Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tomato-Basil Puffs

Pate a Choux, or cream puff pastry, doesn't have to be sweet.  The dough itself doesn't have any sugar in it, just the cream filling when you make cream puffs or eclairs.  You can flavor the dough with herbs before baking to make a savory flavor.  You can also do this with pie crust dough; I've seen hors d'oeuvre mini-cups for sale with a sun-dried tomato flavoring.  And I have found another use for the dried basil flakes!

It also isn't difficult to make these.  Everyone who has never made profiteroles thinks they're fancy, difficult, and amazingly expensive.  Let them think that.

Since I was so far behind when preparing my tea party, I forgot to take a photo of these.  Here's another shot of the whole first-course platter.  The puffs are the ball-shaped things with bits of tomato peeking out.
1/4 C butter
1/2 C water
dash salt
1/2 C flour
*1 tsp dried basil flakes
2 eggs
1 Roma tomato, finely diced
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 375º.  In a small saucepan, bring butter, water, basil, and salt to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Add flour all at once and stir until it forms a paste that pulls away from the sides of the pan.

2.  Add eggs one at a time, incorporating fully before adding the next.  Allow to cool slightly so it is easier to handle and use the time to line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

3.  Using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" round tip,  pipe out 1-1/2" circles of paste at least an inch apart on cookie sheet.  Use a damp finger to press in any points left by the tip, or they'll bake that way.  Bake about 25 minutes, until golden brown.

4.  Remove puffs from oven, close the oven door, and shut it off.  As soon as the puffs are cool enough to handle, slice off the tops to expose the insides.  Return sheet to oven and let them dry for another half hour.

5.  While the puffs are drying, dice the tomato and season with oil, salt, and pepper.  If preparing all of this ahead of time, simply refrigerate tomato mix and store cooled puffs in a ziplock at room temperature until ready to use.

6.  Shortly before serving, fill puffs with the tomato mixture.  Serve immediately, before the moisture soaks into the puffs and makes them chewy.  You want them crisp.

Makes about 18 hors d'oeuvre-sized puffs

Difficulty rating :)

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