My mother made the most delicious cream puffs. No, really. The most delicious cream puffs you will ever taste. For my twenty-first birthday, she made three dozen cream puffs for dessert. I ate a dozen of them by myself. In one day. About eight of those were in the space of two or three hours. If I didn’t have the recipe for them, I would think that there was something illegal in them (cocaine!) that makes you compulsively go back for more.
I love this recipe because it’s simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. The ingredients are all pretty basic. There aren’t layers of flavor. It’s just a simple, perfect cream puff.
How does this tie in to living healthfully? Personally, I believe that eating something just to enjoy it is an essential part of the human experience. Labeling foods as “good” or “bad” is counterproductive. It makes food the enemy. But if you occasionally allow yourself to eat something just for the joy of it, you’re less likely to give up on establishing healthful eating habits. A treat is a treat because it’s something that you don’t have often, but you enjoy it immensely when you do. If I ate cream puffs on a weekly or even monthly basis, I wouldn’t enjoy them nearly as much because they wouldn’t be as much of a treat.
Click below for the full recipe.
For the Cream Filling:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup corn starch
- 1 egg
- 2 cups milk
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped
Mix the sugar, corn starch, egg, milk, salt and vanilla in saucepan. I like to use a whisk to get everything well mixed and smoothed out before turning on the heat. Put on medium heat and keep stirring until the custard comes to a boil and thickens. Stir well and often with the whisk while heating to prevent clumping or burning on the bottom. Custard should be thick and smooth.
After custard has been well cooled, gently fold in the whipped cream.
For the Puffs:
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs
Bring water, butter and vanilla to a boil in saucepan. Add flour and continue cooking until a soft ball of dough forms. Remove from heat and allow dough to cool sufficiently before adding eggs, 1 at a time (if you don’t allow the dough to cool, the eggs will start cooking and the dough won’t form correctly). Mix the dough each time until it is no longer slimey before adding the next egg.
Bake at 400º for 15 minutes. Then lower the oven to 350º and continue baking for 25 minutes.
Wait until the puffs are partially cooled to cut tops off puff and fill with cream. I like to pull out a little bit of the eggy filling to make room for extra cream. I always put the centers in a bowl and save it because both my boyfriend and my sister will add leftover cream filling to the eggy centers of the puffs and eat it like cream puff soup. Yum.
One of my cousins informed me that you’re supposed to put chocolate frosting on the tops of these. Blasphemy! And I love chocolate. But these don’t need them. The flavor is a perfect balance between rich and delicate. And it’s time-consuming enough to make these without having to make chocolate frosting on top of everything else. And putting pre-made Betty Crocker frosting on these would just be tragic.
Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Then eat. And enjoy.
And don’t you dare feel guilty about it.