Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cream Puffs

Cream puffs are always a very special dessert... a little time consuming, but not especially difficult for as impressive as they look. The filling recipe is one I came across in a magazine years ago, and nothing really beats it for a fabulous cream puff.

For a shower or special luncheon, the cream puff shells can be filled with chicken salad, egg salad etc. It makes an elegant finger food.

Cream puffs are like potato chips- you can't eat just one. Ask Joanna and Scott how many they ate once.

Making Cream Puffs

1 cup water
½ cup butter
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

In a saucepan heat water, butter an d salt to a full rolling boil. Reduce heat and quickly stir in flour. Mix vigorously until mixture leaves the sides of the pot. Place mixture in mixing bowl. Beat in eggs one at a time beating 20 seconds after each addition, until dough is smooth again. After all eggs are incorporated, beat 15 seconds at medium speed.

Drop dough onto parchment lined or greased baking sheets.. about 1 tablespoon dough for small cream puffs. I put dough in a large ziplock bag and pipe it out onto the tray, small Hershey-kiss-like dollops.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for 25 minutes more until puffs are golden brown and dry looking. Cool completely on wire racks.

This dough for cream puffs does not double well; it needs to be baked right away and cannot sit waiting for the first batch to bake. I just make 2 or 3 consecutive batches when I need lots and lots of cream puffs.

For filling a single recipe of dough use:
8 oz. cream or small container of cool whip
1 cup milk
small box of pudding
and some vanilla to taste

Filling for two recipes of dough:
16 oz. heavy cream whipped and lightly sweetened (or large container of coolwhip)
1 large package of instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

To prepare filling:
Whip heavy cream and sweeten lightly. Set aside. Mix pudding, milk, and vanilla for two minutes until thickened. Fold in whipped cream . Chill while baking cream puff shells. I usually chill it right in the ziptop bag I am going to use for filling the cream puffs.

To fill cream puffs, slice a small portion of the top off. Fill cream puffs and replace top. Dust with powdered sugar.

To make eclairs: Pipe dough into lines about as long as, and slightly thicker than your finger. Bake and fill as for cream puffs. Top with your favorite fudge frosting or ganache.... I am still looking for the perfect ganache recipe.