Ahhhhhhhh, cream puffs. So cool, creamy and delicious. My mom made them for years, without the chocolate glaze, but I think the glaze turns them into a Boston Cream Pie/donut-sort-of delight. It’s a 3-step process, but they are not terribly difficult to make.
Here’s the basic puff pastry recipe:
1 cup water
1/2 cup (one stick) butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
Heat water, fat and salt to boiling. Simmer until fat has melted.
Reduce heat as much as possible without eliminating it altogether. Add flour all at once. Stir briskly until mixture forms a ball that leaves the sides of the saucepan, but no longer.
Remove from heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until mixture is stiff and glossy.
Scrape rounded tablespoons of paste onto lightly greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake in hot oven (425 degrees) about 50 minutes or until brown and no bubbles show on the surface. Yield: 12 large puffs. Important note: resist the temptation to remove them from the oven too soon, or they will collapse as they cool.
After they cool completely, slice horizontally and remove any wet pastry inside.
Now, about the filling…you can easily find a good recipe for cooked cream filling in an all-purpose cookbook or online. I use Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding* (oh, no!), and I follow the directions for pie filling (uses less milk). Fill the cream puffs, and top with chocolate glaze.
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Hot water, as necessary
Melt chocolate and butter; remove from heat. Stir in confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. (mixture will be very dry and lumpy) Slowly add hot tap water, mixing with a wooden spoon until blended and glossy. Keep adding a bit of hot water until you reach your desired consistency.
Refrigerate and serve cold.
Tastes best served the same day but, trust me, if you cover and refrigerate overnight, you’ll be eating the leftovers like m&m’s.
*Sometimes (usually when I feel the need to impress someone) I’ll whip some heavy cream and fold it into the pudding for a lighter, fluffier filling which completely fills the pastry and looks dazzling on the tray.