Saturday, September 24, 2011

Yummy Cream Puffs

Tonight  I made homemade cream puffs using an old family recipe. I have no idea where my Nana got this recipe, but she made them for us almost weekly growing up. She even made hundreds and hundreds of mini cream puffs for my parents wedding. I learned to make them by myself in college--while on the phone with my Nana to guide me through the process. 
I've been craving them and it's been a long time since I made them. So I caved and made them. They turned out so yummy that I want to share the recipe. :)

Because it's a puff pasty shell, some people are scared of making them, but the great thing about these is that even if the pasty doesn't puff up all pretty, it will still taste delicious.

Another hard thing about these is that they are a bit time consuming. Each recipe makes 12-16 (depending on the size) cream puffs per batch. And you can't double a recipe. If you want more, you have to start over and make another batch. Sorry. 

One nice thing is that if you use sugar free/fat free pudding and cool whip, it's actually a *fairly* healthy-ish dessert. Unless you're counting calories. I bet there's a lot of those. But if you're not, you're as golden as the cream puffs!

Alright here is the list of ingredients:

Puff Pastry Shell:
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

1 large box Vanilla Instant Pudding 
2 1/2 cups Milk
3 pkg. of Dream Whip or 1 tub of Cool whip or 1 pint of Heavy Whipping Cream (I used Whipping Cream this time because I had it on hand. I've decided that Dream Whip is my favorite, but I usually use Cool Whip (off brand) because it is cheapest and easiest.)
1 1/2 cups Milk (if using Dream Whip)

Chocolate Sauce
Or Whatever You Want :)

Ok. Here's how to make the pastry shell. The first part went so fast that I didn't get any pictures, but here's what to do. 

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (Very important--oven needs to be hot when the pastry goes in.)

2) Boil water, butter, and salt together until butter is melted. 

3) Add flour all at once (but be careful not to splatter the water/butter mixture--it burns--not that I would know from personal experience or anything...). Stir until mixture until it pulls away from the sides of the pan--Do not over mix--once it sticks together, stop mixing. Let it cool slightly.

4) Beat eggs in 1 at a time, beating vigorously--by hand--until smooth.  (CAUTION: Do not over mix it. Once it is smooth, stop mixing. If you do, it won't puff up and be as pretty.) 

Note that each egg will become progressively harder to mix it and it will take longer to mix. That is okay. Just keep mixing, but don't over mix!
What it looks like as you mix in the eggs. Just keep mixing.
All smooth and pretty! 
5) Drop onto an well oiled cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Lightly shape the lumps into more ball-like shapes. Try to not touch the dough too much at this point. 
It's totally cool if they are oddly shaped. :)
6) Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Even if it doesn't look like it's done, it's okay. 

7) Turn down the oven to 300 degrees F and leave the shells in the oven to cook for another 20-30 minutes or until dry. 

8) Cool completely. If I'm only making one batch, I usually just turn off the oven and let the pan just sit in oven until the oven is completely cool. This helps the pastries dry even more. Usually this is another 20-45 minutes depending on your oven. The longer the better. You want the pastry to dry out really well.

9) Once cool, split the shells in half and empty the middles--the soft part that is through out the middle of the pastry. Eat the middles--or save them to eat with the extra pudding mixture.

10) Mix up the pudding according to directions on the box, and let set (5 minutes in the fridge). Once the pudding is set, mix in the Cool whip/whipping cream/ dream whip completely. Spoon the filling into the middle of both sides of the shells and refrigerate until ready to serve.

11) Drizzle chocolate sauce and any other toppings.  Unfortunately I didn't have any chocolate sauce this time. Still delicious though!

12) Eat. Enjoy. Love. Crave more. Eat more. 

When eating, try eating each half separately. It makes it easier. Trust me, I know. :)

One of my favorite things growing up was that Nana would make WAY too much filling and then she would let us eat it for breakfast the next morning. Best breakfast EVER! :)

Be brave. Try the recipe. Love the creamy puffiness. Best of luck!

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