It’s been a few months since Boyfriend has taken me out on a fancy date so when our friend told us he was visiting and taking us out to an extravagant dinner at Eleven Madison Park, I was overjoyed at the opportunity to get all dolled up.
Now, I love fancy. Fancy clothes, fancy gadgets, fancy furniture. But I just don’t love fancy food. I have the palate of a 4 year-old. I don’t really care for any kind of seafood or most meats or most vegetables for that matter. So when I heard that dinner was a 16-course menu based on seasonal ingredients (and the whim of the chef), I suspected that I might be a problematic dining companion. I was told that the restaurant would accommodate my preferences, so I happily gave them a ring to inform them of my picky palate.
“Are there any dietary restrictions or preferences that we should know about?”
“Yes. No seafood of any kind. No lamb, no eggplant, no duck.”
I then had to specify that indeed, as I do not eat duck, I would not eat foie gras. You’d think that would be fairly obvious, but when you’re talking about a place as ritzy as Eleven Madison Park, they must see turning down foie gras as either sacrilege or sheer lunacy.
When our big night arrived, I put on my poshest outfit and steeled myself for what would likely be a slightly uncomfortable but wildly exciting culinary experience. Our waiter (or should I say, one of our 5 waiters) came over to confirm our preferences (or really, my distaste for most foods) and to explain that as a table we had a choice of entree, but since Miss Picky Pants (me) doesn’t eat super fancy roast duck, we all were going to have to deal with plain ole beef. (Mind you, it was 140 day aged beef.) Despite the fact that we were still eating the most ridiculously fancy beef we’ll ever eat, I was mortified that not only was I the pickiest person imaginable but that my pickiness was now directly affecting the experience of my fellow diners. My shame subsided pretty soon after the waiter placed a bowl in front of me filled with 2 spoonfuls of “bell pepper snow with charred pickled corn and tarragon.” Let the wild adventure begin.
As each course came out, we tried to decide where it fell on the scale of culinary insanity. Generally, it was a toss up for best course so far. Sassafras sorbet with banana cake, caramel, and vanilla or the red pepper cheesecake with strawberry and cashew? Who knows which of the 4 dessert courses was most extravagant or bold? But as they placed a full bottle of pear brandy on our table and handed us an exorbitantly high check, we decided that, after a 5-hour marathon of excitement and outrageously highbrow food, it was time to go home.
Inspired by our culinary adventures, I decided to make the (easiest) ritziest thing I could think of: rose cream puffs. These are fairly straightforward to make and the touch of rose really kicks it up one fancy notch. Sometimes a girl just needs a excuse to dress up and if you don’t have an excuse, then why not make some rose cream puffs…in your fanciest outfit.
Rose Cream Puffs
and pastry cream adapted from
- 2 large eggs and 1 large egg white
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
- 2 tbsp whole milk
- 6 tbsp water
- 1 ½ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup all purpose flour
Rose Pastry Cream Ingredients
- 1 ¼ cups milk
- 1 tablespoon rose extract
- 3 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup granulated white sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- To make the puff pastry dough: Whisk the eggs and egg white in a liquid measuring cup and set aside.
- Combine the butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring once or twice. When the mixture reaches a full boil, remove from the heat and stir in the flour until it’s incorporated. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a spatula, using a smearing motion until the mixture is shiny, looks wet, and tiny beads of fat form on the bottom of the pan.
- Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and run on low speed for 30 seconds to cool the dough. With the machine running, gradually add the reserved eggs in a steady stream. Once added, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until a smooth, thick, sticky paste forms.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill a pastry bag filled with a large round tip with the puff pastry dough. Pipe the paste into 1-1/2” mounds on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1-1/4” apart. Use the back of a teaspoon dipped in water to even out the shape and smooth the surfaces of the mounds.
- Bake for 12 minutes, then reduce the oven to 375 degrees and continue to bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes longer (keep an eye on this since timing depends on your oven). Let the puffs cool after taking them out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the pastry cream: In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together. (Don’t let the mixture sit too long or you will get pieces of egg forming.) Sift the flour and cornstarch (corn flour) together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the milk just to boiling (just until milk starts to foam up). Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking furiously to prevent curdling. Then pour the egg mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. Stir in extract. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 - 60 seconds until it becomes thick (if you’re whisking, you may not see boiling. If so, just look for when it gets noticeably thick or the consistency of a thick yogurt). Remove from heat. Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature.
- Filling the puffs with cream: There’s a few ways to fill your puffs. My preferred method is to find the natural folds towards the top of the puff and cut a small opening into the fold. Then, fill a pastry bag with the pastry cream and pipe cream into opening of each puff, until it starts to ooze back out. Repeat to fill all the puffs. Enjoy!