Honey Fig St Honore

2 Aug 2017

Reading: A Secret Life by Stephen Dunn
The secret life
begins early, is kept alive
by all that's unpopular
in you, all that you know
a Baptist, say, or some other
accountant would object to.
It becomes what you'd most protect
if the government said you can protect
one thing, all else is ours.
When you write late at night
it's like a small fire
in a clearing, it's what
radiates and what can hurt
if you get too close to it.

Listening: Love Does by Bob Goff

We are coming off the heels of our first family vacation as 3 from a week in and about coastal Maine. It is difficult to express just how much I needed to not have an agenda for the day and be in awe of something beautiful, Maine delivered that and then some. Also, much more, I needed time with my boys to just be. Life moves so fast and being a person with a rather sensitive constitution, I don't believe I will ever enjoy it (although I will try to try).

Ironically, as much as I would like all of my time to be my own, I have a hard time knowing what to do with myself when it is not siphoned into little buckets. So often on vacation, I unknowingly press to be on the go continuously as to be sure not to miss anything and "maximize" my freedom. I have since realized this ridiculous impulse and I think I did much better going with the flow. We still planned, because I hate the constant - "What do you want to do? I don't know, what do you want to do?" - banter, but it was tempered and balanced.

We spent most of our time meandering along Maine's rocky coast hiking and breathing in salty air. We saw our first bog and conclusion, decay is beautiful and it was eerily silent. In fact, most places we ventured were enveloped in true silence and I didn't even realize how noisy (literal and otherwise) my life is without any participation from me. I will hopefully post more about the trip later in the form of a rough travel guide, but let's get to this recipe.

For some reason, I came home ready for a baking challenge. I had been dancing around this idea of the St. Honore from one of my pastry textbooks and just hadn't had the will to try. I am not going to sugar coat it - this one took some time - from start to finish perhaps 3-4 hours. It's a special dessert and a French classic and while all of the parts are relatively simple, there are just a lot of steps.

This dessert has a lot of variations, but it is more or less a base of puff pastry or pate brisse with a circle of cream puffs. The center is then filled with cream or mousse. It is fig season here, so I chose to fill it with orange fig jam, honey cream and vanilla creme diplomat (pastry cream and cream chantilly combined). Aside from the time, it was a fun challenge and a bit different than desserts I make traditionally. So if you are up for testing your baking skills, this is your chance.

Honey Fig St Honore

Recipe for St. Honore filled with honey cream, fig jam and vanilla crème diplomat

Honey Fig St Honore

Prep time: - Cook time: - Total time:
Yield: 6-8S


Pate Brisee
- 1 3/4 cup + 1T (200g) pastry flour
- 1/2 t salt
- 3/4 t sugar
- 7 T (100g) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 egg
- 2 t water
- 1 t vanilla
- 3/4 t lemon zest

Pate A Choux
- 9 oz water
- 9 oz whole milk
- 19 T unsalted butter (2 sticks + 3 T)
- 1 t salt
- 3 cups + 2 t (375 g) bread flour
- 10 eggs or 2 1/2 cups(you may not use all)

Egg Wash
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- 1/4 t sugar
- 1/4 t salt
- 2 t water

- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup (2oz) water
- 1 1/2 T light corn syrup

Vanilla Creme Diplomat
- 1 cup (8oz) milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean scrapping (or 2 t vanilla extract)
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 T sugar
- 1/4 cup cake flour
- 2 T (15 g) cornstarch
- 1/8 cup (1oz) orange liqueur (Grand Marnier or Cointreau)
- All Creme Chantilly (recipe below)

Creme Chantilly
- 16 oz (500g) creme fraiche or heavy whipping cream
- 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean scraping (or 2 t vanilla extract)

- 1 cup honey cream
- 1 cup orange fig jam


Pate Brisee
Sift together flour, salt and sugar.
Drop cubes of butter into flour mixture and rub together until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
Mix egg, water, vanilla and lemon zest together, then make a well in the center of the flour crumbs and pour egg mixture into the well.
Mix all together until a soft dough forms.
Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead just until smooth.
Flatten into a disc and cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Begin Pate A Choux.

Pate A Choux
Combine water, milk, butter and salt in a heavy bottom pot (ie. dutch oven) and bring to a boil.
Add flour all at once and stir quickly over medium heat until dough forms and mixture pulls away from sides.
Remove dough from pot and put into mixing bowl fitted with paddle attachement and mix until the temperature of the dough reaches a temperature somewhere between 110F - 140F.
Then whisk together all the eggs and beat a little bit into the dough at a time. The small increments are important because you may not use all of the egg.
You will know that enough egg has been added when the mixture comes together and it is moist, but still holds its form (photos for reference below).
Set aside for next step.
(Stages of dough texture)

Pastry Assembly (Pate Brisee and Pate A Choux)
Preheat oven to 375F.
Mix together all of the ingredients for the egg wash and have a brush ready, then set aside.
Remove the pate brisee from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface to an 8 inch diameter and 1/8 inch thickness.
Place onto a buttered cookie sheet.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip with the pate a choux.
Brush the pate brisee with egg wash and pipe a 1 inch circle of pate a choux along the outer edge (see photo).
Then in the center of the pate brisee, pipe a small spiral (see photo).
Place in oven for about 20-30 minutes or until the Pate a Choux is golden and sounds slightly hollow.

Then on a separate parchment lined baking sheet, use the rest of the pate a choux and pipe 3/4 inch bulbs, then brush with egg wash.
When the pate brisee is done, turn the oven up to 400F and stick in the Pate a Choux puffs.
Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate pan and bake another 10 minutes - they should sound hollow and be golden.
When you remove the puffs, poke a small hole in the bottom to release steam.

This amount of pate a choux will make a lot of puffs, so you can adjust your cooking time after the first tray goes in if needed.
You will only need 12 - 14 puffs for the final assembly so pick out the best ones.
Once all puffs are done, you can wrap pastries and store if breaking up the recipe or begin making the Vanilla Creme Diplomat if you are doing it all at once.

Vanilla Creme Diplomat
Heat milk and vanilla bean scraping until just boiled, then turn off heat.
Mix together eggs and sugar until pale using paddle attachment.
Then mix in flour and cornstarch.
Temper the eggs by adding a little bit of the hot milk into the eggs while the mixer is running on low, do this slowly until about half of the milk has been added to the eggs.

Then pour the egg mixture back into the pan with the remaining hot milk and place back on the stove over medium-low/low heat.
This step is tricky because you have to stir constantly while bringing to a boil, without overheating and allowing it to become chunky (photo of texture below).
Remove from heat and stir in liqueur, then place in fridge until pastry cream is cold.

Once completely chilled, beat until smooth and then prepare the creme chantilly.
For creme chantilly, whip creme fraiche or heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form, then add sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form.
Fold the pastry cream into creme chantilly and place back in the fridge until ready.
(Pastry Cream texture before when done on stove)

Final Assembly
Next take some of the chilled vanilla creme diplomat and fill a pastry bag fitted with a filling tip (long and narrow).
Fill about 14 of your nicest looking puffs through the same hole in the bottom you used to allow air to escape. It might take a few to get a feel for how full you should make them so practice on a few of the rejects.
Set puffs aside and make the caramel - put all ingredients in a smaller sauce pan and bring to boil, sugar mixture should turn a yellow, but don't burn or else you will have caramel sauce.

Next take an oiled marble slab, dip the top of each filled puff in the sugar syrup and lay down on marble (syrup side down).
Repeat until all 14 puffs are dipped (maybe do a few extra just in case)
Next prepare your pate brisee - pour the honey cream in the center and top with a layer of the fig jam.

Reheat your syrup, slide the puff off the marble and now dip the bottom of the puff in the syrup and "glue" to the outer ring of pate a choux of the pate brisee (see photo).
Repeat until the circle of puffs are complete.
Top the fig jam with a thin layer of the vanilla creme diplomat and then decorate the center as you wish. I finished the top by taking more of the vanilla creme in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip creating a design, then topping with a fresh fig.
Place entire dessert in the fridge to allow creme to completely set, if left at room temperature it will run.
(Filling tart to attaching cream puffs)

Then swig some orange liqueur and pat yourself on the back - you did it lol!



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