The problem with most recipes for frostings, custards, mousses, and other sugary fillings is that they tend to make far more than is useful. I’m sure that many of you are shaking your heads in disagreement here, because really, what’s better than those extra dollops of whipped chocolate ganache? I understand completely! To be more precise, the problem lies in the usage. Finding a way to enjoy those last morsels without resorting to simply spooning plain frosting into your mouth can be a fine art. It takes a bit of creativity to dress them up a bit without looking too desperate (read: frosting on bread does not cake make), but there’s a certain degree of restraint that must be exercised, lest you spend hours creating a whole new pastry masterpiece. In situations such as these, I find no problem in getting a helping hand with certain components, like frozen puff pastry.
Easily manipulated into a myriad of fun shapes, it’s easy enough to merely cut out a few squares, bake them off, top them with mousse and call them free-form tarts. However, one of my favorite presentations takes just an ounce more effort, but pays off in tons of rave reviews. I present to you the humble cream horn, a lovely little trick that every baker should have up their sleeve.
Just let the sheet of puff pastry thaw at room temperature for 30 – 45 minutes, until soft and pliable. Roll it out lightly to remove the creases, and cut it into 1/2 wide strips. Take a metal cream horn form (or cannoli forms can work too) and starting at the pointy end, wrap one strip around it, overlapping on the edges slightly so that it stays together. Place the horn on the ends of the pastry strip, on top of a silpat. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes, until puffed and nicely browned. Carefully remove the metal form, and return the pastry to the oven for another 5 minutes or so, just to dry out the insides a bit more to keep them crisper. Let the horns cool completely before piping (or spooning) in whatever extra sweet spreads or fillings you have on hand. For the cream horns above, I marbled together some extra chocolate and mint mousses.
And if that all sounds like too much work for you, just take a few simple cookie cutters and cut shapes out of the sheet of puff pastry. Bake until golden brown, and let cool completely. Either slice or pull the shapes apart at the center, fill as desired, and replace the top for a buttery, flaky, and sweet sandwich!