I’ve got to admit that an afternoon sitting in the warm sun is very refreshing after these past couple of cold and snowy weeks in Tennessee. We drove across the plateau yesterday afternoon and although the snow was melting and the temps were near 40, the tree branches were still glistening under a layer of ice. It was truly beautiful, but right now I’m enjoying writing my blog post outdoors on this glorious sunshiny 58 degree day! A day like this deserves a special treat, so allow me to give you a play-by-play on making Cream Puffs with Chocolate Custard, a light and airy pastry with a decadent chocolate filling.
Cream puffs begin with a few basic ingredients–water, flour, butter, eggs, and a bit of salt. Making this dough is much easier if you have your ingredients staged and ready. Since the hot dough is mixed by hand, I like using my GIR spatula because it is heat resistant and very sturdy and easy to handle.
First, bring the water, butter, and salt to a roiling boil, then add the flour all at once, reducing the heat to low and stirring vigorously for just a minute or until the dough forms a ball and leaves the side of the pan.
At this point, remove the dough from the heat and add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each egg is incorporated and the dough is smooth and velvety. Try not to let the egg hit the bottom or side of the hot pan or it will begin to cook, Instead, make a small well in the dough and break an egg directly into the well and stir. Once all the eggs are added, drop the dough (about 1/4 cup per puff) onto a cookie sheet and bake for about 40 minutes.
While the puffs are warm, slice off the tops. Remove the soft dough in the middle–just pinch it out–and then let them cool completely before filling.
Being a confessed chocoholic, I filled my puffs with a dreamy-rich homemade chocolate custard, but they would be tasty with a cheesecake or lemon filling, too. Once the puffs are filled, replace the tops and sprinkle with powdered sugar and chill until ready to serve. These little treats are best eaten the same day (don’t give them a chance to become soggy), but no need to worry much about that as they will disappear quickly! Enjoy!
Cream Puffs & Chocolate Custard
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- 1-1//4 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup cocoa
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups milk
- 3 egg yolks slightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a medium saucepan, bring water, butter, and salt to a rolling boil. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously over low heat for about a minute or until a dough is formed and leaves the side of the pan.
- Remove from heat and make a well in the middle of the dough. Add the eggs one at a time by cracking an egg into the dough and beating by hand until the dough is smooth and velvety before adding the next egg.
- Drop the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet--about 1/4 cup per puffs--and bake for 35-40 minutes or until puffed and golden.
- While still warm, slice off the tops. Remove the soft dough inside and allow to completely cool before filling with prepared custard.
- Replace tops and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Chill until ready to serve.
- In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Add milk and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- Boil and stir for another minute. Remove from heat.
- Add a small amount of the chocolate mixture into the beaten egg yolks, stirring well. Add the egg mixture back to the chocolate mixture in the saucepan.
- Stir and heat again just until boiling. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.
- Pour into a bowl and press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard. Cool completely.