Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Food 911

I have an insane amount of milk left along with an abundance of eggs, while I was thinking about how to use them I thumbed through our family holiday cookbook.

I am in the process of creating handwritten cookbooks with family favorites for each of my sons, but the holiday one is just recreating one I started when my older two sons were very young and I was flipping through it making critical decisions about what stays and what can be edited out.  As I was looking through it, I saw the recipe for cream puffs and for old fashioned pastry cream.  Since the recipes use a total of nine eggs and a cup and a half of milk (plus TheHub really loves them) I thought it would be a great idea to make them.

The cream puffs are just your basic choux dough, and you can find a recipe for it just about anywhere, but this is the one I use when I am making something sweet.

Cream Puffs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
5 eggs

Pour 1 cup boiling water in a saucepan, add butter and salt.  Cook on low heat until the butter melts. Add the sugar and flour all at once and beat well over low heat  with a wooden spoon until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Remove the pan from the heat and cool for about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated in the dough before adding the next.  When all of the eggs are mixed  in and the dough is very well mixed, put it in a pastry bag or a plastic bag with one corner cut out of it.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and pipe golf ball size balls of dough, leaving space around each ball.  Pop them into the oven, do not open the door for at least 20 minutes.  At 20 minutes check them. (I generally take them out of the oven at this point and poke a wooden skewer through the top of each one, then put them back in the oven for about 5 more minutes (This allows the inside to dry well) This is a great time to tell you how I screwed this up. I had no parchment paper so I cut a Trader Joe's brown bag to fit the cookie sheets.  It seems that particular paper does not release the cream puffs like parchment does, so the bottom of every single one stuck, leaving me with just the pretty puffy tops. So instead of cream puffs I made cream half puffs. Oh well!

Take them out  of the oven, remove from the baking sheet and cool on racks until they are completely cool.  You have the option of filling them with whipped cream, pudding, cheese cake filling or  whatever else you can imagine.  Personally I only use this very basic pastry cream recipe.

Pastry Cream
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks

Mix the milk and vanilla and set aside. Put the flour, sugar and salt in a medium sauce pan and whisk it well.  Slowly, slowly add the milk mixture, whisking continually until you have a very nice and smooth mixture.  Turn the heat on medium and cook, stirring continually until the mixture thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the custard mix to cool for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile put the egg yolks in a heat proof dish and beat them well.  When the five minutes is up, slowly pour 1/3 of the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. The purpose of this step is to temper the egg yolks and bring their temperature up so they will not cook when you add them to the milk and flour mixture.  If you skip this step and just put them straight in the pan, trust me__you will have cooked eggs in your custard. Pour the heated eggs slowly into the remaining milk mixture, whisking constantly yet again. Return to medium heat and cook while stirring until it boils and thickens enough that a wooden spoon drawn down the center of the pan will leave a "trail".  You can store this in the fridge for a day, but you need to have plastic wrap touching the entire surface of the cream.  If it is exposed to air it will form a "skin" and this is just too tasty to waste.

If you made your cream puffs correctly use a pastry bag to fill the interior of your cream puff.  (Or cut them in half and spoon the filling in them putting them back together kind of like a sandwich) Since I only had halves I just spooned it directly onto the half. I followed it with a drizzle of a very basic chocolate glaze

Chocolate glaze
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup confectioners
1 tablespoon milk (add a few drops more as needed)
Drizzle it over the top of the cream puff , or in my case over the cream in the puff half.

Dang these things are good. I ate 2, I don't know how many TheHub ate but there are only 4 left. Feel free to count and do the math if you wish

These are easy, much easier than it sounds and really tasty.  You can use this same recipe, minus the sugar to make cream puffs to fill with chicken salad, tuna salad, crabmeat, whatever savory thing your heart desires.

And now I have 9 less eggs (well except for 4 egg whites and now I have to find something to do with them) and 1 1/2 cups less milk.  Yay!


  1. Well done you.
    I have avoided choux pastry since a disaster decades ago. Which is not entirely sensible.

    1. I think anyone who ha ever made choux pastry has had a disaster with it. This one was totally my mistake and preventable. Ahhhh, such is the story of my life.

  2. Those look and sound delicious!

  3. I don't think I'm confident enough to try this recipe, but they sure look yummy!

    1. The honestly are pretty easy to make. It sounds way more complicated than they actually are.

  4. The recipe sounds more complicated than I want to make especially since I can take or leave cream puffs. However, I have a friend who always brings cream puffs to all of our get togethers and they are gobbled up immediately. Maybe I should try to make some so I can win friends and influence people. :)

    1. It only sounds complicated. In truth it is very easy. Cream puff are one of my go to desserts when I need to take a dessert somewhere.

  5. I now have a new life plan, I'm going to live with you. I'll even bring good coffee! ;p

  6. Come on down! I'll even let you bring Den as long as you bring good coffee! I figure it won't take long to activate those Southern genes you have.

    1. Can I come too? Those cream puffs look fabulous. I'll bring the wine! Anna

    2. Come on! The more the merrier and the more I can bake (and eat)

  7. Yum! It's been awhile since I last made cream puffs or eclairs, but now, you are making me want to make some! I'd make meringues with the egg whites. Another favorite of mine.

  8. Those look so good. I have an extra box of parchment paper. Will trade for baked goods.


    1. haha! Bring it on! I am always ready for a trade.