Is there anybody you know who doesn’t like cream puffs? I mean, what’s not to like about them? They are light and fluffy and filled with a custard-y pudding (or other delicious filling) and topped with a chocolate ganache topping. The first time I served these at a family get together, the guys gave them the nick-name of “cram-puffs!” (That’s because they “crammed” them into their mouths all at once!) But we women like to enjoy every little bite!
They look like they would be difficult to make, but on the contrary! They are so easy! Cream puffs, which are sometimes called Profiteroles (or pâte à choux) become hollow in the middle and dry out as they bake, so they are perfect for adding in a delicious filling. They can be filled with whipped cream, custard, pudding or ice cream. When topped with a chocolate ganache frosting, they are over-the-top delicious!
The baked cream puff shells freeze beautifully, so they can be made ahead, frozen, then thawed and filled just before serving. Sometimes I “cheat” and use a packaged vanilla pudding mix. (The cook and serve kind) or they can be made with a thick homemade stirred custard or pudding.
Here’s the recipe:
1 c. water
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned into cup and leveled with a knife)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for the egg wash)
Preheat oven to 425°. Combine butter, water, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until butter melts. Reduce heat to medium.
Add flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball. It will take about 30 seconds to 1 minute. (Don’t worry, it’s supposed to look like this!)
Remove from heat & let cool for a minute or two. Then, with an electric handheld mixer, beat in the eggs, a little bit at a time, until completely incorporated (dough will look sort of shiny and will be soft enough to slowly fall off a the beaters.)
Drop heaping tablespoons of batter (or use a Stainless Steel Scoop – from Amazon.com) onto parchment lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart. You should have about 24 to 28 puffs.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush puffs with the egg wash (made from the egg yolk + 1 teaspoon water.)
Put the puffs into the pre-heated oven and bake about 25 minutes (about halfway through the baking time, rotate the baking sheets.) They will become puffed and golden brown.) Remove from the oven and turn the oven OFF. Using a toothpick, poke a small hole into each puff. Return them to the oven (remember, the oven is off) and leave for about 10 minutes (this helps the puffs to dry out.)
Allow to cool on wire racks. At this point, they can be frozen to use later. Just thaw them for a few minutes before filling them.
When cool, cut each puff horizontally with a serrated knife and fill with prepared vanilla pudding or ice cream and top with chocolate ganache. chocolate sauce or frosting.