Starting your day: a religieuse

I was trying to figure out some creative ways to use pate choux, and then I thought about making breakfast cream puffs. I wanted to use bacon, blueberry, and maple, to emulate pancakes, and from there, I just thought about how I could use them in fun or inventive ways in pate choux. So I actually infused the pate choux and craquelin doughs with rendered bacon fat and maple syrup! I have made bacon fat biscuits in the past, and they are extremely flaky, and have this nice smokiness to them. I know that some people might think that it gross, but I can guarantee that it tastes no different than butter! I also went with a maple pastry cream, maple candied bacon, and a completely unsweetened blueberry-lemon coulis, to add sweetness, texture, and some acidity to balance all of those rich flavors. I did not want to just to do normal cream puffs, so I went with a religieuse, which is a cream puff stack, just to make them cuter and more interesting. I would say eat these puffs as a way to start your day!

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For the candied bacon:
2 strips of bacon
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
a pinch of salt

Slice the bacon into thin, small strips, cutting along the width. In a nonstick pan on low heat, render out your bacon fat, reserving it for the craquelin and pate choux. Once the bacon is crispy, and the fat has been drained, add in the sugar, maple, and salt. Stir together on low heat until the sugar has melted and coated the bacon pieces. Transfer to a parchment sheet and allow the bacon to cool down, keeping the pieces separated so that they do not clump together.

For the craquelin:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Combine together to form a dough. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Roll out the dough between two parchment sheets to 1/8th an inch thickness. Cut out 4 2-inch circles and 4 1-inch circles out of the dough. Freeze the circles of dough until it is time to bake the pate choux dough.

For the pate choux:
2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon maple syrup
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg

In a pot, bring water, syrup, fat, and salt to a boil. Mix into that the flour to form a shiny dough. Transfer to a bowl and cool down the dough to room temperature. Whisk into the dough your egg to form a batter-like dough. Transfer into a piping bag. Pipe out four 1 1/2 inch rounds on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Also pipe out four 3/4 inch rounds as well. Place your craquelin dough disks on top of the puffs, the 2 inch circles on the 1 1/2 inch rounds, and the 1 inch on the 3/4 inch rounds. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, then lower the oven to 325 degrees F and continue baking for another 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, turn the oven off, and leave the door ajar for another 3 minutes before removing your puffs and allowing them to cool down completely.

For the lemon-blueberry coulis:
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
juice and zest from 2 lemons
a pinch of salt

Simmer down ingredients in a pot on low heat until the blueberries are completely broken down into a thickened juice, about 15 minutes of cooking. Pass this through a sieve, pressing the berries against the sieve to release as much blueberry juice as possible. Allow the strained liquid to cool down completely before transferring into a piping bag. Refrigerate the piping bag.

For the maple-brown sugar pastry cream:
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons chantilly cream

Heat up the milk with maple syrup. In a bowl, whisk your other ingredients, sans the chantilly cream. Pour half of the maple milk into the eggs while whisking. Pour your egg mixture back into the pot of milk and whisk on medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until thickened. Pass the pastry cream through a sieve into a bowl. Chill down the pastry cream base in a bowl, with cling wrap pressed against the surface of it, for 15 minutes. Fold the cream through the base and transfer into a piping bag.

For the chantilly cream:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip together your ingredients to stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag.

To garnish:
Blueberries

Toss some fresh blueberries into the coulis to glaze them. Poke holes into the bottoms of your puffs. With the larger puffs, pipe in your blueberry mixture first, then follow with the pastry cream. With the smaller, pipe in just the pastry cream. It’s okay if the bags smear on each other in this case. On top of the bigger puff, pipe on chantilly cream, then garnish the sides with the glazed blueberries and bacon candy. Place on top the smaller puffs, then dollop with the cream, another glazed blueberry, and more candied bacon to finish the puffs.

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