It all started with a Cream Puff
When people find out that I like to bake and cook, I often get the question "How did it all start?". Of course, I've always had a passion for food, and I can distinctly recall fond memories in my childhood all centering around something food related. But for baking, this was a little different, and it started a little later than I would have liked, but hey, better late than never. I won't ever be some child prodigy, but at least I can whip up a some delicious cream puffs in about an hour.
And this, my friends, is the dish that really started it all. I made some cream puffs using a recipe I found on allrecipes.com. I brought it to school and I found out what it was like to be popular for the first time (Haha!) My friends gobbled them up within minutes. I felt a surge of self-confidence and it felt like I achieved some level of self-actualization. All that aside, I think I saw people legitimately smile as soon as they bit into the Chou pastry.Their happiness was caused by something I created with my own two hands. That was it. Fate had decided that baking was going to be a huge part of my life.
Over the years I've made it again and again. It's so simple to make, but you could customize it and add things to make it a dessert on another level entirely. The only downside to it is that you have to enjoy it just as they are made so that you could still get the crispness of the choux puff. If not, it'll get rather soggy, and that's no fun. I tried the gigantic cream puffs at Cream Whiskers in Austin, TX and they were divine. You can add ice cream and flavor it how you like, and of course it's made to order. They put the empty choux into a toaster just before putting in the other sweet ingredients, so you get to enjoy the dessert at it's best. Check it out if you ever find yourself in Austin!
Sometimes an idea for a cake or a dish/dessert pops into my head, and it will not go away. I have to make it. I guess that was the case for these cream puffs, because I've made them for two weekends now. Of course, I made some improvements this past weekend, and I'm comfortable enough to share this recipe for these strawberries and cream choux puffs. It's simple, easy, and delicious! The crispy choux is topped with a crumbly sugar topping and then filled with slightly sweet whipped cream and ripe, ruby red strawberries. It's a light and deliciously satisfying dessert. I also pondered on how I could make this dessert easy to eat and transportable. Usually, you can cut the choux puff in half and just put in the fillings, but that's not easy to bring to a party. I piped in the filling from the bottom, and dipped the bottom of the cream puff with chocolate so there wouldn't be any leaks.
You gotta be careful eating these though, they'll spill everywhere. But, there are several ways to eat a cream puff: eat it upside down, or split it in half (lengthwise) before you bite into it. This basic choux recipe is very versatile, and you can even use them in savory recipes. Add some shredded cheese to make some cheese puffs, or fill with cream cheese and top with some chives and smoked salmon. It's perfect party food! If you're going for dessert- fill it with whatever you like- caramel, nutella, ice cream, etc. It's the perfect recipe to unleash your creativity. Have fun!
Strawberries & Cream Cream Puffs (Basic Choux Recipe)
For the Choux Pastry
1 cup of flour
1 cup of water
1 stick of butter
Pinch of salt
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of flour
5 tbs of butter, softened
For the filling
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup of minced strawberries (the strawberries must be small enough so that it could be piped in the choux puffs. If this is too much work for you, just puree the strawberries instead).
1/4 cup of sugar (for the strawberries)
1/3 cup of sugar (for the whipped cream)
1tsp of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp of vanilla extract
- Mix the 1/4 cup of sugar, strawberries, and balsamic vinegar and set aside. If you're not mincing the strawberries, puree them in a blender.
- Mix together the brown sugar, 3/4 cup of flour and 5 tbs of butter until a soft dough forms. Place the dough on a sheet of wax or parchment paper and place another sheet of parchment paper on top. Roll the dough to a 1/4 of an inch thickness. Place in the freezer to chill.
- Preheat the oven to 420 F
- In a saucepan, heat water, butter, and salt to a rolling boil. Dump in all the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a ball of dough forms. Transfer the dough into a heatproof or glass bowl.
- Stir/move around the dough to release some of the steam. Do this for about 5 minutes.
- Using a wooden spoon, mix in one egg at a time. The dough will separate and look like scrambled eggs, but keep mixing until its combined. Each time an egg is fully incorporated, add another egg. It should look like smooth mashed potatoes each time an egg is fully mixed, so until your dough looks that way, don't add another egg.
- Your dough should look like super smooth mashed potatoes. Transfer the dough into a piping bag and pipe 1-2 inch wide mounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Take out the brown sugar dough from the freezer. Using a circle cookie cutter, cut out circles and place each one on top of a mound of dough.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Once done, take a toothpick and puncture a small hole in each choux puff. This allows the steam to escape and will ensure that the puff keeps it's shape. Once the puffs have cooled, cut a small hole on the bottom of each choux puff.
- For the filling, whip the sugar and whipped cream until you get medium peaks. Fold in the strawberry mixture. Transfer the cream into a piping bag and pipe filling through the hole you made in step 9. Apply even, steady pressure when piping in the filling.
- These steps are optional, but you could melt some chocolate and dip the bottom of the cream puff. Set on a tray with parchment paper and chill until the chocolate has set.
- Sift powdered sugar over the choux puffs. Enjoy!
Other variations: green tea cream puffs, nutella cream puffs, mixed fruit and whipped cream.
Have a great week!