Serves: Makes 20 cream puffs
- 2¼ cups (18 ounces) heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup (1 ounce) roasted cocoa nibs
- 1 recipe Chocolate Pâte à Choux
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (1 ounce) granulated sugar
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- 1 recipe Dark Chocolate Sauce, for serving
- Prepare the cocoa nib cream: Heat the cream and cocoa nibs in the small saucepan over medium heat until the cream begins to boil. Immediately remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes. (Set a timer for this; if the nibs are left in the cream for too long, it will become very bitter.) Strain through the strainer into the heatproof bowl (or storage container), pressing firmly on the nibs with the spatula to release as much cream as possible. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
- To make the templates, line the baking sheets with parchment paper, then remove the paper and use the biscuit cutter or another 2½-inch template as a guide and draw twenty 2½-inch circles, dividing and spacing them evenly between the sheets. Turn the pieces of parchment paper over and return to the sheets so that the marks are facing the sheets. Preheat the oven to 400°F and position two racks in the top and lower thirds of the oven.
- Pipe the Pâte à Choux: Spoon the dough into the pastry bag fitted with the ½-inch plain tip. Pipe the dough into ½- to ¾-inch-high circles to fill each template. (To stop the flow of dough from the pastry bag and disconnect it from the piped dough, slice a lightly oiled dinner knife across the opening of the tip.)
- Glaze and bake the pÃ¢te Ã choux: In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg to blend thoroughly. Brush a light coating of egg over the tops of the piped dough, being careful that the egg does not drip down the sides (it will glue the puffs to the parchment). You will not use all the egg. Bake both sheets of the puffs for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, switch the sheets between the racks, rotate the pans from front to back, and bake for 20 minutes longer. Reduce the temperature again, to 300°F, and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer (to dry out the interior). The cream puffs should be a deep golden brown, with no bubbling moisture visible around the sides. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- Whip the cream: Pour the infused cream into the bowl of the stand mixer (or into the medium bowl if using the hand mixer). Add the granulated sugar and whip until firm peaks form. Refrigerate until needed.
- Fill the cream puffs: Use the serrated knife to slice each puff in half across its equator. Spoon the cocoa nib cream into the cleaned and dried pastry bag fitted with the ½-inch star tip. Pipe the cream in a circular motion in the bottom of each cream puff, making a couple of swirls, until the cream is about 1½ inches high. Place the cream puff lid on top. Repeat until all the cream puffs are filled. Refrigerate until needed.
- The puffs are at their best the same day they are filled. Spoon some chocolate sauce onto each plate. Dust the top of the cream puffs with confectioners' sugar. Transfer a cream puff to each plate. Alternately, put them all on a platter and let guests help themselves, serving the sauce in a pitcher on the side. Serve immediately.
Storing: Keep filled cream puffs in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days. They are at their best the same day they are filled, as the whipped cream begins to break down and the pastry absorbs its moisture and eventually becomes soggy.