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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

COOK'S CORNER: Treat for Two




Feb. 14, 1994. I'll always remember that Valentine's Day because it marked the first and last time my husband ever cooked dinner for me. He put his all into setting the mood - roses, champagne, candles in the shape of a giant heart - and then he kind of fizzled when it came to dinner.


He made a Caesar salad and put it in the fridge, then spent two hours on pasta. After a very soggy salad and pasta, I helped him put berries on the Sara Lee poundcake. The romance was not in the meal, but in the effort.


We've since agreed that it is neither romantic nor fun to slave in the kitchen on Valentine's Day. One feels more sweaty than sexy waiting for a wine sauce to reduce. However, since Valentine's is about doing something sweet for the one you love, preparing a red-and-white dessert with whipping cream (and a little imagination) is pretty seductive stuff in our book.


These Valentine's Cream Puffs can be made ahead of time, meaning you spend more time seducing than stirring. I fill the puffs about 30 minutes ahead of serving and pop them in the freezer. The whipped cream becomes more like ice cream and is wonderful topped with the tart strawberry/raspberry puree.


Valentine's Cream Puffs


180 ml water


45 ml butter, cut into pieces


2 ml salt


2 ml sugar


180 ml flour


3 large eggs


Filling


250 ml chilled whipping cream


5 ml sugar


2 ml vanilla extract


Berry Sauce


250 ml frozen strawberries


150 ml frozen raspberries


30 ml sugar


For cream puffs: Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease baking sheet. Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring to melt butter. Add flour; stir vigorously until mixture clumps together, forming ball. Stir 1 minute longer. Remove from heat. Transfer dough to medium bowl. Using electric mixer, add eggs one at time, beating until dough is smooth after each addition.


Use 1 rounded tablespoon of dough for each puff; spoon it onto prepared baking sheet, spacing about 5 cm apart and forming mounds slightly larger than a golf ball. With moist fingertips, gently press tops of puffs to flatten any peaks. Bake until golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to rack; let cream puffs cool. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)


For filling: Beat cream, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl until stiff peaks form.


For sauce: Puree berries in blender or food processor. Transfer to bowl. Stir in sugar.


Cut top third off each puff. Place bottoms, cut side up, on plates. Spoon whipped cream into bottoms, mounding slightly (at this point, you can put puffs into freezer for 30 minutes). To serve, ladle berry sauce over, allowing sauce to spill onto plates. Top with cream puff tops.