August 29th is National Lemon Juice Day, so I thought we might want to celebrate with a little something nice. Maybe some lemon curd filled pastries?
Here is an easy and quick recipe for Zesty Lemon Filled Choux Puffs.
I would happily make these delights all day long. They can look rather impressive, but the business of making the choux (pronounced shoe, as in tennis) is easy peasy. And just between us, although it might not be ‘correct’, I sometimes add just a touch of almond, vanilla, lemon, etc. to the choux. If possible, I use the highly concentrated oils rather than the more liquid flavorings, for fear of ruining the consistency.
Not a fan of lemon filling? Not an issue – these are nice with butter, chocolate mousse (another easy recipe, but for another day), or strawberry preserves beaten with whipped cream. They even work well with savories like tuna salad or veggies. You are only limited by your imagination!
Well, enough of that! Here we go with the actual recipe and some photos just for fun.
First, make your Choux:
1/2 cup generous Water (I use a touch more than the usual 1/2 cup, but not too much!)
4 Tablespoons Butter (use the very best butter you can find, preferably unsalted)
1/2 cup Flour
2 Eggs (room temperature is best, but if in a rush, at least try to warm them in a warm towel)
Preheat the oven to 375*
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, or if you are not as wild about parchment as I am, have at the ready unlined and ungreased cookie sheets.
In a medium saucepan, bring the water and butter to a boil. Remove from heat, then add the flour all at once. then replace the pan over moderate heat and stir like mad until the mixture comes away from the sides of the saucepan, making a ball. Remove the pan from the heat again, letting the dough cool for about five minutes. Then add the fresh eggs, one at a time, assertively stirring each one into the cooled dough until the mixture is smooth and has the consistency of white glue – like the kind used in classrooms.
Using large spoons or iced tea spoons if you’d like smaller puffs, drop equal sized dollops of dough about 2″ apart onto the cookie sheets.
Bake one sheet at a time for 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden.
Some people insist that you need to poke a small hole into each puff in order to allow the steam to escape, but I don’t always think about it and have had dry centers even when I’ve forgotten to do it.
Nonetheless, cut open the upper third and fill with the … hey! Wait a second! Do try to stop eating them before they are all gone since you still have a lot of filling to use. Oh well, these are simple enough to make again … and again … and again!
The Lemon ZEST Filling
I am going to share the simplest lemon filling I know with you, but as you are already aware, there are a zillion recipes for lemon curd, lemon butter, lemon everything. Play with this and make your own complicated or straightforward version. Just remember that the idea is to have a good time in the kitchen!
2 8-ounce packages of real cream cheese (the substitutes simply don’t work as nicely)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (yup, this is going to be very easy!)
1/2 cup sour cream (I use plain yogurt because we never have sour cream in the house)
1/4 cup lemon juice (I do prefer to squeeze fresh lemons, but it’s your recipe now, so that’s up to you)
The zest of at least one lemon (the more lemons, the zestier the outcome)
Dash of lemon oil, vanilla, coconut, etc. (not actually necessary, but an option if you’d like to experiment with flavors)
Place all of the ingredients in a bowl or food processor – or blender, I suppose – and blend until smooth, creamy and wonderful. Assuming all of the fresh-from-the-oven delights haven’t been devoured, spoon the filling into the few remaining Choux Puffs. You will have more than enough, so it might be wise to make multiple batches of choux pastry, or use the leftovers as filling for a refrigerated cake.
- If you are concerned about the degree of icky sweetness, only pour about 1/2 to 2/3 of the can of sweetened condensed milk into the bowl above, then blend and adjust for taste and consistency. You could use heavy cream, plain yogurt, and/or more cream cheese instead of the entire can.
And then it is time to serve these wonders with a dab of filling and a scattering of lemon zest on top – or drizzle them with melted white chocolate, or lightly sift confectioner’s sugar on top.
Whatever you’d prefer!