Little Cream Puffs

If you like hearing your guests say, "you made this yourself?" when you serve a dessert, then you must try this recipe from the chefs at etoile Restaurant. Simple and elegant, cream puffs are the perfect finger food dessert for a cocktail party or informal meal. There are so many fun ways to present them: stacked in geometric pyramids, arranged on a platter strewn with pink rose petals, or dramatically dusted with confectioner’s sugar on a black paper napkin.

Ingredients for puff pastry
1 cup water
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp white sugar
1 cup flour, sifted after measuring
3 large eggs
Pinch of salt

Instructions for puff pastry
In a saucepan, mix the butter, salt and sugar with the water, and heat until the water boils. Remove from heat and immediately add all of the flour. Beat with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a ball and detaches from the sides of the pan. Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next one.

To make cream puffs, work with 2 tablespoons, one to scoop and one to scrape. Place mounds of dough on a nonstick cookie tray, spacing them somewhat apart. You can also use a pastry tube to form longer mounds for éclairs.

Bake at 400° F for 20 minutes.

Ingredients for cream filling
1/3 cup white sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch or 6 tbsp of all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 lightly beaten egg yolks
2 cup milk
6 drops of red food coloring

Mix sugar, cornstarch and egg yolks in a saucepan. Scald the milk and pour it gradually over the egg yolk mixture, stirring rapidly with a wire whisk.

Cook over low heat or in a double boiler, stirring rapidly with the whisk, until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Do not allow the pastry cream to boil. Cool and stir in the vanilla extract and red food coloring.

Instructions for filling pastries
To fill the puffs, after they have completely cooled, cut off their tops and spoon in filling. Replace top and sprinkle with powdered sugar or perhaps drizzle with chocolate or caramel if you wish.

Makes 12 good sized cream puffs, or 24 smaller ones.

Suggested wine pairing: Chandon Rosé