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Cream Filled Puff Pastry Rolls

Cream Filled Pastry Rolls

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Makes 12 to 16.
By Dennis W. Viau; an original recipe.

Using puff pastry dough makes these pastries easier to prepare, allowing more time to be devoted to the cream filling. A simple custard would suffice, but almond praline ramps this filling up to a rich and satisfying flavor.

Ingredients:

2 boxes (17.3 oz./490g each) frozen puff pastry sheets
For the Almond Praline:
4 ounces (113g) almonds
½ cup (125g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60ml) water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
For the Cream Filling:
The almond praline from above
1 packet (¼ ounce/7g/1 tablespoon) unflavored gelatin
¼ cup (60ml) water
1½ cups (355ml) half-and-half or whole milk
5 large egg yolks (save the egg whites for making Cat’s Tongues cookies; the recipe is on this web site)
1/3 cup (66g) granulated sugar
1½ tablespoons corn starch
3 tablespoons butter (unsalted okay); chilled and cut into pieces
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (237ml) heavy cream; chilled

Directions:

Thaw the puff pastry according to package directions, typically 30 to 40 minutes. Note: Leaving it thawed for a long period of time, such as several hours in the refrigerator, can make the dough unworkable. Use quickly as soon as the dough is thawed. Separate the two sheets and unfold. Cut each sheet into 4 squares.

Heat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Separate one of the eggs, reserving the yolk for later. Whip the egg white lightly to make an egg wash. Roll a square of pastry dough around a cannoli tube, brushing the overlap with the egg wash and pressing to seal. (Wrapping the cannoli tube in a small piece of parchment paper will facilitate removing the tube later.) Arrange on a baking sheet. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove the cannoli tubes. Store the pastry in an airtight container until needed.

To make the Almond Praline:

Heat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (wax paper will not suffice) and arrange the almonds on the baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Chop in a food processor to reduce to small chunks. The almonds don’t need to be chopped fine yet. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Do not use wax paper or plastic wrap.

Heat the sugar, water, lemon juice, and salt in a medium saucepan until the water comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat the medium-low and watch the pan, without stirring, until the water evaporates and the sugar syrup starts to change to a golden color. A good instant-read digital thermometer is useful at this point. When the sugar reaches the hard crack stage (310°F/154°C), remove from the heat and pour over the chopped almonds. Be careful; it’s hot. Set aside to cool. Let the pan cool and then it can be filled with water and allowed to soak to dissolve the sugar residue.

When the almond praline is cool, the sugar should be hard and easy to break with the hands. If it is a little soft and sticky (the soft crack stage), it can still be used. Break or cut the praline into chunks and place them in a food processor fitted with a chopping blade. If the sugar is sticky, powdered sugar can be used to dust the praline, helping prevent it from sticking to the blades. Chop to a fairly fine texture, like bread crumbs. Add the vegetable oil and process into a crumbly paste. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and set aside.

To Make the Custard for the Cream Filling:

Put the ¼ cup of water in a small bowl and sprinkle the unflavored gelatin over the top. Set aside. Select two saucepans, one slightly smaller than the other, such that one can be placed inside the other to make a double boiler. Heat the half-and-half (or milk) in the smaller pan until it just comes to a simmer and remove from the heat. While the milk is heating, combine the egg yolks, sugar, gelatin, and corn starch in a bowl, whisking together until thoroughly mixed. Whisking constantly, pour about a third of the hot milk into the egg mixture and combine well. This is called tempering the eggs and helps prevent them from cooking into a scrambled egg mess. Then pour the tempered eggs into the milk pan and thoroughly combine with the whisk.

Heat about 1 cup (237ml) of water in the larger pan until it comes to a boil. There should be just enough water to allow the bottom of the smaller pan to come into contact with the water when placed inside. Place the smaller pan in the large one, return the water to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stirring constantly, cook the custard mixture in the double-boiler for 8 minutes. It will begin to thicken when the temperature rises enough to set the corn starch. Continue cooking. At the end of 8 minutes it will have a thick consistency. Add the chilled butter (cut into small pieces), and vanilla. Combine thoroughly.

Pour the custard into a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap or trimmed parchment paper onto the surface of the custard and refrigerate 45 minutes to 1 hour.

To Make the Praline Cream:

Add the praline to the cooled custard and blend well to remove any lumps that might block the piping tube.

Place the chilled heavy cream in a mixer bowl and beat until frothy using a mixer fitted with a wire whisk. Increase the speed of the mixer and continue beating until the cream forms soft peaks. Add the whipped cream to the custard mixture and carefully fold together so as not to break down the loft of the whipped cream. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large (½ inch/12mm/Wilton #48) star tip.

To Fill the Pastry Shells:

Pipe cream filling into the pastry tubes, filling completely. Arrange on a baking sheet or tray that will fit in your refrigerator. Continue until all the pastries are filled. Keep chilled until ready to serve. This cream filling is made with butter and gelatin, which helps it maintain its shape when cold. When it warms, the cream will soften and wilt; therefore, keep leftovers refrigerated until ready to serve.