, and sugar. Stir until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once. Begin stirring with a flat wooden spoon and put back on the stove on low heat. Keep stirring vigorously for 3-4 minutes. The dough will dry out a bit and start to pull away from the sides. Remove from heat and allow to cool just a bit.
- Transfer the dough into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add 1 egg at a time, adding the other only when the previous has been blended well. The dough will now have the consistency of a thicker custard and it is ready to pipe.
Piping the choux
- Transfer the pate à choux to a piping bag with a round tip. If using baking sheets lined with parchment paper, use a small amount of the dough to glue down the corners of the parchment paper and immediately pipe the dough on the prepared baking sheet. Holding the piping bag vertically above the tray, and starting about 2 inches from the edge of the parchment paper, pipe circles onto the parchment spaced about 2 inches apart, with a steady hand. Using your wet index finger, gently pass it on top of the piped dough to smooth down any bumps.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, without opening the door. After, prop the door open with a wooden spoon to let the steam escape and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until you feel that the outside of the dough has crisped up. Turn off the oven and leave them inside, with the door open for a little bit to dry, then take out and let rest on a rack. Once cold, turn them upside down and, with the tip of a knife, make a small hole at the bottom.
Lemon pastry cream
You can make the lemon pastry cream the day before and leave it in the fridge with some plastic wrap covering the surface of the cream. Or, you can make it in the morning, before making the puffs, and let it cool. The recipe for the lemon pastry cream is the one I use all the time, my mom's recipe: milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon rind/juice. It's luscious, not sweet, and beautifully aromatic.
Filling the puffs
- Separate puffs according to size and shape, choosing the larger ones for the bottom layer and going smaller towards the top.
- Place the lemon pastry cream in a piping bag with a long pointed tip and fill the cooled cream puffs.
Assembling the tree
- First, dip the top of the cream puffs in the icing glaze. To some of them add white beads or whatever decorative sprinkle you want to use. Set aside. TIP: Instead of the glaze, you could melt some white chocolate and dip the top of the puffs in it.
- Then, dip the bottom in honey and place it in a circle on a serving tray. I used a 10-inch raised cake plate and I could fit 14 puffs on the first layer.
- Continue to build the second layer, dipping the bottom of the puffs in honey to hold them in place. The second layer will have a smaller circumference creating that cone shape. Repeat creating smaller and smaller circles until you are left with one profiterole at the top. As you work your way up, you may have to play with your puffs turning them to find the perfect fit.
Lastly, once finished assembling, dust icing sugar over the top and be creative in your presentation. We sprinkled gold stars and pink hearts, then used a ribbon, a star, and lights.
The power of creativity
Baking is a wonderful activity that is keeping many of us "sane" during these harder times of isolation and social distancing. Being creative helped me stay in the moment, focus on the task at hand, and set my mind free from all the lingering worries. Making profiteroles is one of my absolute pleasures, as you already know, I do not care much for filled and layered cakes. Moreover, I like simplicity, so when thinking of how I wanted my Profiterole Christmas Tree to be, I envisioned a white, ethereal affair, not highly decorated, but subtle. Shimmer beads, white glaze, some gold stars, and soft pink hearts, enveloped in a cloud of powdered sugar.
At the end, when Loreto came back home, we finished the tree together. He swirled a string of lights and a festive ribbon around the tree, then placed a star on top. It is not perfect by any means, some of the chouquettes (puffs) kept wanting to roll down, so we ate them, lol. However, the flavors are wonderful together. Since the choux has almost any sugar, and the lemon cream is deliciously tangy, the sweetness is provided by the icing glaze and the beads, and the honey that works as the glue.
It's only two days until Christmas. Enjoy the time, cherish the moment.
Merry Christmas from us to you!