This is the dessert I made for Mother’s Day. That I wanted to share before Mother’s Day so that I would be giving you a great Mother’s Day recipe. But… that was a bad week, kitchen wise, and I just wasn’t sure that it would be worth sharing.
In fact, even though it looked amazing, I was actually fairly certain that it would be a disaster when we tasted it. It was just that kind of week. I was so sure of this, that I made a second dessert – you know, for options – but mostly so there would still be dessert when the cream puff one was awful!
I’m happy to say that it was not awful. Obviously, or you wouldn’t be seeing it here. Either was the other dessert. So mostly it just made for a tough choice, which ended up being okay. Because when you have a choice between two desserts and can’t decide – you just have both. Obviously.
I’m glad I wasn’t alone in this decision – pretty much everyone there agreed that that was the right call, and there really weren’t a lot of leftovers. And before you judge us too harshly for that, there were 15 people there, so we had small slices of each!
This lemon strawberry cream puff cake was the winner though I think. It was absolutely divine. A giant cream puff shell, with a layer of sweet lemon curd spread on the bottom, filled with a sweet lemony cream cheese and whipped cream filling, and topped with sliced fresh strawberries. I was surprised at how good this was. Although really, I shouldn’t have been. A cream puff with lemon curd, whipped cream and strawberries? How bad could it be?
Not bad at all it turns out. In fact, pretty amazing. And an absolutely stunning looking dessert that tastes as great as it looks and is perfect for a special occasion. Or a Tuesday night. Your call!
For the lemon curd:
- 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
- zest of 2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch salt
For the cream puff:
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
For the cream filling:
- 4 ounces (125g) cream cheese, softened
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For the topping:
- 2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- Prepare the lemon curd. In a small bowl, whisk the 2 eggs and one egg yolk together, then whisk in the sugar until combined. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the lemon juice and zest until hot, but not boiling. Slowly pour the hot lemon juice into the egg mixture, whisking constantly while pouring. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick enough to cling to the back of the spoon, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter until combined. Stir in the cream, vanilla and salt. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl. Cover the lemon curd with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Make the cream puff. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease the sides and bottom of a 9 1/2 inch springform pan and set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring the butter, water and sugar to a boil. Add the flour all at once and stir the mixture quickly until it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and keep stirring until the mixture is smooth, then allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
- Using a handheld electric mixer, add the eggs, one at a time to the mixture and beat it until it is smooth and shiny. Spread the mixture in the bottom, and about an inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until it is golden brown and crisp to the touch. Take it out and poke it all over, 10-12 times, with a toothpick (there shouldn’t be a lot of sticky batter on the toothpick after poking the puff, if there is bake it a little longer). Then turn the oven off, put the cake back in the oven and prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Allow it to dry in the propped open oven for about 30-45 minutes. Take it out to cool completely, I removed it from the pan at this point and transferred it carefully to a cooling rack.
- Toss the strawberries together with the sugar in a bowl and place in the refrigerator until needed.
- Prepare the cream filling. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream cheese until it is smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar, and whip the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Add in the heavy cream, lemon zest and vanilla and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. At this point, if you’re not ready to assemble the cake you can keep the prepared cream in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.
- Assemble the cake. Spread the lemon curd over the bottom of the cream puff shell. Then spread the cream filling over top of the lemon curd, and pile the strawberries on top of the cream filling. Slice and serve!