High Country Baking: Blackberry Puffs
May 29, 2012
Freshly made fruit preserves tucked between a delicate pastry shell – that’s all there is to these blackberry puffs. That very simplicity is what makes them so appealing. Sweet dough, enriched with cream cheese and butter, cradles a tasty blackberry filling and the results are a delightful harmony of taste and texture and a fine example of wholesome American baking. They’re just plain good.
I usually serve the puffs warm, for dessert; sometimes I fancy them up by surrounding them with a pool of vanilla sauce or creme anglais and/or topping them with a drizzle of blueberry sauce. But, they can also be eaten out-of-hand at room temperature, so consider inviting them to a picnic or other casual events. And, don’t eliminate them from the breakfast table, they are only mildly sweet and would rival many of the pastries often served in the morning.
Vera Dawson, chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com
Makes 8-10 three-inch puffs
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
Pinch of salt
8 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter (one stick)
8 ounces of cold cream cheese (don’t use fat free)
1/4 of a large Golden Delicious Apple
1/2 cup of blackberries
2 teaspoons of flour
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
plus additional for sprinkling
01 Make the pastry dough: Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend thoroughly. Cut the butter and the cream cheese into half-inch pieces. Add the butter to the processor bowl and pulse until the mixture looks like bread crumbs. Add the cream cheese and pulse until the mixture forms large, shaggy clumps and there are no dry ingredients at the bottom of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of waxed paper and gently knead it a few times until it comes together. Form the dough into a six-inch disc, wrap it in the waxed paper and refrigerate until the dough is firm (at least 30 minutes).
02 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the center position. Make the filling: Peel the fourth of an apple (save the rest for another purpose) and coarsely grate it. Combine the grated apple with the blackberries, the flour and the sugar in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, over moderate heat, until the berries release their juices and break down, and the mixture thickens and begins to boil – you’ll have created a chunky blackberry preserve. Remove it from the heat, taste for sweetness (if your berries aren’t ripe, you may want to add more sugar), scrape it into a shallow bowl and let it cool.
03 Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it to a thickness of one-eighth of an inch (I do this between sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap). Using a three-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into 16-20 circles. If the dough gets soft and sticky, put it in the freezer to firm up whenever necessary. (This will make it easier to work with.
04 Make the wash: Gently whisk the egg and use it to lightly coat one side of each of the dough circles. Cut a hole in the middle of half of the circles, creating a vent from which steam can escape while baking. Spoon about two rounded teaspoons of the filling in the middle of the remaining circles. Place the cut-out dough circles on top of the filled ones, egg-wash side down. Press a fork around the edges of the two circles, sealing them together. If the fork sticks to the dough while doing this, dip it in flour. Check to make sure all are well-sealed. Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle granulated sugar over them. Use a metal spatula to gently transfer the puffs to the lined baking sheet, spacing them about an inch-and-a-half apart.
05 Bake until the filling is hot (it may bubble) and the tops are golden and slightly puffed (15-20 minutes in my oven). Remove to a rack. Cool for a few minutes and serve or cool completely and reheat in a 325-degree oven before serving.