Whether you call them cream horns or lady locks, the long ago name for a pastry that resembled the curls of a woman's hair, they are fun to eat.
They are simply puff pastry that has been rolled very, very thin and wrapped around a metal form. After baking, the form is removed and the cream horn is stuffed with a variety of fillings.
While I own a set of lady lock forms I used for the finish of a cake in my book, "The New Pastry Cook", I couldn't see asking people to spend $24.00 for a set they may only use occasionally. So I came up with a substitute so you wouldn't miss out on these treats.
You're going to cover ice cream sugar cones with foil and wrap the puff pastry around those. The cream horns are a good size if you wrap them to the top, but you can make smaller ones by not wrapping all the way up. I have to say I was pretty pleased with myself for this one!
As I mentioned in last weeks blog, I used Trader Joe's puff pastry for this as it is rolled to about 1/16th inch. If you use Dufour's or another brand you will need to roll it out. In any case, trim the edges and you are ready to go.
I suggest you work the pastry on a piece of parchment paper. It will then be easy to pick up the parchment, place it on a baking sheet and pop it in and out of the freezer or refrigerator to keep it cold.
The one thing to watch is making sure the dough is cold. If it warms too much it will stretch. After one or two, you will be able to judge the manageability of the dough and the winding of it onto the cream horn form. It's actually pretty fast.
Cream horns can be rimmed in chocolate and filled with marshmallow cream as I have done or they can be filled with lemon curd, whipped cream and fruit, or a lightened pastry cream. I use a quick tempering method for the chocolate so it doesn't discolor if it sits for a day. If the filling is to be cold, then fill them at the last minute. The cream horns should not be refrigerated after baking as they lose their crispness.
These are best served the same day as they are made. Although you may have to fill them at the last minute, they can be wrapped with the puff pastry and frozen, unbaked, for months since they have to be baked from a frozen state.
Chocolate Marshmallow Cream Horns
Wrap the sugar cones in regular foil. Do not use the heavy foil as it doesn't fold as well. I made this template which works really well. Keep the foil tight and smooth to the cone. Otherwise, the puff pastry can get caught in the wrinkles and won't release well.
You can stack pieces of foil on top of each other and cut them all at once. Here is the template I used. You can use whatever works for you.
If you stack 4 pieces of foil and mark the top piece of foil, all the forms can be cut at once. Place the foil with the 12 inch side in front of you. Mark the foil and cut the top piece off.
Cut on the diagonal line so you have two pieces.
Wrap the cones. Be sure to place the cone so at least 1" of foil protrudes.
Roll the cone in the paper tightly and smoothly toward the opposite side.
Secure tip and tuck top foil into the cone to secure the foil.
If you are using TJ's puff pastry, the two sheets will make 8 cream horns so you will need 8 pieces of foil.
Thaw the puff pastry for 2 hours at room temperature of about 74°F. If the room is warmer it may be ready sooner. Please read Perfectly Acceptable Puff Pastry for thawing tips. Unroll the pastry carefully and flatten it out. It should be cold and firm. If not, place it on parchment, and then on a baking sheet. Refrigerate or freeze briefly to firm it up. Do not continue if the puff is soft.
Cut the pastry into about ¾ inch strips. Try not to go narrower. An easy way to start winding the dough onto the cones is to cover the tip first and then start wrapping the strips on the diagonal. I found no need to dampen the pastry to get it to stick together but mine was a tad tacky when I unrolled it and I didn't use flour on it.Continue wrapping the strip of puff pastry on the diagonal.
You will have to join the pastry strips as you run out while wrapping. Just make sure all the joined pieces are on one side and that you place that side down on the baking sheet. This will ensure that they will not pop up while baking if on the top side. Press the piece together well.
As you wrap each one, put it immediately into the freezer. Continue to wrap all the cones.
Freeze the cones rock hard.
Shortly before baking, preheat the oven to 400°F. Double pan the cream horns. Place the pan of cream horns on a second pan underneath. Place the cones in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Cover the top loosely with foil if they are browning too much. Carefully remove the foil wrapped cones as they will be hot. They will release with a slight twist. Return the empty cream horns to the oven and bake another 5 to 7 minutes to bake the inside of the cones. Cool completely.
Quick Tempering Chocolate
6 ounces semisweet chocolate (170 grams)
2 tablespoons crisco or like product – do not use oil or butter
Place in a small, narrow bowl slightly larger than the top of the cream horn and microwave on half power for about 2 minutes. It won't look melted. Use a small whisk to smooth is out. Alternately, place the chocolate and shortening in a bowl and place over hot water. Transfer to a small narrow bowl.
Rim the top of each cone in the chocolate, allowing the excess chocolate to drip back into the container.
Freeze briefly to just to set up. Do not leave them in the freezer as they may get soggy as they defrost.
In a small saucepan, bring the water, cornsyrup and ¼ cup (50 grams or 1 ¾ ounces) of sugar to a boil. Wash the sides of the saucepan down with a pastry brush (not plastic) dipped in hot water. Continue to boil hard until a candy thermometer reaches 246 degrees.
In the meantime, place the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl fitted with a whisk. When the temperature of the sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees, beat the egg whites to the soft peak stage. Slowly add the remaining sugar and return to the soft peak stage. If the whites get done before the syrup, reduce the speed to the lowest and keep mixing. Do not turn off the mixer. When the syrup comes to temperature, raise the speed of the mixer to medium and slowly drizzle it into the whites. Turn the mixer to high and beat until thick and lukewarm. Reduce the mixer to low and add the vanilla.
Yield: About 3 cups
Chocolate Rimmed Cones
Using a plain tip, pipe the marshmallow cream into the cone, extending it beyond the rim of the cone.
These are best served the same day.