This Valentine’s Day bake your love (or family or friends or office) a très romantique treat, which has held a sentimental place in Parisians’ hearts for almost 300 years. Puits d’Amour (translation: wells of love) have been a specialty of the Stohrer Pâtissier shop (the oldest bakery in the City of Light) since 1735. The sweet was originally served at King Louis XV’s lavish dinner parties, and a red currant jam was used for the filling. However, the pastry acquired a suggestive reputation, and vanilla custard has been subsequently used in place of the berry preserves.
If you can’t make it to Paris this Valentine’s Day, you and someone special can still share a delicious sweet that emanates a little essence of France. The following Puits d’Amour recipe combines the elements of time-honored tradition with a twist of modern day baking convenience.
Preparation and Cook Time: 1 hour
Pastry Cream (this can be prepared up to two days ahead of time)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar (divided)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
- Box of puff pastry dough from freezer section at your grocery store
- 6 ounce container of fresh raspberries
- ½ cup of sugar for caramelized topping
- Whisk the egg yolks, corn starch and ¼ cup of sugar together in a large bowl and set aside. Do this just before you are ready to complete the next step.
- Stir the milk, vanilla extract and ¼ cup of sugar together in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and remove from burner.
- Pour about a ½ cup of the milk mixture into the bowl with the egg yolk blend and whisk. Continue to combine and whisk the rest of the milk (a ½ cup at a time) with the egg mix.
- Return the custard to the saucepan and heat over medium again. Let simmer for about 2-3 minutes, until it thickens.
- Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add the butter and continue stirring until the pastry cream has cooled (until it is no longer steaming). This takes about 5 minutes.
- If you plan on using this for a later date, cover the bowl with cellophane. Be sure that the plastic wrap is pressed up against the custard, so it doesn’t form a skin.
- Preheat the oven to the temperature noted on the pastry dough box.
- Allow the frozen dough to completely thaw but not to room temperature. It still needs to be cold to the touch.
- Roll the dough out so that it’s about 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut the dough a bit larger than the muffin tin divot and press each piece into the spaces on the pan. A heart shaped cupcake pan was used in the photo at the top of the page.
- Poke several little air holes in each pastry with a toothpick; otherwise the dough inflates too much.
- Bake per product’s instructions.
- Once cooled, remove the pastry shells from the pan and place them on a serving plate (or within individual cupcake papers). Fill each pastry with about a ½ cup of custard.
- Place a few raspberries on top of each custard.
- Mix a ½ cup of sugar with 2-3 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan. Stir continuously.
- Heat over medium until it boils. Then stop stirring.
- At this point, the water is evaporating and needs to simmer for another 8-10 minutes.
- Once the sugar takes on a golden brown tone, immediately remove the pan from the heat. (If you are concerned about overcooking the sugar, put the bottom of the pot in an ice bath for 10 seconds.)
- Be very careful not to touch your skin to the molten sugar. Drizzle a thin coat of caramelized sugar over each custard cup and raspberries. Enjoy!
While the above recipe is superb, nothing can top an actual puit d’amour direct from Stohrer’s pastry shop. Surprise your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day and purchase a couple flights to Paris for a romantic retreat.