But that's for another day. I just stopped in tonight to post a recipe for these:
Pretty, isn't it? I got the original recipe out of Alice Medrich's Chocolate Holidays (another Christmas present). Her version is for cream puffs filled with chocolate rum custard, stacked into a loose (short) croquembouche and topped with caramel glaze and spun sugar. I simplified it (and substituted a liqueur more to my taste) and ended up with these:
Chocolate Grand Marnier Cream Puffs with Candied Violets
adapted from Alice Medrich
For the cream puffs:
double recipe pate a choux
For the chocolate Grand Marnier custard:
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier (or rum, or amaretto, or whatever you like)
4 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups milk
Place the chocolate, vanilla and Grand Marnier in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour and cornstarch. Add the egg yolks and whisk until the mixture is pale and thick. Set side.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it forms a skin. Pour the hot milk gradually over the yolk mixture, whisking constantly until all of the milk is added. (Go slowly at first! You don't want to scramble the eggs.) Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook on medium heat (err on the side of low), stirring constantly. Alice Medrich suggests a wire whisk - I used a wooden spoon as well, to better reach the corners of the pan. Stir until the custard thickens considerably, then continue to cook and stir for another couple minutes. It should have kind of a runny pudding-like texture. Scrape the custard into the bowl with the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and completely combined with the custard. Cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, though I found it easier to work with (filling-wise) once it had warmed up a tiny bit.
Once your cream puffs have cooled, split them, fill them with the custard. To decorate them, I melted a little chocolate with some cream to make a sort of ganache and drizzled it over the cream puffs before topping them with candied violets.
And yes, the candied violets are utterly unnecessary, but aren't they pretty? I couldn't stand it, I had to use them.
Oh, and nothing to do with cream puffs - I'm attempting the (in)famous no-knead bread recipe tomorrow, so keep an eye out for the results!