Saturday, January 02, 2010

Cream Puff Swans

These Swans are made from Choux Paste which is also known as 'pate a choux' of which the French term means 'cabbage paste', so deemed because of the cabbage-like appearance of small cream puffs.  There are two schools of thought when baking with choux paste. 

One method is to bake the dough at an extremely high temperature, approximately 425f(219c) for a short period of time to cause steam to form quickly and then lower the temperature to approximately 375f(190c) to finish the baking process.  This causes the egg protein to coagulate and form a set structure.

The other method starts the baking process at a low temperature, approximately 300f(149c).  Once the choux paste is in the oven, the temperature is raised immediately to a high temperature of approximately 450f(230c).  Steam quickly forms, and the puffs rise.  After approximately 10 - 15 minutes, the temperature is turned back down to 300f(149c) to dry the puffs and brown them.  Starting at lower temperature gives the dough time to rise higher before the egg proteins actually set and a hard outer crust forms.  This method is used to bake the Swans as great volume is obtained by starting the baking process at a lower temperature, which allows the puffs to rise higher before they become set and form a crust..

A high-protein/bread  flour is used to give structure to the puffs, while whole eggs leaven and add structure, and egg whites are added for crispness and lightness.

A point to remember - choux paste must be baked until golden brown and crisp or else it will soften and collapse once it is cooled.


To make the Choux paste:

6 fl oz/3/4 cup/180 ml water
4 ozs/1/2 cup/115g unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
5 ozs/1 cup/140 g bread flour
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites

Stabilized whipped cream

1/4 fl oz/1 1/2 tbsp/22 ml cold water
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
12 fl oz/1 1/2 cups/360 ml cold heavy cream
3 ozs/1/4 cup/100 gm confectioner's sugar, sifted(more for dusting)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


To make the Choux paste:

In a medium saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a vigorous boil.  Remove saucepan from heat.  Add the flour all at once and stir mixture quickly with a wooden spoon.  This will cause a ball of dough to form immediately. Continue to cook the mixture for approximately one minute until it forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes to approximately 130f(54c) to prevent the eggs from cooking as they are added to the mixture.

Transfer the dough into the bowl of an electric mixer.  Using the paddle attachment, mix the dough on low speed.  Add 2 whole eggs, one at a time, blending well after adding each egg.  Then add 2 egg whites, one at a time, blending well after each addition.  The dough should hold its shape somewhat and should not be too loose.  The color of the dough should be yellowish from the butter and eggs, and it should look glossy.

Creating the swan's body:

Preheat the oven to 300f(149c)

Place all but 3 ozs(1/3 cup, 105 g) of the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (approximately 14 mm).  Hold the pastry bag at 90 degrees to a parchment-lined sheet pan and pipe out a 2 1/2 inch(6 1/4 cm) long shell making an up and over motion.  Pull back so that the end is tapered.

Continue to make approximately 12 more tapered shells leaving a space between each swan body.

Creating the swan's neck and head:

Place the remaining dough into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip(approximately 1/8 inch, 3 mm).  Pipe a small round ball(the head) and then continue to form a thin letter S (the neck) on a second sheet pan covered with parchment paper.  Place the tip into the round ball(the head) and squeezing gently, quickly pull back to form the swan's beak.  Repeat the procedure until there are as many swan necks as there are bodies (make  extra in case of breakage).

Place the sheet pans in the oven at 300f(149c).  Close the oven door and raise the oven temperature to 450f(230c).  Bake for 10 - 15 minutes until well puffed.  Turn the oven down to 300f(149c) and bake for another 15 - 20 minutes until crisp and browned.  Cut open one of the puffs to see if it is dry inside.  If not, continue baking.

Remove from the oven and with a small, sharp knife, poke a small hole into each puffs.  This helps dry out the moist inside of each puff and allows them to cool faster. 

Because the Swan necks are thinner, they need to be baked at a lower temperature of 375f(190c) for 8 - 10 minutes or until they are a pale brown and firm to the touch.  Remove and allow to cool.

To Make the Filling:

In a small heatproof, sprinkle the gelatin over the water.  Stir and allow it to soften for 5 minutes.

Melt the gelatin over a hot water bath until it is completely liquefied.  Remove the gelatin from the heat and whisk 1/2  fl ozs(1 tbsp) heavy cream into the gelatin to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, use the whip attachment to beat the remaining heavy cream until it forms soft peaks.

Gradually add the confectioners' sugar and then the melted gelatin and cream mixture along with the vanilla extract.  Beat until stiff peaks form.  Do not overbeat.

To assemble the Swans:

Cut each cooled swan body in half crosswise.  Cut the top portion of the body lengthwise to form two wings.  Leave the bottom half intact.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a large round or star tip, pipe the whipped cream into the bottom of the swan body.  Gently insert a wing into the cream on either side.

Insert a neck into the cream.  Repeat with the remaining swans. 

Dust the swans with confectioners'  sugar before serving.

Cream puff Swans should be refrigerated.  They are best consumed the same day they are prepared, if they need to be stored overnight, do not insert the necks into the bodies until right before serving as refrigeration for over 4 hours softens them.. Leave the necks at room temperature covered in an airtight container.

Recipe adapted from Gail Sokol - About Professional Baking The Essentials.



SeaDragon said...

Happy new year! Your choux swans look beautiful! This is also on my to do list for the past few months, wanting to try the milk version of choux pastry, but still haven't got round to it.

Quinn said...

Your swans look so alive! Great job!!!

MaryMoh said...

What a beautiuful pair of romantic swans to start off the new year! These would be perfect for Valentine's Day next month. Thanks for sharing.

Zoe said...

Wow. Your Swan Puffs are beautiful. I love eating these Puffs, but they are so not easy to make. You are a professional baker.

Happy New Year.


lilyng said...


use 1/2 milk and 1/2 water, the puffs will brown better

Anonymous said...

Dear Aunt Lily,

That is a great masterpiece. I was wondering if you know how to make fah sang koh (kuih peanut). I have been trying to find the recipe but no luck yet. I grew up in KL and remember eating them when my mum bought it for us from the CHinese kuih stall at night in front of Jalan Pudu bus station. It has the texture of kuih lompang but tasted like peanut. Was wondering if you have any idea of what I am talking about. Thanks for your help!

Tuty said...

Happy New Year!!! Your swans look so beautiful. Thank you for the tip on baking at lower temp first... I had never been aware of this trick. I never made swans.. just plain cream puffs :-)

I will make a note to revisit this post when I make my next cream puffs.

Cheers to good health and prosperous year.

lilyng said...


i have not eaten this fah sang koh but if it like kuih lompang, i think i know how to come up with a recipe and try it out.

Anonymous said...

Dear Aunt Lily,

Thank you so much for taking the time to try out the recipe. My sis and I will be most thankful if you can come up with the fah sang koh recipe. We have been craving it for years. Best of luck in your trial. I can't wait for the recipe.

Love, Reese

lilyng said...


have you and your sister eaten a kuih called "kuih koleh"?. It is made with green pea flour and it taste very similar to the taste of 'fah sang'.

Anonymous said...

DeaR aUNT Lily,

No, I dont recall eating Kuih Koleh. Do you think that can be what I had described to you?


Anonymous said...

Dear Aunt Lily,

I went on google to look at the images of Kuih Koleh. It is definitely not the fah sang koh I know from my childhood.The seller make it like a small kuih lompang and it is extremely peanuty, topped with grated coconut, like most of the Malaysian dessert.


lilyng said...


like i told you, somehow i missed eating this fah sang koh which is like kuih lompang and has coconut on it. Would it be it if i make kuih lompang and add in peanut butter? Any malaysian readers, please help.

Anonymous said...

Dear Aunt Lily,

I asked around and a friend of mine here in Boston, who is also Malaysian said she had had the fa sang ko before. The only problem is that she remembered the kuih cos her parents got it from the same place as mine did in Pudu, KL!I'll try to ask my cousin to take a pic of it whenever he goes there for kuih again and I will try to send the pics to you. Thanks so much for your help.


Blessed Homemaker said...

This is a great art piece!

Anonymous said...

Dear Aunt Lily,

My mum just arrived to Boston from Malaysia last night and she brought us some of the fah sang ko I was telling you about. It was delicious. Mum said that is the only stall in KL she knows of who sells the kuih, so it may be their own recipe.


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