When I started these food blog entries, I was primarily using them to track recipes I’d found on Pinterest that I wanted to try – and keep a record of the ones I ‘taste verified’ as good. I still want to do that, but I also want to try recipes that will challenge my skills in the kitchen! Today’s attempt is an effort in both.
“Easy” Cream Puffs
I’ve always loved profiteroles. In fact, one of the three holiday desserts I love the most is my aunt’s recipe for them – but the idea of trying to melt the chocolate sauce for the top freaks me out, never mind the pastry that goes with it. So I decided to start with cream puffs and work my way up.
I ran across this recipe on Pinterest (of course), and have been meaning to make it for quite a while. As my housemate was already in a baking mood, I decided to borrow that theme this week and give them a try.
Now, I know that baking is really just science; you take different ingredients and through the process of mixing them together, chemical reactions happen and produce something that is completely different. I can see why it’s considered a type of magic – it really seems like that way, watching how the batter changes with each different ingredient that gets added.
I found mixing the wet ingredients over heat to be an interesting but very effective way to get them blended, never done that in a recipe before. I didn’t have the suggested saucepan however, so I was working with just a general pot (I definitely miss the last kitchen I had to work with at times!) but I didn’t have any problems with the sloped sides.
Adding the eggs was the most interesting, because the original blogger was so insistent on them being added one at a time. They really changed the consistency of the batter – every time I added an egg, the entire thing would separate at first and become super slimy. Couple of minutes of hand mixing (no kitchen aide here) and it would re-combine and become what you think of as batter again.
I thought I’d have a tough time keeping the puffs separated once they started to bake, as I was expecting them to smooth out a little, like cookies do. But as you can see in this and the picture below, that didn’t happen. The form the puffs were in when they went on to the tray is basically what they came out of the oven as. Next time I’ll probably spend a little more care with getting them to be more uniformly “mounded”, since some of them are a little…flat.
Once the puffs were out of the oven, sliced into so they didn’t collapse and were cooling to the side, I got to work on the cream filling. I chose to go with a very simple pastry cream filling (the third option on the original blog), because I prefer a smoother taste that isn’t crazy sweet. I would like to try the hazelnut one at some point, and maybe even find one that is dark chocolate. Although, now that I’ve seen how easy it is to make these, I may just jump directly over to the profiteroles. I actually find this recipe to a bit..chewy in texture. The taste is yummy, but I’m a texture snob.
But back to the filling. The recipe says to combine the ingredients in the top half of a double boiler – which I don’t have. So I did it the old fashioned way, and put a glass bowl with all my ingredients on a pot of boiling water. Either the bowl wasn’t perfectly shaped or (more likely) the pot was slightly misshapen, because the seal wasn’t perfect, I was definitely seeing some spitting and steam was escaping, which may have accounted for why I had to keep the mixture on for about 10 extra minutes for it to start thickening.
Which is a good thing, because when I first added everything together, I’m not afraid to admit I started to *panic* – two cups of milk made it a SOUP, not anything that looked like it would resemble cream in the end. I must have checked the recipe six or seven times, making sure I’d gotten all the measurements right. I nearly threw it out and went to look for something else, but figured I’d come this far, I would at least put it on the stove and see what became of it. It was originally supposed to take about 10 minutes on the stove to thicken up, but around the 15 minute mark there was finally some progress. I let it go for another few minutes as it continued to thicken, then pulled it off and added the vanilla. As it started to cool, FINALLY I saw what I’d been hoping for – the consistency of thick, creamy icing. Whew!
I took the final pictures while the cream filling was still slightly warm, which accounts for it being slightly runny looking. I stuck it in the fridge while I was at dance, fully intending to be done with them for the night – but I couldn’t resist having one (or four) more after I got home, just for tasting purposes for the blog of course. The cream filling is even better now that it’s cooled down, in my opinion!
Of course, the down side of having home made cream puffs in the house is that I now want to EAT THEM ALL. I need someone to cook for, so I don’t have to just make stuff for myself all the time.