Desserts · Pastry

Orange Cream Horns

Little unicorn horns dipped in chocolate and filled with an orange-scented custard, à la Paul Hollywood. # 170: Orange Cream Horns

If you need a smile during week 5 of quarantine (I know I do!) then go make these, STAT. It feels more like a crafty art project since you need to shape them onto molds and decorate them with chocolate and sugar. Plus, it looks like a herd of pastry unicorns donated their magical horns for your enjoyment. What could be better?

My sister got a cream horn at the Norwegian pavilion at Epcot a few years ago and let me have a bite, and I have to admit I was a tiny bit underwhelmed. There was no chocolate (boo) and the filling was just chantilly cream (whipped cream with vanilla and sugar). It was exactly what it was supposed to be – puff pastry baked in the shape of a horn and filled with cream – but I wanted something more!

I’ve been watching episodes of the Great (British) Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off from the last two years and these popped up as a technical challenge. They looked so much yummier than the bland version in my memory that I had to track down the recipe and make them for myself! Obviously, they had to be better – they involved chocolate.

The filling was an orange and ginger creme legere and I was intrigued by the new name for a custard-y cream. From a little online research, it looks like it’s also commonly called “diplomat cream.” The French name translates to “light cream,” which makes a lot of sense as it’s pastry cream that’s been mixed with chantilly cream. It makes a lighter, fluffier filling that still has the rich custard taste. *chef’s kiss*

I omitted the ginger but kept in the orange, because YUM. If I do them again, I want to coat the whole inside of the horn with melted chocolate, so the joy of the first few chocolaty bites can be continued through the whole pastry experience.

Went with Paul’s rough puff pastry to cut down on lamination turns. Bring it on!

A true butter crime scene. There’s no way around it, grating butter is a messy affair. No matter how long it’s been in the freezer, it’ll start to soften when you’re only half-way through. I had to pop it back in the freezer twice to keep it from just smearing softened butter all over the cheese grater. It was also the worst to clean. (Shout out to my tireless dish-washer, Nate!! Luckily for me, he trades baked goods for his services.)

Butter/flour sand. Good for pastry, bad for sandcastles.

It was supposed to be a rectangle and ended up more like Michigan.

Mozzarella cheese or grated butter? V confusing.

The pastry scraper was perfect for getting the two even folds. First third folded down over the middle, then the bottom third folded up and over. Like folding a 9×13″ piece of paper to put in an envelope!

In hindsight, better to roll it thinner. Ah well.

Much more rectangular on the second fill-and-fold.

All folded up and ready to chill. I’ve heard humming “Cool” from West Side Story helps.

Rolled, measured and sliced into ribbons. All we need now is a few molds!

The molds were a true pain in the butt. You know me and not wanting to buy single-use tools for the kitchen. There was no way it was worth me buying conical molds just for this one recipe, so I got creative with some foil and my straight cylinder molds. Those babies have come in handy with a few of my bakes (looking at you cannolis and chimney cakes!)

Safe to say, they weren’t perfect. The foil point that I made kept popping back into the cylinder when I pressed too hard, sigh. The ring of foil I used to help widen the mouth of the horn got baked into the puff pastry and was a pain to extract. Next time, definitely going to forget about the extra ring of foil – 100% not worth the effort it took to get them out. I could also just make schaumrolle in the future, which are an old Austrian version of the cream horn that doesn’t have a point. Maybe they only had straight cylindrical molds too! Work with what ya got.

Voila! A tiny Matterhorn.

Don’t mind me, amassing an army over here.

I did a quick egg wash and a sprinkle of crunchy sugar for some fun texture. The pastry itself was a little lumpier than I had wanted, so it didn’t have the smooth finish I was aiming for. C’est la vie.

But it was crisp and didn’t leak it’s butter out during baking so that’s lovely!

Pastry cream, my favorite science experiment. I just love how you can turn milk into a thick and luscious custard with just four ingredients and some heat.

Hot milk slowly added to whisked egg yolk, sugar and corn starch, then cooked over medium heat till thick and velvet-y. Stirring in the butter til it melts and letting it chill in the fridge until it’s time to dress it up for filling pastry! I’d like to go back and tell my past self that pastry cream is 90% easier than it looks and I’d get the hang of it eventually!

Chantilly cream, meet pastry cream.

Orange zest for a little flair!

Ready for piping! Try to not to eat the whole bowl while you’re waiting for the chocolate to set.

Ready, set, pipe!

Since they were baked lying down, one side will be flat and extra crisp. Yum.

Side note: I halved the filling in Paul’s recipe and it was the perfect amount! Can’t waste eggs when you’re only going to the store every 2.5 – 3 weeks, eek.

Happy munching!

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