My Nonna’s Cream Puffs (Using Today’s Tools!)
First of all, I need to tell you that my grandmother used only a wooden spoon to prepare the pastry for her delightful clouds of pastry. They were perfection. None of us in the family could ever duplicate them using just a wooden spoon. I am certain there are skilled pastry chefs out there who can.
I found that I can make lovely cream puffs and little pâte à choux appetizers perfectly with the same ingredients, which, by the way, appear to be the same ingredients I found online just about everywhere creampuffs and pâte à choux were featured. So, the ratio of flour to butter and sugar/salt is all the same. What really matters, I think, is how you handle it from there. So, here we go!
1 C sifted flour
1/2 C butter
1 T sugar
½ t salt
1 C hot water
4 eggs (I crack open ahead of time, each in its own dish – ready to add)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees (if your oven runs hot, you may choose a lower temp and bake longer)
Bring water, butter, salt and sugar to a boil in small, heavy saucepan. Add 1 cup of sifted flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon per Nonna (or use an electric hand whisk) until the mixture leave the sides of the pan.
Remove from the heat. I place the mixture into the bowl of my stand mixture and let it cool slightly. Using the paddle attachment, at medium speed, add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition, until mixture has a smooth, glossy finish.
Drop by spoonful onto a baking sheet (line with parchment if you’d like), two inches apart, or you can bake in greased muffin tins. If using the latter, butter and spray pans with nonstick cooking spray first, and let cool a little before attempting to remove them.
Bake 15- 20 minutes until golden. While still hot, immediately poke a small hole into each puff with a wooden pick at the side to let steam escape. Cool on racks. Fill just before serving with sweetened whipping cream, vanilla custard, or a little of both. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.
Ingredients for Custard
1 C sugar
½ C flour
¼ t salt
3 C whole milk
4 egg yolks
3 T unsalted butter
1 ½ t vanilla extract (I use double strength)
Directions for Custard
Whisk together sugar flour and salt in saucepan. Over moderate heat, stir in milk gradually until mixture is thick and bubbling. Lower heat, continuing to stir for two minutes. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, add a small amount to eggs as you cream them and gradually add the rest of milk mixture. Return mixture to pan and bring gently to boil for two more minutes, adding butter and vanilla. Transfer custard to shallow pan or bowl to cool and place plastic wrap on top to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate to cool completely.