Last night I had the pleasure of taking part in the Eat Local Challenge Farm to Fork dinner held at The Informalist. I can easily say it was the most fun I’ve had in months. Several of the most talented chefs in the Chippewa Valley (along with little old me) got together and created a six course meal with wine and cocktail pairings highlighting locally sourced ingredients from right here in Wisconsin. It truly was a magical evening in the kitchen and from what the guests said, it was just as magical for those who dined. **Photo credit goes to Kyle Lehman Photography for all the mouthwatering photos below**
I am quite a novice when it comes to these high end events and to be honest, it was so well orchestrated and ran so smoothly that I kind of felt like I was in a movie. The care with which each chef created and elegantly plated their dishes; the speed and grace exhibited as the servers whisked our artful dishes out to the dining room; the exuberance of the staff after the last plate of each course was served; and finally the gratitude from the guests who thanked us endlessly for a delicious evening.
For the other chefs (you know the professional chefs, who do this for a living and are really good at it) I’m sure this was commonplace. But I was in awe. That dinner ran like a well oiled machine and I felt super proud just to be a part of it! With all that I have to write about the evening now, would you believe at the end of the dinner when all the chefs had to “say a few words” to a restaurant full of 80 guests, I squeaked out a short inarticulate sentence and quickly passed the microphone onto the next chef??? Ironic, isn’t it? I love to write for others, but I hate to speak in front of them! I’ve always been that way, and probably always will be. You just gotta do you, ya know?
Before we get to my recipe (which was the sixth course of the evening) let me give you a quick run down of all those delicious dishes you see above:
Choux a la Crème with Bourbon Maple Chantilly Cream, Caramel and Toasted Pecans
For the cream puffs:
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup water, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 130 grams all purpose flour
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
For the Chantilly cream:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 T. bourbon whiskey
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup full fat sour cream or crème fresh
For the garnish:
- caramel sauce
- toasted pecans
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the butter, water, sugar and salt over medium high heat in a medium saucepan. Be sure to stir frequently. Once the butter has melted and the mixture comes to a boil, remove sauce pan from heat and add flour all at once, stirring quickly with a wooden spoon. Once the dough forms a ball, place it back over the heat and continue stirring for 2 minutes or until the ball of dough is nice and smooth. Then transfer dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
While the dough is still warm, add 1 egg and mix on medium speed until incorporated. Continue with remaining eggs and then mix for another minute or until the dough is shiny. Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and careful pipe mounds of dough about 1-1.5 inches wide and 2 inches tall onto the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches of space between each puff. Place in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow puffs to cool completely before filling.
While the puffs are cooling, you can clean out the bowl of your stand mixer and get started on the creamy filling. Add heavy cream, bourbon, maple syrup and sour cream to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk until soft peaks form, then transfer cream to a piping bag fitted with a long narrow tip used for filling and refrigerate until ready to use.
When the puffs have cooled use a knife to something sharp to poke a small hole in the bottom of each puff. Fill each puff with a generous amount of cream, dividing the filling evenly between all the puffs. Drizzle with caramel and garnish with toasted pecans. Serve immediately.