Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pokemon Poffins: Keep Stirring!

Don't forget to stir!

What I like best about creating food from fictional sources is trying to figure out how to faithfully translate the fantasy world into a real life or modern kitchen’s methods and ingredients. For example, for my Game of Thrones Venison Stew I avoided using flavor-boosting additives like tomato paste or soy sauce that would not have been present in a Westeros castle kitchen. I got a kick out of making Redwall ‘Unnymoles, because the general recipe is laid out clearly in the books. I think these restrictions pose a fun problem to solve.

Pink pokemon poffins

When I heard about Pokenom, a Pokemon-themed month-long recipe link-up, I searched for some sort of Pokemon food inspiration. Most of the Pokeverse food is fairly simple – fruits, juices, honey… Poffins struck me as a fun project to try because there is an entire Pokemon episode where the gang goes to a poffin cooking class!

Pokemon TV show poffin class - stir carefully!
“It’s this constant stirring that gives poffins their flavor, you see!”
According to the tv show, the poffins are made from water and berries that have been reduced over high heat while stirring, and then poured into a mold and cooled. The stirring, the instructor stresses repeatedly, is vital for developing flavor. Stir too quickly and you might spill the mixture, but stir too slowly and you will burn it.

The description of the recipe suggests a sort of chewy fruit candy, but the end result looks rather more like a bun. A few other geeky chefs have made bread-based poffins (Pixelated Provisions and Feasts of Fiction). I was instead inspired by the importance of stirring for the end result, and went with Pate-a-Choux pastry puff-based poffins.

Pate-a-choux poffins

Choux pastry relies on its high moisture content as a leavening agent, and creates light pastries with big air pockets. It’s often filled with cream custards or topped with chocolate since the pastry itself is fairly mild in flavor. Importantly, for this Pokemon poffin application, both choux pastry and the custard filling are heated on the stove and stirred carefully to produce the end result!


This recipe makes 18-20 poffins.

For the pastry:

  • 2 large eggs + 1 egg white, beaten together
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • About a knife-tip of gel-based food dye (Optional)
  • Sprinkles (Optional)

For the vanilla custard filling:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3.5 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-1/3 cups milk
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract (it pays to use the good stuff for this recipe!)
  • 1/3 cup whipping creamInstructions

Stir stir stir

For the puffs:

  1. Preheat the over to 425 F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the butter, milk, water, sugar and salt together in a medium sauce pan. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring to combine.
  3. Once it has boiled, remove the pan from heat and add the flour. Stir with a silicon spatula, or other heat-resistant utensil, until it forms a cohesive blob and stops sticking to the sides of the pan.
  4. Heat the dough over low heat to reduce for 3-4 minutes. Keep stirring! “Too slow and you will burn the mixture.”
  5. "That's too fast! You're going to spill it!"
    "That's too fast! You're going to spill it!"
  6. Turn off the heat, and continue stirring the dough for another minute to cool it.
  7. Add the eggs and stir to combine. The dough should be thick, but should still flow slowly like a liquid.
  8. If desired, add the food coloring. I made orange and green poffins. The unadulterated dough is quite yellow in color, so achieving a true red or blue color will be difficult without making a very dark poffin.
  9. Set up a piping bag with a large-sized nozzle, and scoop the dough into the bag.
  10. Pipe out poffin-shaped oblongs. Careful to space them at least two inches apart – they puff quite a bit!
  11. Top with sprinkles.
  12. Bake for 12 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 and bake until they’ve browned and the exterior is firm – not squishy. Let them cool, and then fill if desired.

Stir, stir, stir!

For the Pastry Filling
Fill the puffs as near to serving as you can – the puffs lose their crispiness if they sit too long in a moist environment.

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and water in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until it boils. Continue to cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. (“Not too fast, you’re going to spill it!”) The mixture will thicken.
  2. Remove the mixture from the stove, and stir in the egg yolks. Cook over low heat two more minutes.
  3. Stir in the butter and the vanilla extract.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until cool 30-60 minutes.
  5. Fit a piping bag with a small nozzle, and scoop the custard into the piping bag.
  6. Using a paring knife, cut a little x into the bottom of a buff. Insert the nozzle into this hole, and squirt in the filling.

Stuffed with vanilla goodness

Concluding Thoughts

“It’s your first time! It takes a lot of practicing to make poffins that truly taste good.”
– Poffin cooking class instructor to Ash.

My first experience with pate-a-choux was for making Cream Swans for my Highgarden Game of Thrones Feast. That was a delicious foray into desserts-that-look-like-things, and I figured this would be a good skill to practice for future fantasy foods. I thought poffins would be a good excuse to practice choux pastry and test how food coloring might work with the dough. Conclusion: no problems! I also really liked the crunch of the sprinkles.

For my swans’ filling, I used a real vanilla bean while for these poffins’ filling, I used vanilla extract. I think the flavor could have been a little richer, so I’ve increased the amount of vanilla I used to a full tablespoon. Right after I finished stuffing all of these, the it occurred to me that something like pumpkin spice might make for a nice alternative flavor… Next time!
So many poffins!

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