First of all, I would like to "officially" welcome everyone to Cream Puffs in Venice. While a few of you have been aware of my blog for awhile (Mommy and Uncle Nick), this is what I am calling the official launch of my blog.
In the days, months and years to come, I hope this blog will be both an enjoyable read for my family and friends (especially those in the blogging community) and the opportunity for me to finally achieve some of those dreams I’ve had for awhile. More on that to come in the posts ahead.
(Oh yes … this blog is also a good way to finally start using all those cookbooks!!!)
So why the name Cream Puffs in Venice? Well, for starters, cream puffs were probably the first "difficult" pastry that I tried my hand at. The funny thing is that making cream puffs isn’t all that hard.
Cream puffs are made from what is commonly referred to as choux pastry. Unlike other types of butter-based pastry such as puff pastry, there’s no rolling or chilling involved. Choux pastry is essentially a blending of water, butter, flour and eggs. The versatile choux pastry can be used to make a variety of treats, including eclairs. If you’re making cream puffs, the choux pastry is either piped or dropped by spoonfuls onto baking sheets. It may sound complicated, but it isn’t.
The silkiest and smoothest of pastry creams is used to fill the beloved puffs and voila, you have one of my very favourite pastries.
So what about the Venice part? Well a few months ago, I had the good fortune to come across a wonderful book by Marlena De Blasi called A Thousand Days in Venice. Charming, touching and envy-inducing, the book had an enormous impact on me. I decided that it was time for me to dip my feet in the blogging waters. I combined a much beloved pastry with the images of a city that I would love to visit, and I arrived at my blog.
I sincerely hope that you it will be a source of good food and good stories for all of you!
As for the cream puffs, while I’ve used a multitude of different recipes and adaptations, I always seem to come back to the very first recipe I tried from a book called Canadian Living Cooks Step by Step. Please do give them a try!
One note about this recipe: While the yield is 85 puffs, the instructions divide the recipe into two batches. So you can easily make one batch for 40 to 45 glorious puffs. Of course you will have pastry cream leftover … but I can think of worse things than leftover pastry cream!
Cream Puffs with Pastry Cream
- 3 cups (750 ml) milk
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (50 ml) all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. (15 ml) cornstarch
- 2 tbsp. butter (25 ml)
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla (7 ml)
- 2 cups (500 ml) whipping cream
- In heavy saucepan, heat milk until steaming. Meanwhile, in bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, flour and cornstarch; gradually pour in milk in thin stream, whisking constantly. Return to clean pan. Cook over medium heat, whisking, for 5 minutes or just until boiling; cook, whisking, for 2 minutes longer or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla.
- Pour into bowl; place waxed paper directly on surface to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool, at least 4 hours. Whip cream, gently fold into pastry cream with spatula just until combined.
Note: Pastry cream can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
- 2 cups (500 ml) water
- 1 cup (250 ml) butter, cubed
- 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt
- 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour
- 8 eggs
- 1 egg
- Line two 17- x 11-inch (45 x 29 cm) baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease and dust with flour. In heavy saucepan, bring half of each of the water, butter and salt to boil over high heat; immediately remove from heat. Add half of the flour all at once; stir vigorously with wooden spoon until mixture comes away from side of pan in smooth ball. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 4 minutes or until film forms on bottom of pan. Transfer to bowl; stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly. Make well in centre.
- Using electric mixer, beat in 4 of the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until shiny and pastry holds its shape when lifted. Using pastry bag fitted with 1/4-inch (5 mm) plain tip or with spoon, pipe pastry into 1 1/4-inch (3 cm) round by 3/4-inch (2 cm) high mounds on pans. Glaze: Beat egg with 1 tbsp (15 ml) water; brush half over pastry, flattening tips and making sure glaze doesn’t drip onto pan.
- Bake in 425 degree F (220 degree C) oven for 20 minutes; rotate trays. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C); bake for 10 minutes or until golden. With knife, make small hole in bottom of each; bake for 5 minutes. Turn off oven; let stand in oven for 10 minutes to dry. Transfer to rack; let cool. With wooden spoon handle, enlarge hole in each puff. Repeat with remaining choux pastry ingredients and glaze to make 85 puffs in total.
- Spoon pastry cream into pastry bag fitted with 1/4-inch (5 mm) plain tip. Pipe into hole in each puff, squeezing bag gently until puff is filled with cream. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheet. (Puffs can be lightly covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 hour.)
I always like to dust them with icing sugar and pile them high on a lovely serving dish. Warning: they go very quickly!