Friday, April 8, 2011

Cream Puffs

It's Spring in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. That means unsettled weather. One moment there are beautiful blue skies above and then within minutes, from the west come big, dark rain clouds that burst open in a torrent.  But there are also the white, fluffy, multishaped cumulonimbus clouds that remind me of cream puffs. (Without thick, rich chocolate sauce dripping from them.)
Cream puffs are so easy to make and when served with some whipped cream and chocolate sauce dripping down to the plate, you've got yourself an elegant end to any meal. Give them a try sometime for a special treat.

Cream Puffs

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Set aside.

Place the butter and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and, with a wooden spoon or spatula, quickly add the flour mixture. Return to heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about a minute or two). Transfer the dough to your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, and beat on low speed a minute or two to release the steam from the dough. Once the dough is lukewarm start adding the lightly beaten eggs and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste. Spoon or pipe 6 mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, spacing them a couple of inches apart. Beat together the egg and salt for the glaze. With a pastry brush, gently brush the glaze on the tops of the dough.
Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake for a further 30 to 40 minutes or until the shells are a nice amber color and when split, are dry inside. Turn the oven off and, with the oven door slightly ajar, let the shells dry out for a further 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
To serve, slice open cream puff. Spoon in some whipped cream and pour over your favorite chocolate sauce. Serve immediately.

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