Sunday, January 3, 2010

Puff Momma

So you make something really fantabulous and that means one thing and one thing only....

You will lead a life of making the signature fantabulous dish time and time again.

With that preface, I bring you La Cream Puff:

Or, I should say a whole tray of cream puffs – (and a really cute J. Crew sweater that I snagged earlier in the fall. Yay me!)

This tray of puffs was brought to my peeps on Thanksgiving.

I know, right. Way to move right fast on your bloggin, Suzie Q.

(Hangs head in shame.)

For reals, the cream puffs slipped my mind until New Year’s Eve when, you guessed it, I made them again.

So, I’ve been in the cream puff game since my college years. I don’t know how this came about. I was flipping through my mom’s Betty Crocker Cookbook and started making them one day.

The rest is history, because my family, which is chock full of cooks and eaters and critics (my people tell you what they think, feelings be damned), fell head over heels in love with my cream puffs.

I’ve stuck with the Betty Crocker recipe time and time again. Sure, I see different recipes all over the joint – fancy cookbooks, gourmet mags, Web sites, TV, etc. – but why mess with perfection?

If you eat one of these cream puffs, you will agree that they are amazingly delish. Unless you’re my sister Monica, who has an aversion to all things creamy and puffy.

When I serve these cream puffs, I am often compared to the little old Italian ladies who live all throughout my town and bake old-school confections. Their recipes live in their hearts and minds. Awwww. See, my family is full of super sweet people.

Many eaters of my cream puffs declare that they are terrible at making cream puffs. It’s a major fail over and over.
“Well, try again,” I say, always pointing to Betty Crocker.

To make the perfect puff, here are my simple tips:

1. You need to have all your ingredients ready to go. Don’t fiddle around the cupboard or search high and low for your cornstarch. Just, get the ingredients, equipment, measuring utensils set aside and move onward and out with the recipe at hand.

2. Don’t talk on the phone or text or any of that nonsense. The cream puff needs your attention. (Actually, I advise against these stupid interruptions whenever you are cooking. Be one with your food!)

3. Use timers. The recipe says to boil for a minute, so boil for a minute. Don’t guess on that stuff.

4. A wooden spoon is your best friend. I mix both components – the puff and the cream – with an old-school spoon. My Kitchenaid is not welcome here. It takes some muscle,  but a workout won't kill you.

5. Patience, my friend, is key to the survival of the cream puff. You have to stir over medium heat and this takes time. Just deal with it.

6. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, cut, fill or dust the cream puffs with powdered sugar until you are ready to eat them. This is key to their freshness and beauty and awesomeness. Yes, it is a bit high-maintenance, but so worth it!!

So, that’s it. Here’s the recipe.

Again, major props to Betty Crocker!

Cream Puffs
From "Betty Crocker's Cookbook, Ninth Edition"

1 cup water
½ cup butter
1 cup flour
4 extra large eggs

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat water and butter to a rolling boil in a 2 ½ quart saucepan. Stir in flour. Reduce heat to low. Stir vigorously over low heat for about a minute or until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat.

Beat in eggs all at once with a wooden spoon until mixture is smooth. This takes a few minutes. Drop dough about three inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. You should have twelve puffs.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until puffed and golden. Cool for about 30 minutes.

When ready to serve, cut off top third of puff and pull out soft dough. Fill puffs with Cream Filling (see below). And dust with powdered sugar.
Cream Filling:
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in 2-quart saucepan. Slowly stir in milk. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Boil for a minute. Stir half of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, then stir back into hot mixture in saucepan. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into a glass bowl. Press plastic wrap on filling to prevent a tough layer from forming on top. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.

Makes 12 puffs.

1 comment:

  1. Well don't you just look darling in your sweater! You are going to convince me to start cooking. For sheezy, between your blog and reading Julie & Julia, I'm actually wondering if I could make these awesome looking things.
    But OMG Susan you need to see my little Japanese kitchen. An Easy Bake Oven might do better things than what I've got going on in there.