Oh, happy day! I’m currently floating on a cloud of baking loveliness, one that could only be born from the kind of butter-induced euphoria that springs from a modest mound of dough that rises into something perfectly light and miraculously fluffy. This week, on a 93-degree day loaded with humidity, I tackled homemade cream puffs. And woo to the hoo, they rose against the elements like champs! Sweet little puffs of light and airy dough, each filled with a healthy dose of creamy custard. Happy day indeed.
I’ve always thought of cream puffs as exceedingly tricky little things to put together, particularly because of their finicky nature and weather sensitivity. But my grandma’s birthday was this week, and because she’s such a fan of the little cream-filled pastries, they seemed a fitting treat for the occasion. I remembered reading this recipe on Craving Chronicles months ago, so it was the first place I checked when it came time to throw together the dough. As it turns out, the David Lebovitz recipe is super simple (dare I say foolproof?) as long as you follow it closely and stick to the plan. Pair it with the creamy custard filling (the same base used for the raspberry custard cups last week), and you have 45 bits of bite-sized yumminess. More than enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. More than enough to share.
Pate A Choux Puffs
From Craving Chronicles, adapted from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz
• 1 cup water
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
Place water, butter, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan, and boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. As soon as the butter has melted and the mixture boils, use a spatula to stir in the flour all at once until a thick paste forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Cool for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Briskly beat the eggs in one at a time with a spatula, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next, until dough is smooth and shiny.
Fill a large Ziploc bag or pastry bag with the dough. Snip 1/2 inch off the bag tip, and pipe small mounds of dough about as wide as a quarter and 1 inch high (about 1 inch apart) on the baking sheets. You should be able to fit about 20 to 24 puffs per baking sheet.
Bake one sheet at a time at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 350 (the original recipe says 375, but I lowered the temp because my puffs were browning too fast). Continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until puffs are golden brown on top and sides. Turn off oven, and let puffs sit in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and poke each puff on the side with a paring knife to release steam. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Once puffs are cooled completely, cut a small X in the side of each about halfway from top to bottom. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a wide decorating tip with the custard filling (see recipe below). Insert the tip into the X on the side of each puff, and gently fill with cream. Serve within a few hours (or, if necessary, refrigerate overnight and serve the next day).
Adapted from SLD, Food52.com
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 2 egg
• 2 tablespoon flour
• 4 teaspoons cornstarch
• 2 cup milk
• 2 teaspoon vanilla
• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into small pieces
In a medium saucepan, mix together sugar, egg, flour and cornstarch. Add the milk and vanilla, and stir well with a wire whisk.
Bring to a boil over medium eat, whisking constantly. Cook (while stirring) for 5 to 7 minutes or until custard thickens. Pour into a bowl.
Add the cream cheese, and stir for two minutes or until the cheese melts. Cover and refrigerate until the custard is chilled, about 2 hours.
Have you ever tackled homemade cream puffs? Any clever uses for the pate a choux dough (savory appetizers, perhaps?) or other helpful tips to share? What’s on the upcoming baking agenda? Happy weekend to all!