Mon Dieu! Paradis à la Cream Puff (and Coffee)!
by Guest Blogger Colleen Luckett
C’est très excitant! We can all be French for a day because it's National Cream Puff Day, January 2. Délicieux! Although there’s no known origin to this particular “holiday,” we do know the French word profiterole (also spelled prophitrole, profitrolle, profiterolle) has existed in English since 1604. But the term cream puff has appeared on restaurant menus in the United States only since about 1851.
An early 17th-century French recipe for a Potage de profiterolles describes a soup of dried small breads (the profiteroles) simmered in almond broth and garnished with cockscombs, truffles, and so on. Cream puffs as a dessert were introduced into France by Caterina de’ Medici, wife of Henry II of France, who brought from Tuscany several recipes, including choux pastry and profiterole. The latter is a dessert pastry filled with whipped cream, pastry cream, ice cream, or custard. You can serve them plain, decorate them with chocolate or caramel sauce, or dust them with powdered sugar. Yum.
Fun fact: The world’s largest cream puff to date weighed 125.5 pounds. It was created August 11, 2011 at the Wisconsin State Fair by Dave Schmidt and Team Cream Puff. The Wisconsin State Fair is known for its dairy bakery, which has been producing cream puffs during the fair since 1924.
Can I make them myself?
Certainly, and you don’t have to go far for a good recipe. Here’s one we enjoy that’s been served at the Wisconsin State Fair since 1924.
Ingredients (10 puffs)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Additional confectioners' sugar
- In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil over medium heat.
- Add flour all at once and stir until a smooth ball forms.
- Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and shiny.
- Drop by 1/4 cupfuls 3 inches apart onto greased baking sheets.
- Combine milk and egg yolk; brush over puffs.
- Bake at 400° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove to wire racks. Immediately cut a slit in each for steam to escape and let cool.
- In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until almost stiff.
- Split cream puffs; discard soft dough from inside.
- Fill the cream puffs just before serving. Dust with confectioners' sugar.
- Refrigerate leftovers.
If you’d like to go more traditional profiterole, check out Eugenie’s Easy French Choux Chantilly cream puffs from Eugenie Kitchen. Now, when I see “easy” on a recipe, I know it will still be difficult for me, because my idea of cooking is take-out. But it’s probably magic to the eyes of you kitchen aficionados. And she even has a video with clear and easy instruction. Bon appétit!
What’s the best way to enjoy cream puffs?
Call me biased, but I think these are just delicious with a nice, hot cup of coffee, kept cozy with a Kup Kap cup cover from koffeekompanions.com, of course – so I can take my time to enjoy every last bite!
Do you have a favorite cream puff recipe or brand you buy in the store? Please share it in the Comments below!