Post # 327 National Cream Puff Day

January 2, 2015 at 2:08 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 327 National Cream Puff Day

What a day, what a day.  Way back in the misty yesteryears (and I do mean years) when I was still figuring out this whole cooking thing, a dear friend gave me one of my first cookbooks.  I still have it, and I still cook from it, but not as much as I used to.  It’s called The Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook.  She got it for me because even then, I was a serious chocoholic.  It was almost a religion for me.  It was a Christmas present and we were at her house exchanging gifts since she would be heading home to Montana in a day or two.

I flipped through that cookbook, enchanted by what I saw.  There was the basic Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake.  Plus there was a Peppermint Chocolate Cake, a bundt cake where you cut the top off, scooped out the interior, made a pastry cream dyed pink with a light taste of peppermint, filled the center, put the top back on, and frosted it.  The picture looked amazing.  My efforts, not so much.  There was a recipe for Sour Cream Chocolate Cake and Frosting which turned out to be delicious.

As I flipped on, I kept talking about each one and showing pictures.  Suddenly, I stopped at one and read the recipe.  How simple.  How cool.  Sounded delicious.  I held up the picture and asked, “Interested?”

It was chocolate cream puffs with ice cream filling.

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Her eyes lit up and together we figured out what we had on hand and what we’d need and headed out to the store.

When we returned, we heated the oven to 400 degrees and sprayed a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Then we set a cup of water, a 1/2 cup of butter, and a pinch of salt to boiling.  Once it was boiling, we took the pan off the heat and added a whole cup of flour and 4 tablespoons of cocoa all at once and stirred it together until it formed a stiff dough.  We put it back over the heat until it formed a smooth ball and was no longer sticky.  We took it off the heat and added four eggs, one at a time.  We beat the dough thoroughly after each egg to make certain it was fully incorporated.  Sometimes you’ll add a fifth egg to make sure the dough is fluid enough, but four large eggs is usually plenty.

Then we spooned the dough into a zip lock bag since we didn’t have a pastry bag.  You can also use a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper to create a cone, but a zip lock bag works best as long as the dough isn’t hot enough to melt the plastic.  We snipped a small piece from a corner to create the tip and piped out about two tablespoons of dough in a mounded pattern onto the prepared baking sheet.

We baked the dough for 40 minutes until they were completely set and dry in the center.  After they cooled, the magic of this dough was revealed.  When you slice them open, the interior is hollow with small shreds of dough to be picked out.  The hollow interior can be filled with all kinds of yummy things.

We chose strawberry ice cream.

A scoop of ice cream in the bottom piece of the shell, then put the top back on.  Drizzle with whatever glaze you liked.  We used chocolate syrup, but you can make whatever you like.

Ta da!   They were done and we were chowing down on ice cream filled chocolate cream puffs.

However, regular cream puffs are made the same way, omitting the cocoa.

Cream puffs are basically puff pastry shells filled with pastry cream.

cream puff 3

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They can be large, to be eaten in several bites, or small to pop into your mouth and munched in one bite.  You can also make them into several shapes or designs.  This one is a very popular one:

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In case it’s hard to see, that’s a swan.  One of the more common forms is the éclair.

eclairs

Éclairs use the exact same pastry, but are piped into long shapes instead of round balls.  And as you can see from the pictures, the filling can be piped directly into the pastry, or the pastry can be cut and overfilled with the top being put back on.

The fillings can be pretty much whatever you like.  Some people prefer a lighter, whipped filling.

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While some people prefer a tastier, chocolate filling.

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Ice cream is popular, too.  You can also create a savory filling rather than a sweet filling.  Chicken salad, lobster salad, spinach and cheese filling, cold cuts, chunked cheese, melted cheese or cheese sauce.  It’s really up to the chef.

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So, enjoy your cream puffs or whatever else you’re going to put into it!

 

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