Half a Century: Time for Something Special

According to the statistics that WordPress provides me with every time I post, this is my 50th blog post. Clearly I should probably get a life and get out more, but for now, I’m here, blogging away and trying to get as many fun kosher recipes up on my blog as I can.

Having reached this mini-milestone, I thought that I should post a recipe that constantly hits it out of the park. So it has to be a dessert, and the one dessert that keeps proving itself over and over is my cream puffs.

Many years ago I decided to overcome my fear of making choux pastry. There was always something intimidating about the step where it tells you to throw all the flour into the pot at once and the dough will form into a ball. In retrospect, I am not sure what was so daunting about this –  maybe the un-pronounced “x”?. When I finally plucked up the courage, I saw it was a lot easier than I imagined to make your own cream puff cases, and they taste a million times better than the bought ones. You can also have fun with fillings and add whatever tickles your fancy, including savory fillings.

Cream Puffs

Next step: I decided that it was time to try to slay the holy French cow of butter in pastries. Again, I had been intimidated by the prospect of replacing the butter in the pastry with margarine. But I went for it, and the cream puff cases turned out perfectly. As a result, this has turned into one of my favorite and most flexible desserts as it can be both dairy and parev. It also looks great on a plate and everyone loves them. They do involve a little effort as there are three steps to making them: The pastry, the filing and the chocolate topping, but none of these stages is particularly difficult so I urge you to try this and celebrate my 50th post with me.

CREAM PUFFS

Ingredients

1 cup water

½ cup butter/margarine

Pinch of salt

1 cup flour

4 eggs

Ingredients For Filling

1 packet instant vanilla pudding

400 ml (13 fl oz) whipping cream/non-dairy whipping cream (one and a half small containers)

Ingredients For Topping

150 g (5 oz) bitter sweet chocolate chopped

2 tablespoons butter/margarine

How to do it

Pastry

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F)

2. In a medium-sized saucepan, add the water, butter and salt and bring to the boil. Add the flour all at once and stir quickly until the mixture forms a ball. This will happen very quickly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

2. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each egg is added. This will take a little muscle power and on the way the dough looks like it is separating, but keep going. By the last egg you will have a beautiful, smooth, unified dough.

3. Place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray and spray it with non-stick spray. Drop tablespoons of dough on the tray keeping about 3 cm (1 inch) between each. You should get about 16-18 out of one recipe. To make eclairs, place the dough into a piping bag with a round tip (about a 1 cm opening) and pipe 8 cm (3 inch) strips onto the sheet about 6 cm (2 inches) apart.

4. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the puffs are golden brown. Allow to cool completely before filling them.

Slit the puffs toward the bottom for filling

5. For filling: With a sharp small knife, make small 2 cm (1 inch) slits in each puff (I do it towards the bottom) partially whip the cream till barely very soft peaks (do not whip it stiffly as the vanilla pudding will set the cream) Add the vanilla pudding powder and mix till all combined. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Place the vanilla cream in a piping bag into

Pipe the cream into the puffs

which you’ve inserted a medium sized nozzle. Pipe about 1 tablespoon of cream into each puff. For eclairs, split the puffs in half before filling.

6. For chocolate topping: Melt chocolate and butter/margarine over low heat in a small saucepan until melted. Remove from heat and spread about 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate over each puff.

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