Some things are too easy. I mean, some things are hard, like losing weight or talking yourself into finally going to the DMV. But some things are truly simple. Saying I love you to the person who sweeps your off your feet every single day. Adding a splash of milk to your tea and watching it billow and swirl. Breathing deeply as you stand next to the ocean. Some things are so easy, so simple, we forget to marvel at them.
Okay, so maybe these are just cream puffs, and while they might not be on of life’s marvels, they do taste pretty marvelous, and they’re unbelievably easy to make yourself. I’m still working on my technique, getting the size and shape of the puffs uniform, achieving a perfectly smooth pastry cream, but the flavor and texture that make cream puffs so awesome, are much easier to achieve than it may seem.
The thing that makes these recipe even awesomer is the fact that it’s so customizable. Pate choux dough can be sweet or savory. You can fill that steam-induced pocket with anything from cheese to ice cream to ganache. So much good food, so little time. Just too easy.
Just because something looks complex doesn’t mean it is. Let’s start this year being fearless. Step 1: Try making your own cream puffs. Step 2: Conquer the world!
- 1-1/2 plus 1/8 cups whole milk
- 3/8 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/8 cup corn starch
- 2 egg yolks
- For the pate-choux
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, combine 1-1/2 cups whole milk, sugar, and salt. Allow it to heat up until it starts to bubble.
- While you're waiting for this to happen, combine your remaining 1/8 cup milk with the corn starch in a small bowl. Stir together until dissolved.
- Separate your eggs and whisk your egg yolks together in a bowl.
- As soon as the milk and sugar on the stove starts to boil, pour in the milk and corn starch mixture while whisking gently. Continue to stir as it thickens. This will take about two minutes.
- Scoop out a few tablespoons of the hot milk mixture and gently whisk them in to the egg yolks, then add the egg yolks back in to the pot and continue to whisk gently for another two minutes or so until thickened. The pastry cream should look yellowish, thick and wobbly.
- Pour the cream into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, allowing it to actually touch the complete surface of the cream in the bowl. Put this in the fridge to chill for at least two hours. Overnight is fine.
- Preheat your oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Add the water, butter, and salt to a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. When the water is boiling and the butter is melted, add in the flour. Stir this together with a wooden spoon until it forms one big dough ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
- Transfer your dough to a bowl with an electric mixer, if you have it. (This can also be done with a wooden spoon and a strong arm.) Turn the mixer on low and add the eggs, one at a time. Allow this to mix for several minutes until the dough is smooth.
- Transfer your dough to a pastry bag or zip top bag and snip the tip. Pipe your dough onto your parchment-lined baking sheet in small round dollops, about the size of a ping pong ball.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until puffy and golden brown. Allow puffs to cool completely before filling.
- The assemble, open up each puff by cutting about three quarters of the way around the circumference of each puff. There should be a cavity in the middle created by the steam.
- Transfer your pastry cream to a pastry bag or zip top bag and snip the tip. Gently lift up the lid on each puff, and squeeze some cream inside. Dust with powdered sugar if you like.
- Share them with your friends and feel like a genius.