|Cream Puff shells|
Cream puffs or eclairs are surprisingly easy to make but give off the impression you are an amazing skillful pastry chef. I like to make mini ones. That way people don't feel like fatties when they pick one up. After gorging on food people do not want to pick up a softball sized dessert. They want one of my adorable little cream puffs. they will think, "why not have one, they are so small". And then once they eat one, they will eat at least two more.
I make my cream puffs about the size of a toonie. Um.. for you non Canadians that is about a smidgen over an inch in diameter. And my eclairs about 2 inches long, half an inch wide. Give yourself about 1-2 hours to make these And you MUST serve them that day. You can make the shells in advance but they will not be the same. These are not hard gingerbread men that can support lob-sided tables and hold your papers down on a windy day. These are light and fluffy and fresh, but will not stay that way for long.
Here is my no fail recipe.
|New York Times cook book. My family calls this the "French cookbook" (???). My parents have had this cookbook for at least 30 years. We consult it for everything. It is fantastic. It is similar in style to a Joy of Cooking.|
From the New York Times Cook Book:
Cream Puff Shells (10 large or a at least 50 small ones)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs
- preheat oven to 450 F
- Combine water, butter and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add flour all at once. Stir vigorously until the mixture come together into a ball.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat until the mixture is smooth. I just use a spoon for this.
- Fill a pastry bag or zip-lock bag with the mixture and pipe onto a greased baking sheet. I line my baking sheets with parchment paper and don't bother greasing them. For the cream puffs I make a 2 cm wide blob and for the eclairs I make a 3cm long 1cm wide blob.
- Bake 3-5 min at 450 then turn the oven down to 350 F and bake another 10min give or take. I never really time these. They take about 10-15 minutes in total to bake. I take them out when they are a nice golden brown, firm to the touch and no fat bubbles remain on the surface. If you under bake them, the cavity will not be totally hollow and it will be a little gummy, but you can just take that part out and eat it before filling them :) .
|STEP TWO: This is what it should look like at the end of step 2. OK so it is not REALLY a ball.|
|STEP THREE: After adding the eggs. Now you are ready to fill a pastry bag.|
|STEP FOUR: pipe onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Tip: wet your finger tip and push down any peaks, those will cook to fast and possible burn.|
|Finished baking. These will only take a few minutes to cook down.|
Please please please make your own whipped cream. It takes 3 minutes and you can really taste the difference.
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 3 tbs cnvectioners sugar (icing sugar)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Chill your mixing bowl and beaters
- Put all of the ingredients in a bowl.. and beat away. Beat until the cream forms stiff peaks. (ie. when you pull out the beaters they leave little pointy mountains of cream)
Cup open the top on the shells (I like to use scissors) and/or punch a hole in the side of the eclair shells with the tip of the scissors, a knife or your finger. All of the shells should/will be hollow.
|Cutting open the cream puff shells|
|The finished product. After filling with whipped cream I like to drizzle on some melted dark chocolate.|
Here is another potential for a screw up. Do not bother with a ganache, just melt chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler or even the stove top (in a good heavy bottom pot). To pipe the chocolate I use a sandwich baggy. Put the slightly cooled chocolate into the baggy, cut a small hole in the corner and pipe away.