Recipe - Key Lime Cream Puffs (Citrus Choux Buns)

I like to make a special dessert for my friend's and family member's birthdays, to be honest it's a really good reason to get me baking again. After a year or so of spending all my weeknights baking for a local cafe for next to no profit I was a bit tired and gave it a bit of a break. Thankfully I've started to really enjoy it again so hopefully there will be a few more recipes up for you to try over the next few months!

My boyfriend Pete's mum is a really good cook, in fact she was a cookery teacher at one point, so the pressure is always on when cooking for her! I decided not to go for a birthday cake this year and combine two of her favourite desserts - key lime pie and whipped cream filled choux buns. They came out really well and looked so pretty towered up on a platter drizzled with white chocolate and sprinkled with edible glitter.

I'd not made choux pastry for a really long time so was a little nervous at how they'd turn out, especially in this heat wave that we're having, but they turned out great and puffed up much more than I thought they would! I had planned to use condensed milk in the filling as you would when making a real key lime pie, but unfortunately our food delivery went slightly wrong and I ended up with evaporated milk instead which is not at all the right thing! Thankfully I have some lemon curd in the fridge so use that to add the thick silkiness and stability to the cream and it worked out great.

One important thing to remember is that you need to cool these completely in the oven with the door slightly ajar so I'd recommend baking them in the evening and letting them cool overnight as I did - don't forget to poke holes in them too or they'll go all soggy!

Key Lime Cream Puffs (Citrus Choux Buns)
Makes 12 large pastries

130g plain flour
1 tsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
115g unsalted butter, softened
240ml water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
600ml double cream
juice and zest of three limes
8 tbsp lemon curd (or to taste)
100g white chocolate
edible glitter (if you fancy it)

Pre-heat the oven to 200 C / 400 F and line two trays with baking paper. Sift together the flour, sugar and saly and set to one side.

Get a large saucepan (heavy bottomed if poss) and set it over a medium high heat adding the water and softened butter and bring to the boil - the butter needs to be softened so it melts before the water boils and you don't lose too much of the mixture to evaporation. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour, mixing well until it is properly combined. Pop back on the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring regularly until the mix forms a smooth ball and comes away from the pan.

Transfer the mixture to your freestanding mixer bowl or into a cake mix bowl and beat for several minutes letting the steam escape and until it is lukewarm in temperature. Now add the beaten eggs and mix again - it will split but persevere, I promise it will come back together into a thick pasty dough.

Spoon (or pipe) twelve mounds of the mixture on to the baking trays leaving at least two inches between them so they have room to puff up then pop them in the oven. After 15 minutes reduce the heat to 180 C / 350 F and cook for a further 30-40 minutes or until they are a nice golden amber colour and are almost completely dry inside when cut open - I just grab one and slit it open to test this. When they are done poke a few holes in each one with a knife and leave to cool completely in the oven with its door slightly ajar. When the are completely cool you can fill them!

To do this whip your double cream to stiff peaks, then add the zest and juice of the limes along with the lemon curd - this is to taste really so add a little at a time until you have a flavour you like. Now split your choux buns in half and fill them generously with the cream filling - you may have a bit left over which you must then eat as the cooks treat, oh no.

Pile your buns up on a plate and drizzle with the melted white chocolate. If you're feeling fancy you can throw on some edible glitter or sprinkles of some sort. It never hurts to be fancy.