Cream horns. Everyone knows what those are, right?
I just have so many questions. Why the horn shape? Is it weird to eat? Do you eat it like an ice cream cone or like a sushi cone? Who thought of it? Especially because the shape requires a special mould. A special mould that I was convinced I’d have to go out and purchase because the DIY version I found online looked tedious.
That is until I commiserated with my friend and she said, “But you were going to use ice cream cones.”
“What?” I responded.
“Ice cream cones. You were going to wrap foil around them and use them as moulds. You saw it on Buzzfeed.”
“You did,” she patiently told me. I say “patiently” because I sat there staring at her blankly, not remembering any of this. She must have thought she was talking to an idiot. Who forgets their own genius DIY ideas (that are stolen from Buzzfeed)? This girl, apparently.
But alas, the cream horn assembly will have to wait a day. I decided to split this recipe into two nights. Night one: lemon curd. Night two: cream horns. Next morning: assembly of everything.
Okay, I lied. Two nights and one morning. This is only a two-spoon recipe but I’m in a still-recovering-from-vacation-with-the-whole-family state, so I’m taking it easy this week.
First up, the lemon curd.
I was out and about doing some grocery shopping when I went to Costco and saw their bag of nine lemons. I thought to myself, How many lemons does a lemon curd require? and then I decided that 9 is probably too many lemons.
I went to the grocery store instead and just bought four (at almost the same price for the 9 Costco lemons, which is exactly the kind of logic Costco tricks your brain with). I went home and looked at the recipe and what did it say? Two. I overestimated it a tad.
However, can we just take a second to appreciate an accidental science experiment I did? I bought too many lemons weeks (or months) ago and put one in my fridge and re-remembered it when I started this recipe.
How hilarious is this? It’s like a baby lemon. Or maybe more accurately a small, shriveled elderly lemon past its prime. Sorry, elderly lemon. I should’ve composted you earlier so you could die juicy instead of somehow dehydrated.
Back to the recipe. The lemon curd requires diced butter.
My butter always dices weird thanks to the fact that I freeze my butter. Another thing Costco does to you, since we’re on the topic, is that it tells you that you definitely don’t have something at home (e.g., butter) and so you buy a block only to get home and find one in your freezer and another half-block in your fridge. So now you have to try to remember that you already have butter and you’re not allowed to buy it for a long time.
Dear future self! Don’t buy butter from Costco!
Now to put the butter in with the sugar.
And then wait while your water gets a-simmerin’ by zesting and juicing your lemons.
Now, I have to say, I enjoy Ikea. I like their stuff. But their lemon juicer is a super dud. Not only does it not catch the seeds, but the juicing dome in the middle moves around when you try to turn the lemon back and forth. Useless! And then when you try to pour out the juice and stop the seeds from following, you do it wrong and end up with this nonsense:
Ah well. I’ll have to check other stores for something less ridiculous.
Time to beat the room temperature eggs:
And then put the first four ingredients together above the simmering water. Butter? Check. Sugar? Check. Lemon zest and lemon juice? Check check.
Doesn’t that look appetizing?
Now I stand here while I stir frequently, waiting for the sugar to dissolve and the butter to melt.
How delicious is this:
Mmm. So tempting, right?
Now, the last time I made lemon curd, I was without a strainer. Since then, I have corrected my ways and can follow the recipe more closely by straining the eggs and therefore avoiding scrambling large chunks. The only thing is straining eggs is awkward.
Like really awkward.
It’s basically a giant booger and every time I went to move it, it dropped egg bits everywhere until eventually I just tried to move it quickly to the sink and I sprinkled egg onto the stove and floor. Sometimes I hate my small kitchen, but when I can minimize this kind of mess, I’m more grateful for it.
Now’s the time to stand here and stir. Forever.
Stir until opaque and thick.
That looks kind of opaque but it’s definitely not thick. I didn’t time it last time I did this and I forgot to do it this time but it feels like hours. It could be like 45 minutes, but it also could be an hour—a full hour.
*some time later*
Still opaque. Still not thick enough.
*some more time later*
One of the requirements of this recipe is that I should be able to leave a trail on the spoon through the mixture.
Hard to see, but a line was left. I am going to say that’s done.
Time to move it to a heatproof bowl and wait for it to cool before clingfilming and putting it in the fridge overnight.
*the next day*
I was at work, telling a few people about the cream horns that I’d be attempting and trying to pick the brain of the only person I know who has (a) had them before and (b) made them before. All the while in the back of my mind there was this lingering thought: How long does puff pastry take to thaw?
I could have gone out for my lunch break and popped it onto the counter. I could have thought about this the night before and planned ahead pastry-wise as much as I did curd-wise, but alas I did not.
I arrived home at 5 p.m., went into the freezer and read “thaw for three to four hours” on the puff pastry packaging.
My first thought was to put it outside in the summer heat for a bit and then make some dinner. My second thought was smarter.
I remember once seeing a trick of how to soften hard butter. You warm up a glass and put it over the butter and voila! It softens it without melting it as a microwave would or cooking it as an oven would. Since puff pastry is half butter, the same logic would apply, right?
Cut to me continually reheating a warm baking dish and turning it upside-down to cover the frozen puff pastry.
Now while I was waiting for that experiment to work, I had to assemble my cream horn moulds. As you remember, I don’t have cream horn moulds, but my friend reminded me of my genius idea (that was stolen from Buzzfeed) to wrap ice cream cones with foil.
Now, this proved tedious for two reasons. One, I had no idea where to look for ice cream cones in my local grocery store so I had to ask a teenager who worked there and was guided to the freezer section where they were sitting on a hidden shelf. I say hidden, it was slightly out of view and not somewhere your average person (me) would think to look. Two, wrapping foil around delicate (read: cheap) ice cream cones is tricky.
And I had to make twelve of these things.
Thankfully it’s an activity that can be done while watching Netflix.
Now, back to the pastry. After maybe an hour, I checked the dough and it was perfectly thawed. Perfectly. Guys. this is the best puff pastry hack!
I followed the instructions that I’d read about 10 times and started by rolling out the dough on a lightly floured worktop into a rectangle that’s about 31 x 41 cm. Then I wrapped the pastry around the rolling pin and awkwardly put it onto a baking sheet that was smaller than 31 x 41 cm and onto a fridge shelf that’s almost exactly 31 x 41 cm.
(Warning: there’s a lot of chilling in this recipe.)
After about 15 minutes, I pulled it out of the fridge and trimmed the edges to make it “exactly 30 x 40 cm.” After that, I was told to cover and chill again for another 10 minutes. I didn’t take a photo of this since it would be pretty much the same photo as above.
Next up, cutting strips.
“Using a ruler and knife or pizza cutter, cut the pastry into strips 2.5 cm wide and 40 cm long.”
How hard could that be?
Well, kind of tricky. I don’t have a ruler, so I used the sewing tape measure I keep in my kitchen for such bakes. And I don’t have a large sharp knife, so I used my sonic screwdriver pizza cutter.
(It’s very cool, by the way. It makes the sonic screwdriver noise when you cut.)
Then I cut what I thought were even strips but then ended up with 14 strips instead of 12, so I don’t think I did that right.
No time to lose questioning my measuring abilities because by this point it’s well into the evening.
Mary and Paul tell me to brush each strip with an egg white wash and then wrap it, egg-white-side out, around the mould. I was a little scared at first because I’d heard tell of these not overlapping properly and then boinging out to be coils instead of horns, so I wanted to overlap enough so they’d stick together but not too much where it would just be a massive glob of pastry. After each mould is wrapped, the next step is put them on a baking sheet so the end of the pastry strip is underneath (presumably to keep it from unwrapping mid-bake). Then chill them. Again.
After a half hour of chilling two baking sheets filled with cream horns in a very small fridge, I brushed them with egg white wash again and sprinkled them with sugar.
Now, time to bake.
*about 15 minutes later*
Guys, I think I did it.
While those started to cool, I put the next batch in before going back to the first batch and taking the moulds out of each cone (moulds that were heavily greased with butter—a hugely important step I’m so grateful I did not overlook).
Mary and Paul do say that if the inside of the cone is still damp inside, you can return the horns to the oven for a few minutes. Since these will be filled with curd and whipped cream, I didn’t want to take any soggy-bottom chances so I popped them all back in the oven for about 3 minutes.
Now, I should say that I definitely ended up with more than 12 since I cut 14 strips. But I can’t let food go to waste so I also used all of those trimmed edges from the original rectangle. Long story short, I ended up with 21.
They do look pretty good, if I do say so myself. I’m very glad I went with pre-made puff pastry. I’ve checked the box of making it myself that one time, so I feel no need to do it again.
Now that it’s nearly 11 p.m., I’m going to let these sit overnight in an airtight container and make the whipped cream in the morning.
*the next morning*
A new day has come and it’s time to get things ready to bring a large tote bag of deconstructed cream horns to work.
Mary and Paul tell me the whipped cream should include whipping cream (obviously), icing sugar (sure) and lemon zest (interesting).
Now there are a few delicious tricks I’m learning within the pages of this book. Like putting coffee into chocolate icing and lemon zest into pancake batter, so that’s why I’m pleased to share with you another delicious trick: lemon zest in whipped cream.
Obviously I had to lick the mixer whisks and let me tell you: this is a revelation. I think I need to start adding lemon zest to everything.
Now, since this recipe is supposed to have only made 12 and I ended up with 21, I had a very real fear that there wouldn’t be enough curd and whipped cream to go around. So I also included in my tote bag some strawberry jam, should I need to improvise.
Off to work!
*a few hours later*
These didn’t feel like a 9 a.m. treat, so at about 10:30 a.m., I went to the office kitchen and, aided by my good friend, began assembling. I found wee little spoons in the office kitchen drawer and the two of us got to work scooping curd into each of the cones. I had no reference of how much to put in, so I suggested we fill them halfway and then spread some on the inside all the way to the top so that every bite a person takes has lemony goodness.
Then I began topping each one with whipped cream while she topped the whipped cream with a raspberry and we decided we could very easily start a catering company à la Lorelai and Sookie.
But I digress.
My friend (the Lorelai in this situation) is much better at presentation than I am, so she arranged all of the cream horns beautifully (albeit precariously) on a platter. And voila!
Not too shabby, right?
She made a comment that it amuses her how these bakes are getting more and more complex, and all I could think of is those multi-layer sponges with sugar decoration that are in my future.
I had to take another photo because I am pretty proud of these. I called out to my coworkers that it was time to dig in because these had to be eaten fresh and boy did people dig in.
The fact that I made 21 was not a detriment to anyone standing around that table. And the fact that I had a little extra lemon curd, whipped cream and raspberries was also a bonus to one person in particular who has an addict-like appreciation for lemon curd.
I have to say, they were delicious. It was a little tricky to eat them, but I ended up just treating it like an ice cream cone, which worked quite well.
I set one aside for my office friend whose British family knowledge of sponges and Irish brack gives her a leg up in terms of judging.
However, she wasn’t getting back to my email and the pastry was just staring at me so I had to eat it. Then I got an email from her asking if there were any left and I looked over at the platter and found one, just for her.
I quickly brought it to her office in case the addict came back to get another hit and she told me it looked exactly like it was supposed to and even informed me that the curd tasted just like her mom and nan’s—a true compliment!
These ended up being a real treat for everyone (a few times over—I had three), but I have to say, the tedium makes me hesitant to make them again.
But I made them! And they were delicious. And that’s what counts.
*ADDENDUM: You know how I was really mad at my new Ikea lemon juicer because it didn’t catch seeds and the juicing apparatus moved around? Well after I got back from work, I pulled it out of the dishwasher and took a closer look at the pieces. Turns out. I’m an idiot.
This is how I was using it:
And this is how it’s supposed to be used:
Just felt you guys should know the depth of my stupidity in this regard. Thought you might appreciate it.