Next time . . . I’ll just buy cream puffs at H-E-B! The cream puffs were not uniform. The custard didn’t receive the attention it needed (cook washed dishes when she should have been constantly stirring). The Profiteroles were delicious but so are the cream puffs one purchases at the grocery store. Soooo – next time, I’ll just trek to the grocery store — rather than a few hours in the kitchen, I will settle down with a good book and a cup of tea. That will be Time Better Spent. I am always reading three — or four — books at once and in the time it took to make these Profiteroles, I likely could have finished one of them.
Pate a Choux (Cream Puffs)
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 4 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white
Preheat oven to 420 degrees F. line a baking sheet either with parchment paper or with the non-stick baking mat. NOTE: Do not grease baking sheet, as the grease will cause the dough to flatten. Cut up butter into small pieces.
1 – Bring butter, sugar, salt, and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir in flour. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture pulls away from sides and a film forms on bottom of pan, about 3 minutes.
2 – Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until slightly cooled, about 1 minute. Raise speed to medium; add whole eggs, 1 at a time, until a soft peak forms when batter is touched with your finger. If peak does not form, lightly beat remaining egg white, and mix it into batter a little at a time until it does. When all the eggs are absorbed, the dough is ready to use. The dough should be soft and a little sticky, but be able to hold its shape.
Using two teaspoons: With one spoon, scoop up about 2 tablespoons batter for a large puff, 1 tablespoon for a medium-size puff, or 1 1/2 teaspoons for a cocktail-size puff. With other spoon, push batter off first spoon and drop in a mound onto prepared baking sheet. Place mounds about 2 inches apart.
Using plastic bag: Place dough into bag. Cut the end off one corner with scissors, to make an opening about 1/4 inch. Squeeze the mixture onto the pans.
Using pastry bag: Put a 1/4-inch star tip into your pastry bag. Fill the bag with the dough. Squeeze the dough out in a circle motion to create small silver dollar-sized circles.
NOTE: to smooth out any parts that stick up when you squeeze out the dough, just wet your finger in water or milk and smooth out. You can also glaze the puffs with a beaten egg wash to give it a shine. In this case, use a pastry brush to smooth out the top as you glaze it.
Bake time varies depending on how big your blobs are. For 2-inch puffs, bake for a total of about 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through (switch pans so the top one is on the bottom rack and vice versa). At one minute into the baking, lower heat to 375 degrees F. and continue baking until golden brown. Approximately 5 to 10 minutes longer for the small puffs, and 15 to 20 minutes longer for large puffs.
Remove from the oven and immediately prick the lower side of each puff with the tips of a sharp knife. Turn off oven and return puffs to the oven. Leave the door open slightly and allow the puffs to dry out for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and oven and let puffs cool completely on the baking sheet on a wire rack before filling.
For best results, use puffs within 24 hours, or wrap airtight and freeze.
Cream Pastry Filling
3 cups whole milk
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or Vanilla Crush; or 1/2 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise
• 1/4 cup cornstarch
• 1 tablespoon King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
• 4 large egg yolks
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1. In a heavy saucepan, stir together the milk and 1/4 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Stir together the remaining sugar and cornstarch; then stir them into the egg until smooth. When the milk comes to a boil, drizzle it into the bowl in a thin stream while mixing so that you do not cook the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly so the eggs do not curdle or scorch on the bottom.
3. When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, remove from the heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla, mixing until the butter is completely blended in. Pour into a heatproof container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled before using.
Pastry cream will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days. After that, it may start to weep.
• If you want the pastry cream to be sliceable, as for a cream pie, don’t fold in the whipped cream. The recipe will yield 3 cups of pastry cream in that case.
Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce
Makes about 3 cups
• 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
• 1/4 cup dark corn syrup
• 1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in large saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until melted and smooth Let stand until slightly cooled and thickened, about 20 minutes. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Stir over low heat until just warm before serving.)