There's something comforting about eating a cream puff. One bite and the crunchy caramel breaks and the soft sweet buttery cream filling fills your mouth and you are in heaven.
I always have to remind myself to limit myself to one a day. I remember one summer in my early teens how I gained so much weight from eating these sinful goodies every afternoon after swimming lessons. To this day I still carry around the proof of that indulgence.
Making cream puffs require a three-step process. First is making the pate a choux or the pastry shells which requires a high baking temperature of 400°F. Next comes cooking the creme anglaise or cream filling. The last step is making the caramel to top the cream puffs.
This is a dessert you can make even without a mixer. Here's the recipe:
Pate a Choux (Pastry Shell)1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
pinch of salt
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
In a heavy saucepan, combine water, butter and salt. Bring to a rolling boil. Add in flour and mix over low flame till dough leaves the sides of the saucepan. Let cool till warm. Using a whisk, beat in egg yolks one at a time. Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a round tip with1/2 inch opening. Pipe 1 1/2 rounds of pastry two inches apart onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 400° F for 30 minutes of till dry and golden. Cool on wire racks before filling with cream.
Creme Anglaise (Cream Filling)
1/3 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup refined sugar
2 cups fresh milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine cornstarch and sugar in a saucepan. Add in milk. Bring to a low simmer while stirring constantly. Pour half cup of the hot mixture into beaten egg yolks. Add egg yolk mixture back to the sauce pan with the rest of the cream. Cook until the mixture till thick and coats the back of a spoon. Add vanilla extract and butter. Cool completely before piping into center of pastry shells.
1 1/2 cups refined sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Boil till lightly golden . Use immediately to coat top of cream-filled pastry.
Note: Cool caramel completely before serving.