We finally had beautiful spring weather this weekend, so to celebrate I made the two recipes from my idea notebook that seemed most seasonal. First up, a dessert that makes you feel like a fancy pastry chef but isn’t much harder or more time-consuming than making cookies.
I bought a box of pearl sugar when I was in Sweden in October, with the intention of making kanelbullar – Swedish cinnamon-and-cardamom rolls that are sprinkled with pearl sugar instead of frosting – but still haven’t gotten around to it. But that’s not to say that I haven’t been frequently thinking of them and their even-more-cardamom-forward cousin, kardemummabullar. Every time I buy freshly ground cardamom from the grocery store’s bulk bins, I catch whiffs of it every time I walk by the shelf where I keep my most prized ingredients. It’s the best illustration of the value of buying smaller quantities of freshly ground spices and always makes me wish I lived near a Swedish bakery.
Finally, I saw a recipe for sugar puffs, chouquettes in French, that seemed like the perfect way to bring my cardamom and pearl sugar together without getting yeast or complicated weaving techniques involved. If you’ve never made choux pastry – the eggy pastry that bakes into hollow puffs for profiteroles, éclairs, and savory gougères – don’t be intimidated. It can seem like a strange process, since the flour gets cooked briefly with melted butter and hot water on the stove, but it’s quite simple and incredibly versatile.
The puffs are fantastic on their own but the little sugar-crusted balloons practically beg to be filled with something delicious. Melting white chocolate into the cream before it’s whipped gives it an extra milky-sweet depth that I love and is still lighter than the pastry cream you usually find in cream puffs. Lightly sweetened whipped cream would also be excellent. Berries bring an extra burst of flavor and seasonality. I’ve always liked the combination of fresh fruit and cardamom, and the blueberries and blackberries I used don’t require any prep other than a quick rinse before serving.
Cardamom Puffs with White Chocolate Whipped Cream and Berries
You’ll want to serve the assembled puffs as soon as possible after assembling them. They can be stored in the refrigerator for a few hours, but after that, the puffs will start to get soggy. To take freshness to the extreme, make a topping bar and have your guests assemble their own. You can use any berries or other fruits here. Once they’re in season, sliced peaches or nectarines would be excellent. Pearl sugar is available in some specialty stores, online, or at IKEA.
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
- 1 cup flour
- 4 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon milk or cream
- Pearl sugar (or another large-crystal sugar)
- 2 pints of berries
To make the white chocolate whipped cream: Bring the cream and water to a simmer and pour over the white chocolate. After 30 seconds, stir the mixture well. Let the mixture stand, stirring every 5 minutes, until the white chocolate is completely melted.
Allow the mixture to cool and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least two hours. When you’re ready to assemble the puffs, whip the cream until it holds its shape.
To make the cardamom puffs: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Heat the water, sugar, cardamom, and butter in a saucepan until the butter is completely melted. With the heat still on, stir in all the flour at once. Continue stirring until the batter is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Allow the dough to cool for two minutes and then beat in the four whole eggs, one at a time. You can use an electric mixer for this step if you want to avoid an arm workout.
Using a pastry bag with a large round tip or a plastic zip-top bag with a corner cut off, pipe mounds of dough about 1 ½ inches wide and 1 ½ inches tall onto your baking sheet. You should have about 16 mounds.
Beat the egg yolk and milk together and brush the glaze onto the dough mounds. Sprinkle each mound liberally with pearl sugar. Shake the pan gently so that any loose sugar sticks to the edges of the dough (this prevents loose crystals from melting and burning on the pan).
Bake for about 35 minutes, until puffed and well-browned. Use a paring knife to poke the puffs once they come out of the oven to let the steam escape. Allow the puffs to cool completely.
To assemble: Slice the puffs in half (like a hamburger bun) with a serrated knife. Spoon a large dollop of white chocolate whipped cream onto the bottom half. Place fruit on top of the whipped cream. Place the top half of the puff on top, slightly off-center so the fruit and cream is visible.