Don't be traumatized by the length of the recipe... it's not as hard as it looks! And the ooohs and aahhs that will come from those you serve them to will have you making them again and again. Experiment with the flavors of the filling if you wish...it's easy when you use a different syrup each time! (DaVinci or Torani have every flavor imaginable...LOVE them!)
These are best eaten the same day they are made. You can make the filling and ganache a couple days ahead and chill. (Slowly reheat the ganache in the microwave, stir and use when ready to serve.)
Pastry: 1/2 cup butter 1 cup water 1 cup flour 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons sugar 4 eggs
Filling: One-half of an 8-ounce pkg cream cheese, softened 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1/4 cup cherry syrup, such as Torani, DaVinci 1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped with 1 tablespoon Splenda
Ganache: 4 ounces 70% cacao chocolate 1/2 cup whipping cream 1/3 cup cherry syrup
Cream Puffs: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray and set aside. In a medium saucepan heat the water and butter to boiling. Reduce heat; with a wooden spoon stir in flour, cocoa powder, salt, and sugar. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. With the wooden spoon beat in eggs, one at a time, until no longer glossy. Place 2 tablespoons of dough onto greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. (May need to do in two batches.) Bake for 15-20 minutes or until puffed and dry to the touch. (Pierce one of the puffs with a sharp knife and make sure it is dry on the inside. If gummy, return to oven for 1 more minute.) Remove puffs to a wire rack to cool completely.
For Filling: In a medium bowl beat the softened cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and cherry syrup. Fold in whipped cream. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill.
For Ganache: In a microwave safe bowl place the chocolate and whipping cream. On 50% power heat for 1 minute. Stir and heat for another minute. Repeat until chocolate is soft, but not completely melted. Add cherry syrup and, with a whisk, incorporate the cream and syrup into the chocolate until it is very smooth. Set aside. (May need to gently reheat when ready to use.)
To assemble: When puffs are cool, cut in half with a serrated knife. Remove any moist dough in the middle. Place on a plate and fill the bottom with 2 tablespoons cherry filling. Dip the tops of the puffs into the warm ganache. Serve. Makes 14 mini puffs.
(The leftover ganache makes wonderful truffles when left in the fridge. Simply scoop out with a teaspoon or melon baller.)