Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cream Puffs

Simple Cream Puff
This recipe came from my food-pushing grandmother on my mom's side.  Whenever we would visit her and Grandpa in their home in the hills of Santa Cruz, California, she would knock herself out day and night cooking and baking up tasty treats.  I remember waking up in early in the morning to the sounds of Grandma clanking pots and pans and opening and closing the oven behind the wooden slider door that separated the kitchen from the living room where I slept on the sofa bed.  I would lie cozy under the covers, staring at the sparkly popcorn ceiling, listening to those noises, smelling the warm scent of Parkerhouse rolls emanating from that kitchen, and I would feel welcomed and loved.  I knew as soon as I stepped into that kitchen, Grandma would have a plateful of those rolls and a stick of butter waiting for me at the kitchen table.  I would sit next to Grandpa in his easy chair, and watch the morning news as I ate as many of those tender brown-on-the-outside-yellow-on-the-inside rolls as I wanted to.  God bless that woman for instilling in me a passion for baking as well as a passion for family.  
I'll have to post that Parkerhouse roll recipe soon, but for now, here is another of her love-filled recipes for a sweet treat that tastes deceptively light.

Cream Puffs


  • 1 pkg (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 ¾ cups milk 
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Powdered sugar for garnish
1. Bring water and butter to a boil.  Add the flour all at once & stir vigorously until it forms a ball.  Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally.
2.  When water-butter-flour mixture is cool, beat in eggs, one at a time, until smooth each time. Scrape into a gallon-size plastic storage bag.  Snip off about ½” of one corner to make a pastry bag. 
3.  Preheat oven to 450°F.  Chill the bowl and whisk attachment of a standing mixer, or other mixing bowl and beaters.
4.  Squeeze out blobs that are about 3 tablespoons worth of the paste onto two parchment-lined baking sheets.  (More paste for larger puffs, less for smaller puffs)  Blobs should be at least 2 inches apart.
5.  Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes—then turn oven down to 350°F for 15-20 minutes, or until well-puffed and light brown.
6.  Move puffs to wire racks.  Poke each one with a toothpick or a sharp knife to allow steam to escape.  Once cool, cut each puff horizontally in the middle.
7.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together milk and pudding powder.  Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes or more.
8. Pour the heavy cream into the chilled mixer bowl.  Whip on high speed until almost stiff peaks form.   Then fold pudding into whipped cream. (Use 1/2 to all of the pudding, depending on how sweet you want your cream puffs to be.)  Do not over-mix.  Scrape about half of this mixture into a gallon size zip top bag.
9.  Snip about 1/2 inch off the tip of the zip top bag.  One puff at a time, open the top and squeeze in to fill the bottom, and top, if necessary, of the puff.  Return top to its puff.  
10.  Plate puffs and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Makes 12 large, 18 medium, or 24 small cream puffs. 

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