Bite-size tarts and cream puffs make ideal inexpensive party desserts. Buy ready-made mini sweet pastry cases for speed or you can make your own if you have time. The toffee nut filling is very quick to make using just butter, brown sugar and golden syrup. We’ve used pecan nuts but a mixture of almonds, hazelnuts and pecans also works well. The cream puffs are made from choux pastry and filled with vanilla flavoured cream. The puffs can be made in advance and frozen and then warmed in the oven on the day to refresh and crisp up. Top with a drizzle of chocolate sauce if liked to make profiteroles.
- Cream puffs:
- 65g plain flour
- 50g butter
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 6 sugar cubes, crushed
- 200ml double cream
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- Icing sugar, to dust
- Toffee nut tarts:
- 50g butter
- 4tbsp light muscovado sugar
- 2tbsp golden syrup
- 100g pecan nuts, chopped
- 1tsp lemon juice
- 12 ready baked mini sweet pastry cases
To make the cream puffs, preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Fan 200°C/Gas Mark 7 and line two baking sheets with baking paper. Sift the flour onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Place the butter in a pan with 150ml water and a pinch of salt. Heat gently until the butter has melted then increase the heat and bring to the boil.
Tip in all the flour into the boiling liquid and quickly beat with a wooden spoon over a low heat for 1 min until the mixture forms a ball and leaves the sides of the pan clean. Allow to cool for 5 mins.
Gradually add the beaten eggs, beating well between each addition, until smooth and glossy. Place teaspoonfuls of mixture on the lined baking sheets, allowing space between each one, and sprinkle with a little crushed sugar. Bake in the oven for 10-15 mins until well risen, golden and crisp. Cut a slit in the side of each bun to allow steam to escape and return to the turned off oven for 5 mins. Allow to cool.
Whip the cream with the vanilla until just thick enough to form soft peaks. Spoon a little cream inside each bun through the slit made earlier and dust with icing sugar. Serve within 30 mins of filling.
For the toffee nut tarts, melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a small pan. Boil for 1 min then stir in the nuts and lemon juice. Spoon into the pastry cases and leave to cool.
You can flavour the cream for the cream puffs with lemon curd, omit the vanilla and fold 2tbsp lemon curd into the whipped cream.