I was never a huge fan of cream puffs, but my family and friends would buy a big box of frozen ones from Costco or Sam's and devour them. They were never sweet enough for me, and no one had the patience to let it thaw before eating so I always felt like it just tasted cold.
Let me make something clear, since I was confused about it before as well:
Cream puffs, creme puffs, profiteroles and choux a la creme are all the same thing.
They are choux pastry balls filled with pastry cream or whipped cream, and often dusted with sugar or chocolate.
And when they're piped out long? They're eclairs!
Of course my Laduree cookbook would have a recipe for cream puffs, and of course I had to attempt them. I took these to a party and they were gone very fast. However, they still were not sweet enough for my taste. I guess the inclusion of pistachio didn't really help make it sweeter, but who can go wrong with pistachios?
*I apologize for not having more photos... I would have liked to get a shot of the inside of the cream puff but the weather was not helping and then everyone ended up finishing them all (which is never a bad thing).*
Making profiteroles is one of the easiest things to do in the kitchen. It's a lot of stirring, and then piping onto a sheet like macarons. but they rise up into puffy fluffy balls instead! Baking can be so magical sometimes...
The pastry cream is also very simple and requires stirring and then refrigeration. Next time though, I'm tempted to stuff the puffs with ice cream instead, maybe mint chocolate chip! But then, I will probably end up hoarding all of them... in my belly.
Pate a Choux
1 cup - 1/2 tbs (120g) cake flour
1/2 cup - 1 tbs (100ml) whole milk
1/2 cup - 1 tbs (100ml) water
1 tbs (10g) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
5 1/2 tbs (80g) butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Sift the flour. In a saucepan, bring the milk, water, sugar, salt, and butter to a boil.
Remove from heat.
Incorporate the flour into the hot liquid, mixing energetically with a spatula until homogenous.
Return the saucepan to low heat and stir vigorously for 1 minute to pull out the moisture from the batter, so that it forms a mass and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer the batter to a large bowl and allow to cool.
Add the eggs one at a time, carefully incorporating each into the batter with a spatula.
When homogenous, pipe into small mounds on a baking sheet.
Bake 8-10 minutes.
When they have started to puff up, open the oven door very slightly
Bake for about 30 minutes with the oven door slightly ajar (you can stick a wooden spoon into it)
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Creme Patissiere (Pastry Cream)
1 vanilla bean
1 2/3 cup (400ml) whole milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup and 1 tbs (80g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (30g) cornstarch
2 TBS (25g) butter
3 tbs ground pistachios or pistachio paste
Pour the milk into a saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean in half. Scrape the interior to remove the seeds and add both the pod and seeds to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer.
Remove from heat, cover immediately to allow the vanilla to infuse into the milk for 15 minutes.
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and cornstarch till it's well incorporated. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk and reheat the milk, bringing to a simmer. Pour the hot milk to the yolk mixture in thirds until it's fully incorporated (also to temper the egg yolks). Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a boil while whisking. Keep stirring and the cream will thicken.
Remove from heat when it's thick and pour the cream into a clean bowl. Allow to cool for 10 minutes so that it's still hot but not boiling. Incorporate the butter while stirring. Add in the pistachios and stir well.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap until ready to use.
Use a piping bag with a round tip to poke a hole in the bottom of each puff, and squeeze the cooled cream into each.
Melt some chocolate and dip the tops in them!
So how do you like your cream puffs?