Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cream Puffs & Eclairs

I've always been a little freaked out by pastries. They seem so picky, so...delicate. But after my sister in law brought some homemade cream puffs to a family gathering, I decided to give it a try. How hard could it be? I was expecting disaster, but it was surprisingly simple. And most, if not all, the ingredients should be in your pantry.
The basic dough recipe is called pate a choux, made up of eggs, water, butter, and flour. Besides cream puffs, you can also use this dough for beignets, eclairs, profiteroles, and other pastries.
The funny part about this picture is that I took the photo pre-grocery store. So just picture vanilla pudding mix, milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Again, we just moved and I'm still learning what we have and don't have. I have almond extract, hazelnut extract, and maple extract. But not vanilla.
Pate a choux is really quite simple. You bring the water, butter, and salt to a boil and then dump - yes, dump - the flour in and stir, stir, stir until the dough comes together into one ball. After five minutes, use egg beaters to add one egg at a time until the dough is smooth and shiny. And that's it! Super simple!
Pipe dough onto parchment paper on cookie sheets. You really can make them as big or as small as possible. I made mine bite size this time, but usually my dough measures about 1/4 cup. Profiteroles are usually bite size and filled with ice cream.
And here's eclairs! Just pipe out long, slightly thick lines.
After baking to lightly golden brown, let cool on wire rack. If you are making your cream puffs any bigger then bite size, you'll want to split your puffs open while still warm and remove any soft dough from the inside.
The filling is one 3.4-oz pudding mix made as directed on the box. I then beat heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar together until soft peaks form. Fold in two cups whipped cream into the prepared pudding and pipe the filling into the cream puffs and eclairs.
I know this is a horrible picture! Anyway, remove a small part off the top or cut a small slit in the top and pipe in filling until it starts coming out. Top with some melted chocolate and ta-da!
This is the plate I gave the husband's boss. I don't know why I shared, I really should have eaten them all by myself!
And I got the little one's approval!
Vanilla Cream Puffs
by Kelli
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter (no substitutions!)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 box (1.34 oz) instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
For puffs, in a large saucepan, bring water, butter, and salt to a boil. Add flour all at once and stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and shiny. Using a piping bag and a large round tip, pipe dough onto greased cookie sheet (I use parchment paper). Bake at 400 degrees until lightly golden brown, about 15 minutes for smaller puffs and 30 minutes for larger puffs. Remove to a wire rack to cool. If making larger puffs, split them open while the puffs are still warm and remove the soft dough.
For filling, make vanilla pudding according to package directions. Using an electric mixer or a Kitchenaid mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Fold in two cups of whipping cream with the pudding. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small tip and pipe the filling into each pastry.
Melt chocolate chips and cinnamon in a bowl in the microwave in 30-second increments until chocolate is smooth and melted. Using a spoon, drizzle the tops of puffs with chocolate. You can also skip the chocolate and top the puffs with powdered sugar.

1 comment:

  1. Look wonderful! Mom always made bite size ones then filled with shrimp salad. I do the same but also use tuna salad or other savory things. Might try the sweet ones soon though