Cream puffs: They are rich, creamy and decadent, but also nicely portioned into snack size bites. Like I have said before, I would have never suspected that one could make cream puffs at home. Yet they are simple and fun to make! And pretty fancy looking, too.
I based the filling listed here on one I found on allrecipes.com. I went to the store looking for white chocolate pudding to use for the filling, but alas they had none. I went with French vanilla instead. It was nice, but I just found the white chocolate flavor on sale at Target, so I had to buy some to try these again. I think the almond (or other flavor) extract is an important addition. My guests were surprised to find out that the filling of these cream puffs was based on a pudding mix. The flavoring makes them seem more homemade.
When I make these again, I am going to try the filling without the whipping cream in the pudding (I'll just use milk). I liked them with it, but I also felt like I could only eat one or two since they were so rich. That being said, I also am looking forward to trying these filled with just whipped cream. I think I'd like the texture of the light and fluffy whipped cream filling in these tasty pastries.
Pate a Choux:
- 8 ounces (or 1 cup) water
- 4 ounces (or 1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Dough after incorporating the flour.
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 ounces (or a scant cup) flour
- 8 ounces (or 4 large) eggs
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- In a small saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt, sugar and vanilla to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour. Sir quickly. The flour will absorb into the water to form a dough. Continue to stir for 1-2 minutes, to cook the flour and cook off some of the water.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Let the pate a choux cool slightly--you don't want the eggs to cook when you add them, but the choux should still be pretty warm.
- Transfer dough to a a stand mixer (or use a bowl and an electric mixer). Add the eggs one at a time-- quickly stirring until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. It will seem at first that the eggs will not incorporate, but keep mixing until they do.
- On a baking sheet (lined with parchment for easier clean up), drop small (level-tablespoon sized) portions of dough spaced about 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees and cook about 20 minutes more, until they are a toasty, golden brown and are cooked all the way through. Cool on the pan or a cooling rack. (I've heard poking a hole in the sides of the puffs with a toothpick will help them from collapsing, but I've done it with and without this and never had a problem.)
- 2 (3.5 ounce) packages of instant vanilla or white chocolate pudding
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups of milk
- 1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract (or any other flavor extract that appeals to you--maple? Mint?!)
- Mix pudding, cream, milk and extract in a medium bowl. Pour into a large Ziplock bag and let it set for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.
|Secret filling "door."
- When puffs are cool, take a sharp, serrated knife (like a steak knife) and cut little doors in the bottom. (See photo.)
- When the pudding is set, snip a tiny hole in the corner of the Ziplock bag. Holding the pastries upside down, squeeze the bag to fill the puffs with as much pudding as they can fit! They will take more filling than you think. When they are filled, close the doors back up. (Conversely, you can cut the top part off to fill the inside and turn them into little cream puff sandwiches.) Dust with powdered sugar and serve!