My husband is not a big fan of cake, so for his birthday each year, I make cream puffs for him. He loves these so much, I have to make sure he only eats one or two at a time so he doesn't make himself sick! There are several cream puff recipes out there, but this vanilla pastry cream is a bit different from the others and it's really wonderful. Prep time does not include 2 hours chilling of pastry cream. From the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook.
- 1⁄2 cup butter
- 1 cup water
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs
Vanilla Pastry Cream
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- 1⁄4 cup flour
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1⁄2 cups milk
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
semisweet chocolate glaze (or just dust with powdered sugar)
- 2 semi-sweet chocolate baking squares
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- Make vanilla pastry cream:.
- In 2 quart saucepan, combine sugar, flour and salt; stir in milk.
- Over medium heat, cook, stirring until mixture thickens and boils, about 10 minutes.
- Boil 1 minute.
- In a small bowl with fork, beat 6 egg yolks slightly.
- Beat small amount of heated milk mixture into yolks.
- Slowly pour egg mixture back into milk mixture, stirring.
- Cook over medium low heat, stirring till mixture thickens and coats spoon well, about 8 minutes (do not boil).
- To check thickness, lift metal spoon from mixture and hold up 15 seconds - spoon should not show through mixture.
- Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
- At this point I usually put this custard through a strainer to get out any lumpy cooked egg pieces.
- Cover surface with plastic wrap, and chill well, about 2 hours.
- When custard is cool, in a small bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat heavy/whipping cream till stiff peaks form.
- With a rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into custard.
- Spray 1 or 2 large cookie sheets with nonstick spray. Heat oven to 375.
- In 2 qt saucepan over medium heat, heat butter, water and salt till butter mixture boils.
- Remove from heat.
- Add flour all at once. With a wooden spoon, vigorously stir until mixture forms a ball and leaves sides of pan.
- Add eggs to the flour mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition, till smooth.
- Cool mixture slightly.
- Using a large spoon and rubber spatula, drop batter onto cookie sheets int 12 large mounds, 3 inches apart, swirling the top of each.
- (for eclairs, instead of mounds, spread the choux paste into 5" by 3/4" rectangles).
- Bake 50 minutes (this is what the original recipe says - however, I NEVER bake them that long - more like 35 minutes - go by your own oven - if they're looking puffed and browned and dry, they're probably done).
- At this point, remove from oven, cut a small slit in the side of each puff and return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Turn off oven and let dry for 5-10 minutes (I don't usually do this and it doesn't seem to matter too much).
- When puffs are cool, slice top off of each - there will probably be some webby looking soft dough inside - carefully pull this out to make it hollow.
- Fill each shell with the chilled pastry cream.
- Replace top and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- For Eclairs:.
- Go through the same process, but top with semisweet chocolate glaze: In saucepan, melt 2 squares semisweet chocolate and 2 T butter, stirring constantly (or heat briefly in the microwave to melt) Stir in 1 cup powdered sugar and 3 T milk till smooth.