This is how easy it is to make cream puffs: Last Sunday morning I was up early, charged with energy to get things done. The rest of the household was still in bed, and the oven was still hot from roasting a pan of vegetables. I wondered: What else can I bake that doesn't take time a lot of time for mixing, or for yeast to rise the dough?
Cabbage paste, I thought. Only I thought this as the French say: Pâte à choux.
Pâte à choux is a moist, soft, egg rich dough that forms the basic structure of dozens of pastrys such as profiteroles, chocolate clairs, and, when fried, a donut-like beingnet. Because the dough is so moist, steam makes it puff up while baking, creating a light and airy structure that can be exploited with the use of fillings such as puddings or whipped cream as in these cream puffs. With a little less sugar and a little more salt in the mix, a savory version can be filled with roasted or sauteed vegetables and meats for an elegant dinner or simple lunch. In short: Pâte à choux is my favorite kind of recipe: easy to make with ingredients commonly on hand, and extremely versatile.
one cup of water
6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 tsp salt
one and 1/8 cup flour (all purpose)
4 large eggs
FOR THE CREAM FILLING AND CHOCOLATE TOPPING:
one cup heavy whipping cream
a few tablespoons sugar
vanilla (a dash)
1/3 cup (approx) chocolate chips
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F., and place the oven rack in the lower (but not lowest) postiion in the oven. Cover two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Combine the wet ingredients (water, butter, sugar) plus salt in a saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a boil, stirring to blend the ingredients. Remove it from the heat.
Add the flour all at once, and mix as it quickly comes together into a very soft dough. It will pull away from the sides of the pan and form a ball.
Transfer the dough to a mixer and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a small cup.
Mix the dough on low speed, and add the eggs one at a time and continue mixing until they are well incorporated. You should have a very smooth soft dough.
Using a pastry bag, or a large plastic bag with a corner cut off and a pastry tip inserted, pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in golf-ball size portions, two inches apart.
Bake for ten minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another ten minutes.
Remove the golden brown puffs from the oven and set aside to cool. Using a sharp paring knife, immediately pierce a small hole into the side of each puff, allowing steam to escape.
When the pastries are completely cool, fill as desired with chocolate or lemon pudding, or whipped cream for cream puffs as below:
For the filling, whip a cup of heavy cream sweetened with a tablespoon or two of sugar and a small dash of vanilla.
Using another pastry bag, gently insert the piping tip into the hole you created to allow the steam to escape while cooling. Fill each pastry with cream.
Melt one third cup of bittersweet chocolate chips until melted. Stir until very smooth. Before it cools, lightly drizzle the chocolate across the tops of the cream puffs. Allow it to set, and serve immediately. Refridgerate any leftovers.
Add this to your bag of tricks and it will make you feel like a rock star in the kitchen.