I guess you could call cream puffs a retro dessert. My Mom would whip these lovely, delicate, crispy yet creamy pastries up seemingly on a moment’s notice. Cream puffs were popular in the 1960’s and have long been a favorite of mine. I hadn’t made these in a couple years, but when my good friend was over last month telling me how much she would just love an eclair that wasn’t filled with an over sweet pastry cream and that it didn’t need to be dipped in chocolate either – I told her the best recipe is actually in my Tea With Betty book (which she has) and that Mom’s Pastry Cream and Pate Choux recipes are simple to prepare. She looked at me like, “right, I’m going to make those with two kids and a job” sooooo, I jumped in and said “I’ll make you some for your birthday”…(which was a couple weeks away). When the time came, I was unexpectedly swamped with a work project and didn’t think I could get them done on time. I fretted over this, as I detest not fulfilling a commitment; so, late the night before her birthday, I determinedly pulled my recipes out, read them, realized I actually had all the ingredients on hand and concluded, “I CAN do this!” The next afternoon I delivered a very fresh batch to her on time…and I had fun preparing them. As I delivered her not too sweet puffs, the fragrance wafting from the container took me right back to Mom’s kitchen … so, it was with a double special feeling that I watched Dawn and her family gobble down these delightful sweets. Mom’s pastry cream recipe is here in a post I did a couple years ago.
Sometimes I overthink things … and make mountains out of mole hills (as my husband would attest to), and which is what I did when worrying about baking these on time. My savior of time was dragging out my husband’s big, heavy, 35 year old, avocado green Kitchenaide stand mixer. I used the mixer to finish the pastry cream, then, while it was chilling in the refrigerator, I threw together the pate choux using the mixer. Mom always made her pate choux in a heavy bottom saucepan using a wooden spoon to beat in one egg at a time (a job my sister and I took over as we got into our teens). I must say the mixer did the work beautifully and swiftly.
Below is the pate choux, ready to put in a piping bag and pipe onto parchment for baking…then the finished product just out of the oven. They came out perfectly, a little crisp on the outside and nice and soft on the inside with plenty of room for filling.
I did attempt to make elongated, eclair shaped puffs but they came out rather thin and were difficult to fill…so I opted for round too…they were all just wonderful in the end.
These go really well with a cup of Jasmine pearl green tea.