Tama's Petite Kahlua Cream Puffs with Dulce de Leche and Toasted Almonds

A small bite of tender pastry filled with sweet cream with a delicate coffee flavor. Dulce de leche and toasted almonds add richness and crunch.

Servings: about 35 petite puffs

Cook Time: 3 1/2 hours

Pair With: a glass of sparkling wine.

Source: Recipe and photo courtesy Tama Takahashi, Touring & Tasting Food Editor


Ingredients For the Kahlua Cream
14 ounces whipping cream, in two parts
1 vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup Kahlua

Ingredients For the Puffs Made with Pâte à Choux Dough
8 ounces milk
4 ounces butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces of bread flour
5 large eggs

Ingredients For the Dulce de Leche
1 cup milk
3 ounces sugar
pinch baking soda
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients For the Additional Topping Ingredients
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
confectioner's sugar


Directions For the Kahlua Cream
Have ready a large stainless steel bowl inside an even larger bowl containing ice, to chill the cream once it is cooked.

Heat 8 ounces of the whipping cream in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half, then split each half lengthwise and use the knife to scrape out the seeds. Stir the seeds into the half and half and let the mixture simmer for 3-5 minutes until the half and half infused with vanilla flavor. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar until smooth in a separate bowl. Gradually add the warm whipping cream in small batches, whisking between each addition. Scrape all the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium flame. Stir frequently and keep an eye on it because it will start to thicken suddenly. Stir continuously once it starts to thicken and add the Kahlua, blending it in.

Pour into the stainless steel bowl and stir while it chills. When it no longer steams, cover with plastic wrap, smoothing it to the surface to avoid a skin from forming. Place the inner bowl with the Kahlua cream into the refrigerator to chill. Can be kept overnight.

Right before you are ready to pipe the filling into the puffs, whip the remaining 6 ounces of whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks. Fold into the Kahlua cream. Use a pasty bag to pipe the filling into the puffs.

Directions For the Puffs Made with Pâte à Choux Dough
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, far enough in advance so the oven is fully to temperature by the time you are ready to bake--this is important! Have your flour pre-measured and next to the stove, along with the eggs. Have your paddle attachment on your stand mixer and the bowl ready for the dough. Put the milk, butter and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium to a rolling boil--it's important that the liquid is boiling vigorously!

Add the flour all at once and stir it in quickly. Stir continuously until well-mixed, then turn directly into the stand mixer bowl and mix on medium until the mixture stops steaming. Add the first egg and mix until incorporated. Continue with the rest of the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. At the end, the dough should be smooth, shiny and sticky.

Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and pipe small 1" rounds of dough onto them, using a pastry bag. Leave at least 1 1/2" between puffs, since they will rise. Minimize the time the oven door is open when you put the baking sheets into the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375. Bake until the puffs are golden brown. It's best to look through the oven window and not open the door to check them, if possible. When they are golden brown, turn the oven off and take them out. Make a small 1/2" slit in the bottom or side of each and return them to the oven. Let them sit in the oven, with the oven door ajar, so they dry out completely.

Directions For the Dulce de Leche
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk, sugar and baking soda over medium heat and bring to a low boil without stirring the ingredients. Watch it carefully--as soon as it starts to foam up, take it off the heat and stir it.

Put back on the stove and turn the heat to low and cook for 45 minutes or more, stirring often. The mixture will start to caramelize and turn a rich brown color. When the color is nice and the mixture thick, stir in the vanilla and remove from the heat.

Drizzle a bit of the dulche de leche on each mini puff. Top with some toasted almonds and confectioner's sugar, sifted through a strainer. Arrange on a large platter and enjoy with a sparkling wine.

Chef's Notes:

My inspiration for these little treats were some divine Italian pastries from Ca' Momi in the Oxbow Market in Napa. Mine use Kahlua in the filling and dulce de leche as icing.