Jackie was my classmate in school from the time we were in kindergarten all the way through high school. We hit it off right away and became fast friends. On one of my visits to her house (I think we were only in the 5th grade then), her mom served us some cream puffs and I absolutely loved them. Even at that tender age, I was interested in cooking. I asked for the recipe which Jackie wrote out on an index card for me. To this day, I still use that same recipe carefully handwritten on that old, now yellowed index card.
Over the years, I’ve kept the ingredients true to the original recipe, but I’ve changed the procedure a bit for baking them. For instance, the original recipe called for baking the puffs for 20 minutes, then turning the oven off and letting them sit for 10 minutes in the turned off oven with the oven door slightly ajar. I just bake them for about 25 minutes straight and then I’m done.
Cream puffs are a wonderful French invention. Known as “pâte à choux” in France, they are amazing in their versatility and swing from sweet to savory with a simple switch of the filling. They can be filled with custard, pastry cream, whipped cream, or ice cream, or for a savory appetizer or brunch dish, fill them with chicken salad, curried shrimp, tuna or crab salad, creamed turkey, or whatever your heart desires.
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs
- Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line two cookie sheets with silpat silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
- In a medium saucepan, bring water, butter and salt to a rolling boil.
- Add flour all at once, keeping pan on the heat, and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a ball.
- Remove pan from heat and still using wooden spoon, beat in eggs, one at a time, until all eggs are well blended. If you want, you can use a hand mixer for this step.
- Spoon or pipe onto prepared cookie sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Depending on how small or large you make them, you should get between 16-24 puffs.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until medium golden brown.
- Allow to cool completely; then fill with desired filling.