I've mentioned before that I am not the best at baking, but once I saw this over at My Kitchen Cafe I knew I had to try. I made this recipe for Mother's Day. I grew up with my grandma making cream puffs and while I've never been brave enough to try, I am glad I did. This is not only delicious but beautiful in presentation. It looks like a lot of steps but was truly not difficult. I made one slight variation noted at the bottom. Definitely a keeper!
What You Need: (Cream Puff Base)
5 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup flour
For Cream Cheese Mixture:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar
For the cream puff layer, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring the butter, water and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once and stir quickly until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the mixture until smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat until the mixture is shiny with a satiny sheen. Don’t overbeat. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan (or in a pinch, you could use a 9-inch circle cake pan). Using an offset spatula, spread the mixture on the bottom and one inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes.
The original recipe said: remove from the oven and prick pastry with a toothpick 10-12 times. Return to the oven and bake 5-10 minutes more until golden brown but not over baked (you can insert a toothpick into the center and if it comes out with sticky dough, it still needs longer in the oven). However, mine was completely done after the first 25 minutes. Cool completely.
For the cream cheese mixture, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar (if you want to ensure there are no lumps, sift the powdered sugar into the cream cheese) and beat with the cream cheese until mixture is smooth and light. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread onto the cooled cream puff shell.
The original recipe said: top with fresh sliced strawberries (I mixed 2 cups of strawberries with 2 teaspoon sugar and let them hang out in the fridge while I was prepping the cake) or you can use a 16-ounce bag of frozen strawberries that have been thawed. Mix the thawed strawberries and juice with 1-2 teaspoons sugar and bring to a simmer in a saucepan. Cook until slightly thickened.
For that last step, I used a 14 oz bag of frozen sliced strawberries (Birdseye brand), thawed. I used those to top the pie without any of the extra steps of mixing with the sugar or cooking it and they worked wonderfully. Why not save yourself some work?