Dianthus: a plated dessert

I really love baking with pate choux. But I tend not to make it as often due to mirror glaze cakes and naked layer cakes and doughnut creams all looking a lot prettier, so unfortunately, cream puffs do tend to take the back burner to my list of go-to desserts. That being said, when I do make cream puffs or eclairs, I typically try to include the sablage(also called craquelin) just to make it prettier. I also decided to go with a religieuse, or a smaller cream puff stacked on top of a larger one, since those look a lot prettier than just one lone puff. For my recipe, I actually used pitaya powder to help with the coloration of it, much like my Amoroso Pink dessert I made for Pinktober. The key to keeping the color in the sablage is to not bake your cream puffs at so high a temperature. A lot of cream puff recipes typically have you bake them at 400 to 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. For this one, we’re doing it at 375 degrees F for 18 minutes to get them puffed and baked, then another 7 minutes at 285 degrees F, just to fully dry them out and prevent them from collapsing.

For my fillings, we have two. Confit rhubarb as well as an elderflower pastry cream. We also have a simple chantilly that’s going between the pate choux, and the two garnishes are strips of poached rhubarb, as well as a rhubarb reduction. The reduction is simply made from taking that poaching liquid after I poached the rhubarb in it and reducing it to the consistency of a thick syrup. For the poaching liquid, we have some ginger, lemon juice, honey, and elderflower. Just simple, light, and cohesive with the other flavors inside of the cream puff. I dubbed the dessert Dianthus after a pink flower, as a direct reference to the two ingredients that are featured, being pink rhubarb and elderflower. Overall, it is a simpler dessert than some of the others that I am usually known for making, but sometimes, simplicity well done is better than a circus of things that do not make sense together!

For the sablage:
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pitaya powder
a pinch of salt

Combine into a dough. Roll out on a lined sheet tray and cut out 2 inch and 1 inch circles. Freeze solid. Carefully remove the circles from the tray with an offset and place over the cream puffs before baking.

For the pate choux:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
a pinch of salt

Bring milk, salt, and butter to a simmer. Sift in the flour and stir into a ball. Take off heat and cool down before adding in your egg. Pipe onto a lined sheet tray four 1 1/2 inch rounds, and four 1/2 inch rounds. Place 2 inch circles of the sablage onto the 1 1/2 inch puffs and 1 inch circles onto the 1/2 inch rounds. Bake in the middle rack at 375 degrees F for 18 minutes, before lowering the oven to 285 degrees F for another 7 minutes(even though the puffs are different sizes, the baking temperature is light enough that they will all bake through regardless). Cool completely.

For the pastry cream:
2 egg yolks
2/3 cups milk
2 tablespoons elderflower liquor
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
a pinch of salt

Heat up milk with salt. Whip egg yolks with sugar, cornstarch, flower, and liquor. Temper with milk. Whisk on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, then pass through a strainer. Cool completely.

For the rhubarb confit:
1/2 cup diced rhubarb
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons water

Reduce together until rhubarb is soft. Cool completely. Fold into finished pastry cream then transfer to a piping bag. Store in the refrigerator.

For the poached rhubarb:
1/2 stalk of rhubarb, cut on a bias
poaching liquid

Poach rhubarb in liquid for 30-45 seconds. You want it to be bright and acidic, and to still have some of that bite in terms of the texture. Afterwards, reduce and strain the poaching liquid to create the reduction sauce.

For the poaching liquid:
1 cup water
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup elderflower liquor
juice and peels from 1 lemon
a pinch of salt

Bring to a simmer.

For the chantilly:
1/3 cup heavy cream
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon elderflower liquor

Whip to stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag lined with a star tip.

For assembly:
Fill the cream puffs with the pastry cream. Pipe two circles on each cream puff and assemble them with the smaller going on top of the larger. Garnish the bottom circle of cream with three slices of the rhubarb, and the top with one slice. On the plate, start with a swirl of the rhubarb reduction sauce and then garnish with the religieuse to finish.

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