The tradition started when I was a kid growing up in Southern California. Eclairs from a downtown bakery for Christmas Eve festivities. I’ll always remember that happiness and anticipation when my Mom and Dad would come home from the bakery with a couple of large, pink bakery boxes. One eclair for each person. The agony was in the waiting for dessert time and wishing those eclairs were made larger!
Years later I would continue that love affair and learn the art of making the delicate and versatile pâte à choux to make my own cream puffs and eclairs…
I‘ve featured making choux pastry in years past. And every year about this time, I’ll probably always feature the pastry in some shape or form. What can be more sublime than a perfectly baked pastry shell, filled with homemade vanilla pastry cream, and then drizzled with the richness of a semi-sweet chocolate glaze? Served cold…it is perfection.
These were made in a smaller size using a 1 1/2-inch diameter scoop for uniformity. Two bites and they’re done!
The recipe was scaled down to make a reasonable 15-16 smallish puffs.
The perfect size for holiday tea parties, dessert teasers or keeping your portion control honest.
Cut the tops off and fill with your favorite homemade vanilla pastry cream recipe.
Make a semi-sweet chocolate glaze to balance the flavors (don’t use milk chocolate, it’s too sweet and will over-power the rest of the flavors).
- Use a small scoop to get uniform size. I used a 1 1/2-inch diameter scoop with a 1 tablespoon capacity.
- Dip the scoop in a cup of room temperature water in between each scoop to allow easier release of the paste onto the baking sheet.
- Avoid opening the oven while the pastry is baking, otherwise they may and can deflate.
- Can be made 1 day ahead before filling. Allow to completely cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Makes about 16 small puffs -OR- 8 large
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt (not coarse or sea salt)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Line 1 to 2 baking sheets with a silicone baking mat or with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a saucepan over medium heat, heat butter, water, and salt until it begins to boil. Remove from heat.
Add flour all at once. With a wooden spoon, quickly stir until mixture forms a smooth ball and pulls away from the side of the pan.
Add eggs to flour mixture, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Beat until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.
Using a small 1 1/2-inch diameter -or- 1 tablespoon capacity scoop, scoop the dough onto baking sheet, dipping the scoop in room temperature water between each scoop.
Evenly space the placement of each scoop allowing sufficient room between each. Bake 35 minutes.
Remove from oven; cut slit into each puff and return to oven for another 10 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow puffs to dry in the oven for another 10 minutes.
When completely cool, slice the top off of each and fill with your favorite pastry cream. Top with a chocolate glaze.
Store in the refrigerater in an airtight container or covered well with plastic wrap.
Makes 1/2 cup
1 square (or 1 ounce) of semisweet chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons milk (not nonfat), room temperature
In a medium-sized, microwaveable bowl melt the chocolate and butter. Stir to combine until smooth. Add the sugar and milk and beat vigorously until smooth.
Drizzle on puffs and warm as needed to easily apply.