Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cream Puffs

Cream puffs, especially the puff part are one of my favorite things to make in the kitchen. Adding the eggs to that ugly mix of butter, water, and flour seems magical. I was really excited to show this to Julia when she was about five-years-old. She was wholly unimpressed. So it's possibly not a universally stimulating event, but it makes me happy.

See there in the recipe where it says "remove from heat?" It should also say "and place on a potholder or something that won't melt, you ding dong." I use this page as a reminder of exactly which size of saucepan to use when making vanilla pudding.
Cream Puff Recipe


1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour (to make this recipe gluten free use 1 cup of King Arthur gluten free multi-purpose flour OR 3/4 cup rice flour and 1/4 buckwheat flour) 
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400. Heat one cup of water and 1/2 cup of butter to a rolling boil in a saucepan. Stir in one cup of flour. Stir vigorously over low heat for about one minute until the mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir until each egg is completely incorporated and the mixture is smooth before adding the next egg. 

Drop by rounded teaspoon onto an ungreased baking sheet into mounds spaced 3" apart. 

My interpretation of 3" spacing is a bit off. It seems to work okay for me. I also use parchment paper because my baking sheets are embarrassing.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. 

Bake until puffs are golden brown and puffed.

Allow the puffs to cool. Using a sharp knife, cut the tops off and use a spoon to scrape out the gooey stuff inside leaving a nice crispy shell.

If there was a recipe that used the gooey middles of these puffs, that would be something. Since there's nothing I know of, toss the pile of yellowish guts.

Vanilla Pudding


1/2 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch or gluten-free flour (this option can leave a grainy texture)
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks slightly beaten
1 pat butter
1 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, cornstarch (or flour) and salt in a saucepan. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Gradually stir at least half of the mixture into a bowl with the egg yolks. Blend hot mixture including the eggs into the saucepan. Boil for one minute more stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Refrigerate until set.

Left: Boiling milk has always been a mystery to me. This recipe calls for bringing the mixture to a boil and then boiling for one minute. I just try to keep the saucepan from getting clumpy on the bottom and avoid scorching the milk. This is not Martha Stewart's food blog.
Right: By the end when the vanilla is added it already looks like delicious pudding.

Assembling the Cream Puffs

The recipe in my family cookbook calls for stuffing all of the puffs and then refrigerating them. This was the procedure throughout my childhood until we realized that the pudding makes the puff kind of soggy and less than appealing. If you're going to fill all of the puffs, you really only have a few hours to eat all of them. I prefer keeping everything separate: puffs stored in an airtight container on the counter, pudding in the fridge. When we're ready to enjoy a cream puff, we stuff one and eat it. If you want to be fancy, dust a little confectioners sugar on the top. The pastry part would be delightful stuffed with other things, but I prefer the vanilla pudding.

A finished cream puff poses with a strawberry.