My family and I were on our annual spring break trip to Siesta Key, Florida last week and, although I took my computer with me, I didn’t turn it on once. It was awesome! I turned off all of the busyness and excess in my life and just enjoyed my family and a much needed slower pace. AND I enjoyed having people cook for me! We went out to dinner most nights and indulged in copious amounts of seafood — with the highlight being a whole lobster on date night with the hubby (and a Watermelon Mojito that was to die for!). However, I did cook twice throughout the week — sautéed shrimp and parsley potatoes one night and then a lemon pepper grilled grouper and chili lime shrimp another night. But I didn’t take any pictures or take any notes. This was just straight up cooking for the sake of cooking — with no intention of blogging any of it. It was pure relaxation.
That said, I came home to a stash of recipes from the past month that I’ve been wanting to post. As I sat down at my computer this morning to do some long overdue blogging, this Lemon Cream Puff recipe seemed like the best one to start with. I thought these cute little fellas might make a nice, light Easter dessert, especially if you are hosting a brunch.
I made these Lemon Cream Puffs for a ladies gathering that I hosted a few weeks ago. I thought they turned out great. My inspiration came from having some lemon curd on a Dutch baby pancake (recipe to come!) in my cooking class. I forgot how yummy lemon curd is so I grabbed a jar at the store. I just made up this recipe the day of the gathering and was pleased with how well it turned out. I did do a little research on candied lemon peel — that was a first for me!
You can make this Cream Puff recipe as involved or as simple as you like. If you are going for simple, substitute creamy cool whip for the homemade whipped cream and top the lemon cream puff with a raspberry. If you are going for involved, follow my recipe more precisely and whip the cream yourself and take the time to make these delicious candied lemon peels (and heck, make your own puff pastry if you want!). These make a very pretty, elegant dessert which appeals to all ages! Really, who doesn’t like a Cream Puff?
Lemon Cream Puffs with Candied Lemon Peel (Makes 18)
1 pkg Pillsbury Puff Pastry Sheets (or make your own!)
6 oz. heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp powdered sugar (plus more for dusting the puff pastry)
1 tsp vanilla
4-6 oz lemon curd (find near jelly and jams)
For Candied Lemon Peels:
1 1/2 cups of sugar (plus extra for coating)
*Chill your mixing bowl and whisk in freezer to be prepared for making the whipped cream.
Puff Pastry: Take thawed puff pastry out of package. There will be two square shaped sheets. Cut each sheet in 9 squares or use a biscuit cutter to cut out 9 circles. Lay in mini muffin pan (may need to put them in every other one so that they don’t overlap). Use something heavy to hold down the center so it doesn’t puff up and out of the pan (I used clean marbles that are used in decorative flower arrangements — you could use dried beans).
Lemon Cream: While pastry is baking, pour heavy whipping cream in CHILLED bowl for stand mixer. With CHILLED whisk attachment, beat whipping cream until peaks are just about to form. Beat in 1 Tbsp powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla and beat until peaks form. Be careful not to over beat or it will turn to butter. Fold in by hand (I used a rubber scraper) 4-6 oz of lemon curd to taste. Put lemon cream mixture in a pastry bag or zip lock bag and refrigerate until you are ready to fill the puffs
*Options: Substitute raspberry or strawberry jam for the lemon curd and create a Raspberry or Strawberry Cream Puff.
Candied Lemon Peels: Cut off rind from two lemons and slice in thin julienned strips. Put peels in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil for 30 seconds. Drain in a colander. Put peels back into saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil again for 30 seconds (this process removes the bitter taste). Drain in colander.
Add 2 cups of water and 1 1/2 cups of sugar to saucepan. Stir with a whisk while the water heats until all of the sugar is dissolved. Add peels to the sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil. Let the peels simmer for 60-90 minutes. You can tell when they are done when they are transparent and easy to bite through. There is no harm in cooking them longer so err on the side of cooking longer if you are unsure. When finished, drain the peels (reserve liquid if you want — it makes a delicious lemon flavored simple syrup for cocktails!). Spread the peels out on a pan lined with parchment. Let cool for 10-15 minutes or until tacky to the touch (don’t let them go longer than this or you’ll lose the stickiness that you need). Coat in sugar and return to parchment to dry and cool (this adds a little sweetness and prevents them from sticking together).
Make sure to remove marble or dried bean from the center of the cooked puff pastry. Put some powdered sugar in a sifter and lightly sift over the puff pastries. Fill them with the lemon cream. Add one candied lemon peel to the top. Refrigerate until ready to serve. They will keep their shape very well (and will even taste great the next day if refrigerated).
Candied Lemon Peel recipe adapted from toriavey.com