Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Note: From Sebastien Rouxel, executive pastry chef at Bouchon Bakery and Per Se
Pastry cream 1/2 vanilla bean
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cold butter, cut up
1. Scrape the seeds from the split vanilla bean into milk in a saucepan. Heat the milk just to a simmer.
2. Whisk the sugar into the egg yolks and beat until pale yellow and a thick ribbon consistency. Whisk in the flour.
3. Add a little of the hot milk to the egg mixture to temper, then stir in remaining hot milk.
4. Strain the hot milk mixture back into a saucepan and return to heat. Heat and stir to boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer about 1 minute or until the pastry cream is shiny and thick.
5. Transfer the hot pastry cream to a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed, adding 1 tablespoon cold butter bit by bit until the custard is cooled. Cover tightly and chill until cold.
Pâte à choux
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 1/3cups flour
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring 1 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons water, the salt, sugar and butter to a boil over medium high heat.
2. Remove from heat and stir the flour in all at once. Mix well and put back on the stove over high heat. Cook and stir to dry out the paste, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Transfer the paste to a bowl and let it cool at least 5 minutes.
4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg is added so it is completely mixed in.
5. Pipe 5- to 6-inch lengths of paste, using a half-inch tip, onto parchment-lined sheet trays. Bake about 30 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
Chantilly cream and assembly
3 cups cold crème fraîche
9 tablespoons sugar
1 vanilla bean, split in half
1. When ready to assemble, combine the crème fraîche and sugar. With the tip of a knife, scrape out the seeds from the vanilla into the crème fraîche. Beat to firm peaks, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.
2. Slice one-third horizontally off the top of each choux pastry. Set aside the top parts. Pipe the pastry cream into the bottom of the shells using a small, plain tip. Then, pipe in the Chantilly cream using a medium French (fluted) tip.
3. Cut thin strips from the pastry tops and place one strip on top of the Chantilly cream on each filled pastry shell.
Each serving: 260 calories; 5 grams protein; 25 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 16 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 145 mg. cholesterol; 78 mg. sodium.