Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cream Puffs!

Don't Cream Puffs just sound fun?  I first tried these a few years ago when I was living in Portland.  I served them for a girls-night-out we were having and filled them with a silky chocolate filling (the same one I use for my french silk pie).  I've tried different variations by using different fillings (lemon custard, whipped cream) and sauces (chocolate, vanilla).  You can also play around with the shape itself.  Because of all the different ways to make them, it seems like there's one to suit just about anybody.  The cream puffs themselves are surprisingly easy to make, as long as you have decent upper arm strength. 
Cream Puffs
1 stick butter, cut up
1/2 C whole milk
1/2 C water
1 Tbs sugar
dash of salt
1 C flour
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 425.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In  medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, bring the butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt to a boil.  Then dump the flour all at once into the pan and mix quickly with a wooden spoon to form a dough.  Continue stirring constantly over the heat for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition.  The dough will be smooth and shiny.
You can use a pastry bag or a baggie with the tip cut off to pipe the dough onto the parchment.  Play around with the shapes.  But make sure they're consistent in size.  My dough was about 3 inches in diameter.
Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake for about another twenty minutes.  Use your judgement on this, if you made them small, bake for less time, and vice-versa.  They should be puffed and well browned.  If they're only slightly brown, they will still be wet in the middle so be sure to give them enough time.

Once of the things I liked about making these this time is that I split it up into a two day project.  I made the filling (this time I went with a classic chocolate pastry cream) the day before and refrigerated it.  Then I made the cream puffs the next day.  It seemed a lot less labor intensive that way.  I could hardly wait for them to cool!