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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cream Puffs: The Story of Sweet Success

Had to think a while about my first entry. There’s so much I want to share, but first things first. I’ve decided to honour the person who encouraged me to start this blog and provided the technical support needed to actually set it up and get it going.

So Elizabeth, a big thanks as I feature your favourite dessert.

I’ve always believed that food experiences make for some of the best memories and hopefully not too many bad ones. Cream puffs and sweet success are a combination of words that can only bring a huge smile to Elizabeth’s face for years to come.

During her university years, each time she passed a set of exams or graduated, actually after any notable accomplishment a white pastry box would appear in the fridge.

It was tied up with pretty ribbon and had a tag attached on which was written “sweet success”. Actually, those were the words written on the first tag. Subsequent tags read “more sweet success and more and more sweet success etc.” Needless to say, I’ve made a lot of cream puffs. I think she’s working on something else as I write this so she can get more cream puffs.

My childhood recollection of cream puffs is quite different but just as memorable.

In those days, you could buy a prepackaged box of ingredients. You actually got two sticks of a shortening and flour mix, they were about the size of two sticks of butter. You would crumble them into a bowl and then beat in four eggs one at a time.

We didn’t own an electric mixer. The next best thing on hand was a sturdy wooden spoon.

So we only baked cream puffs when we could talk my father into providing the manpower needed to incorporate those eggs into the ingredients from the box. Most times he would comply but I do remember a few disappointing occasions.

My recipe for cream puffs is simple and I’ve used it for many years. How could four simple ingredients that are actually staples in most kitchens be transformed into such delightful morsels you might ask? You’re going to have to find out for yourself. I’m going to the kitchen to bake a batch so that I can post a picture for you.

Yes Elizabeth, I’ll save you some but this time the “sweet success” is all mine!

Cream Puffs Recipe

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup water
6 tablespoons corn oil
¼ teaspoon of salt
4 large eggs

  1. Bring the water, oil and salt to a boil. Remove from heat and add the flour all at once.
  2. Stir until it forms a ball. Transfer batter to a clean bowl and cool for a minute or two then with mixer beat in eggs one at a time making sure that each egg is well mixed in before adding the next one.
  3. Place batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip or plain round tip and pipe onto a greased and floured cookie sheet. (either cream puff shape or small éclairs)
  4. Bake in a preheated 425 F oven for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 to 35 more minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven and immediately make a slit in each puff to let steam escape (don’t cut it right through)
  6. Cool completely on a rack. Fill with sweetened, vanilla flavoured whipping cream (35% cream)
  7. Sift icing sugar or melted chocolate over the tops. Makes about 24 to 30 depending on the size you make.
Notes, Tips and Suggestions
  • Instead of greasing and flouring pans, parchment paper works very well, also less cleanup.
  • Remember that cooking times given are approximate since oven temperatures and size of puffs vary.
  • Fill with your favourite custard or even ice cream instead.
  • No piping bag? Drop batter from a tablespoon instead in the shape you want.
  • These are more like 2 or 3 bite cream puffs, you can make larger ones if you want. The good news about this size is that you can actually eat 2 of these before you start counting the calorie intake .
  • When refrigerating leftovers, do not close in airtight container, cover loosely with wax paper to prevent puffs from getting soggy.
  • After making a slit in them ,while they are still on the cooling rack, return them to the warm oven for 15 to 20 minutes (oven must be turned off.) This will give you a drier crisper shell that will resist getting soggy as fast.
Now enjoy your “sweet success”

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