Easy Cream Puffs with Ice Cream

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puffs ready to fill

It’s funny how the most complicated recipes become so uncomplicated after you do them a few times.

I used to be intimidated by cream puffs. You start on the stove? Then mix in your mixer? You have to pipe the batter? And they have to bake properly so they puff up and remain almost empty inside?

Yes. All true. But it all happens very easily.

Here’s my recipe for the batter they call pate a choux. You can make cream puffs or eclairs — depending on the shape that you pipe.

And here’s a tip. No need for piping on the puffs. You can use 2 teaspoons to make a small (and doesn’t need to be perfect) round of batter on your baking sheet.

After they come out of the oven. Poke each one with a toothpick to allow steam to release. If you don’t do that, the steam may stay inside and might make the inside too wet.

Cut them in half side-wise. Dollop some vanilla ice cream, and put the top on. Of course, you can fill them with pastry cream instead. But if we’re keeping this easy, ice cream does the trick! You can also dust them with powdered sugar, or not (optional)…

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…but do drizzle some chocolate sauce on top of each serving.

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Cream Puffs w Ice Cream & Chocolate Sauce

1 cup water

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)

pinch salt

1 cup flour

4 eggs

1 pint vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the water, butter and salt in a medium saucepan until bubbling. Take off heat and add the flour. Whisk to combine till incorporated. Put back on the heat and whisk until mixture dries a bit and pulls easily from the sides of the pan.

Transfer mixture to the bowl of a mixer using the paddle attachment. Add the eggs one at a time until each is fully incorporated. Mix until you have a smooth batter, but don’t overmix. Place batter into a piping bag with a small tip with a round hole (or use a ziplock bag and cut a small hole in the corner). Work with half of the batter at a time. (Or instead of piping, use 2 teaspoons to spoon batter onto baking pan.) 

On a parchment-lined sheet pan, pipe small balls about an inch and a half big. (Batter should fill 2 sheet pans.) Bake until golden about 20 minutes. Let puffs cool and poke each one gently with a toothpick to allow steam to escape.

Cut each puff in half. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of ice cream to bottom half. Cover with top half. Serve 2-3 to each person. Drizzle chocolate sauce. 

Chocolate Sauce:

3/4 cup chocolate chips (preferably bitter or semi-sweet)

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

1/2 cup heavy cream

Melt the chocolate, cream, and instant espresso in a small heavy saucepan until combined and smooth. Drizzle sauce lightly over filled cream puffs.

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St. Joseph’s Day Cakes

St. Joseph cake

St. Joseph cake

March 19th is Saint Joseph’s Day. Time to move on from Patrick and celebrate Saint Joseph and anyone whose name is Joseph. This is your day!

For the last few years I’ve been wanting to make Saint Joseph cakes. Individual-sized pastries luscious and creamy. But then March 19th would come and go and there I’d be with no cake. Not this year. I wasn’t going to let that happen again. I’ve eaten them in NY, where you can find them at Italian bakeries.┬áBut how do you make them?

I scanned the Web for recipes. I discovered there’s more than one way to make a St. Joseph’s cake. Most recipes used a pate a choux batter. But you can fry the cakes or bake them. Stuff them with whipped cream. Or ricotta. Or a combination of both. Or stuff them with custard cream. Which one is right? Which one authentic? I couldn’t find the answer. Maybe they’re all correct. Each baker with their own authentic recipe.

So I made an executive decision (being the CEO of my own kitchen). I’m gonna use my pate a choux recipe and my custard cream recipe and make St. Joseph cakes!

First make the custard since it needs to be chilled. 5 egg yolks 3/4 cup sugar…

egg yolks and sugar

egg yolks and sugar

Beat with the paddle attachment until pale and thick…

pale and thick

pale and thick

Beat in 3 tablespoons of corn starch. On the stove heat 1 1/2 cups of milk to scalding. Slowly add hot milk to the egg mixture while machine runs on low. Then return the whole mixture back to the pot and heat on medium, stirring with a wooden spoon, until thick. About 5-7 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and about 1/4 cup rum. Pour into a bowl and place plastic wrap on top of the custard surface. Chill in the refrigerater until cooled.

custard

custard

Now make the pate a choux.

pate a choux ingredients

pate a choux ingredients

In a medium saucepan heat 1 cup of water, 6 tablespoons of butter and a healthy pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Then take off the heat and whisk in 1 cup of flour till combined well. Put pot back on the heat and switch to wooden spoon. Stir rapidly until dough is dry and leaves the sides of the pan easily.

dough in pan

dough in pan

Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low for a few minutes to cool down the dough. Then add 4 eggs, one at a time until each is incorporated.

pate a choux batter

pate a choux batter

Now the fun part. Get out your piping bag with a large star tip. Pipe a 2-inch circle and swirl back into the center.

piped dough

piped dough

Bake at 425 for about 15 -20 minutes until puffed. Turn down oven to 350 and bake until deep golden, about another 10 minutes. Once out of the oven I poke each pastry with a toothpick to allow steam to escape. Let cool completely. Then cut in half horizontally and fill with custard cream. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top.

St. Joseph Cake with custard cream

St. Joseph Cake with custard cream

Yes. You’re allowed more than one. Especially if your name is Joseph.