Friday, May 30, 2014

Cream Puffs

Have you ever eaten homemade cream puffs? I was about 11 years old when I first tasted these delectable tender treats. My older brother and I were taking a walk past the farm where Rachel lived. She was in my brother’s class at school and he was sweet on her. She was cavorting on the lawn and invited us to join her. We wasted no time taking her up on the proposition.  

It was a hot summer day and we soon rested in the shade on the porch to drink a glass of cold lemonade. A wonderful aroma was escaping from the screen door and I could no longer contain my curiosity.

“Rachel, is your mom baking cookies?” I asked.

“No, that’s cream puffs.”

“What’s a cream puff?”

My brother looked at me and frowned. I could read his mind—Mom said it was impolite to ask people for food, but I wasn’t asking.

“It is a pastry made with lots of eggs, butter, and sugar, with pudding inside,” she said.
“Would you like to try one?”

I looked at Buddy then back at Rachel. “Oh, we don’t want to bother y’all.”

“Oh it’s no bother. Mom is a great cook. When she makes cream puffs she makes a lot.”

Buddy interrupted, “We’d love to.”

Before you know it we were in the kitchen, our mouths watering, looking at all the cream puffs sprinkled in powdered sugar—vanilla, chocolate, and butterscotch. I chose the butterscotch and wanted seconds, but my mother taught us manners. I knew that someday I would make cream puffs and I did.

At the age of 19 my first cookbook, by Meta Given, had a recipe for cream puffs.  No time was wasted in gathering the ingredients needed, and, all my guests raved at the production. Try this recipe yourself and see if you get the same reception.

Pastry ingredients:

1 cup water
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
4 large eggs

In a medium sized pot bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour all at once and stir vigorously until smooth and clumped together. Remove from heat and allow dough to cool for 10 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat with a wooden spoon until well blended.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease two large cookie sheets. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons full—12 on each pan and bake for 15 minutes. Switch shelves and lower temperature to 300 degrees. Continue baking until 30 to 40 total minutes are reached or until light brown. Cool on wire rack. Slice top from each puff and remove any dough inside that is not baked. Fill with whipping cream, or thick pudding and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Pudding filling for Vanilla Cream Puffs:

1 cup white sugar
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups scalded milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Substitutes for white sugar

Use 1 cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons butter for butterscotch pudding, or ¼ cup cocoa powder to basic vanilla pudding recipe for chocolate.

Combine all ingredients sugar through milk. Cook and stir at a simmer.
Whip eggs in small bowl and beat until smooth, add to pudding and return to a simmer until thickened. Add vanilla. Cool completely and use to fill each puff. Don’t forget to sprinkle with powdered sugar. The kids will love making these.