Cream puffs

Today was my building’s holiday party. I made cream puffs. They were a hit.

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They aren’t difficult to make. They do however look really impressive.  Creampuffs are the perfect mixture of nursery food and sophistication.

 

I made the puffs themselves using the formula set out by Mark Ruhlman in his wonderful cookbook, Ratio.

To a medium saucepan, add,

8 oz water

1 stick butter

1/2 tsp salt

1 tablespoon sugar

 

Heat on high until mixture boils and then reduce heat to medium

add 1 scant cup flour and stir ,

the dough forms and pulls always from the sides of the pan

cook for another minute or two

remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. you want the mixture to be warm. but too cook to cook the eggs on impact. After you set the mixture aside to cool, preheat your oven to 425.

once the mixture is cool

add four eggs, one at a time

mixing well after each addition. For several moments the mixture will look terrible. This is not a mistake. keep going. once all the eggs are mixed in, beat vigorously for a few minutes. if you have an electric mixer, the dough will be improved if you beat the dough for a couple of minutes. The dough should at this point look smooth and satiny.

If you own parchment paper, cover a large baking sheet with it. Parchment paper will make your life easier during the whole process for baking cream puffs.

 

Cream puffs are delicious at any size. They are however completely irresistible if made tiny. I used a baby spoon to form the puffs. each cream puff was baby spoon full of batter. They don’t spread out a whole lot so they can be placed fairly closely together on the parchment paper covered baking sheet.

 

bake until they are toasty brown. Ruhlman suggests turning the oven down after 10 minutes to 350. I baked this batch at 425 for the entire time.They came out fine.

 

The custard

For many years I used to make custards by starting with a roux. A couple of years back, thinking about packaged pudding mix, I began to make custards  in a simpler way.

 

in the same saucepan that I just used to make the cream puffs, now all washed  out I put,

2 cups milk

3/4 c flour 

3/4 C sugar

 

if you are using a low fat milk, add a pat of butter

whisk together well and cook over medium heat while whisking constantly

I made this batch of creampuffs vaguely eggnog flavored, so I grated in a bunch of nutmeg. I also added some Pereg coffee spices, a mix of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom ( spices can be added at this point,vanilla and other aromatics get added later on )

When the mixture comes to a boil, lower heat to low. Cook until thick and pudding like while stirring.  whjen thick, add two eggs one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Pour custard into a bowl and either cool in the fridge or whisk over ice water to cool.

By this time the cream puffs are probably done . Set them aside to cool. Leave them on the parchment paper.

 

When the custard is cool and thick and the cream puffs are cool you can begin filling the cream puffs.

I usually am not into special cooking tools. for this, a  pastry bag and a small round tip make filling the cream puffs easy work. I have done it with a spoon, and it’s hard and messy. The pastry tube is the way to go here. Work over the parchment paper. When you are done, invite your child to come in to the kitchen and suck the left over custard out of the pastry bag. Your child will then be happy to wash the dirty dishes.

 

After the cream puffs are all filled, put some squares of  dark chocolate into a microwave safe bowl  the microwave. if all you have is chocolate chips, those will do. If you have better chocolate, use that. When the chocolate is melted dip a fork into the melted chocolate and wave it over the cream puffs.  The chocolate will form into elegant looking streaks and dribbles. keep drilling and waging your arm until all of the cream puffs are nicely decorated.

place into pastry papers, place on platter and set into fridge to set the chocolate.

 

Invite your child back into the kitchen to finish eating the left over melted chocolate and to wash the bowl and the fork.

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