These cute pastries are a standard fare on European style dessert buffets. At least they were when I was a culinary student in 1987. This realization prompted me to look into the prevalence of cream puff swans. Lo and behold! They’re everywhere! (At least on the internet.) It occurred to me that I don’t think I have ever seen them outside of culinary school. I am sure the only people making them were either classmates or students of mine.
Oh well. They are easy to make, and always result in a smile. If you serve them on a mirror they look like they’re swimming.
If swans need to be held for more than a few minutes, dip the bottom half of the neck in straight melted chocolate and let it harden before inserting it into the cream. The thin chocolate barrier will keep the pastry from getting soggy, which could cause the swan’s neck to flop over.
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Fit a pastry bag with a large star pastry tip. Fill bag with pâte a choux and pipe into 8 large tear-drop, or shell shapes. These will be the swan bodies. Reserve 1 cup of batter.
- Put reserved batter into a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip. On a separate baking sheet, pipe 8 large s-shapes. These will be the swan heads and necks. Brush with egg wash and bake. Remove necks when golden brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350˚F and continue cooking bodies for another 30-40 minutes, until dark golden brown. Cool completely.
- Cut the top third off each swan body, and set the top of the puff aside. Place a few sliced strawberries into the base of the swan body, then pipe or spoon whipped cream on top. Cut the top of the puff in half lengthwise, and insert upright into cream, forming the swan wings. Insert necks, and dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Black Swans: Fill the body with chocolate pastry cream or chocolate mousse, and dust with cocoa powder.