Filling Cream Puffs
There are two methods to choose from when filling generic cream puffs, but for croquembouch you must use #1. If you intend to make single puffs (a worthy endeavor in its own right) be sure to finish them off with either a coating of chocolate, a dusting of powdered sugar, or both (my preference). Start by melting 6-8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate over a double boiler (bain-marie), stirring occasionally until smooth. Keep warm. Place a fine mesh strainer on a plate, and fill the strainer with [1/2] cup powdered sugar. Set aside.
Method #1 – Injection!
Using the tip of a paring knife, make a tiny hole on the bottom of your cooked pate a choux puff. Fit a pastry bag with a small plain tip, and fill the bag with cooled pastry cream. Insert the tip into the hole, and squeeze in the cream until the puff feels full. Dip the top of the puff into the melted chocolate, place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and chill until chocolate is set. Finish with a dust of powdered sugar.
Method #2 – Off with its Head!
Slice off the top 3rd of your puff. Using a spoon, fill the bottom with pastry cream. Dip the top in chocolate, then place it back on the puff. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and chill until chocolate is set. Finish with a dust of powdered sugar.
You can also add a sweet surprise under the cream. Try a few raspberries, a dollop of ganache or caramel, or some candied nuts.