Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cream Puff Shells

In Julia Child's book, The French Chef Cookbook,  from her long-running TV series, there are two recipes for cream puff shells: one the regular recipe and one for a slightly larger batch.  I made the larger batch, which made 48 puffs.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Butter two cookie sheets/half sheet pans and set aside.  Be sure your oven racks are in the upper and lower third of the oven.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
9 Tablespoons butter (1 stick plus 1 Tablespoon)
5-6 eggs

If you are making sweet cream puffs, you can add 2 teaspoons of sugar to this batter.

Put the water, salt, and butter in a 3-quart saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring.  When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat, drop in the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon.

When all the flour is absorbed into the water (or vice versa!), return the pan to the stove over medium heat and stir until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan.  REMOVE PAN FROM HEAT AGAIN.

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and drop in one egg at a time and stir vigorously again until each egg is absorbed, then drop in the rest, one at a time, until they are all absorbed into the flour mixture.  I used all 6 eggs since I could not tell if the batter was the right consistency or not...

While still warm, use a teaspoon to drop 1-inch across and 1-inch high globs of batter, set 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart on the BUTTERED pan.

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes, checking at the end to be sure they are not over-cooking.  Remove from oven and put on a cooling rack.  With a sharp knife, puncture each shell near the bottom where you might want to cut for a hole for filling them. 

You can go OCD and check the interior of the puff to see if there is any "wet stuff" in the middle.  If there is, just pull it out with the handle of a teaspoon, but...not necessary in my book.  Particularly since it was just the family eating them.

Once the puffs are cool, you can fill them with pastry cream of many varieties, sweetened whipped cream, or any number of savory filling.  You can also make them much larger and use them for creamed savory fillings like Turkey a la King, etc.  If you do make them larger, cook them for 20 minutes at 425 degrees F then lower the heat to 325 degrees F. and bake another 15 minutes or so then check one to see if the inside is cooked.  If not, push back in and cook some more.

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