Cream Puffs with Rosewater Cream

Although I'm not in Paris yet, I figured I should make a post which includes the recipe for the cream puffs that are displayed in the blog's main photo. And a quick note about these cream puffs: if I may say so myself, they look delicious. And they might be an intimidating food for some people to make, but I guarantee that if I can make them come out right, so can anyone else.

I was pretty nervous before making them, because I was worried that the dough just wouldn't puff and I'd be stuck with hard lumps of buttery dough that are useless to me. I started dancing around the oven anxious over whether these little guys would puff up as directed. Lo and behold, they puffed, and they smelled unbelievable - the smell of golden brown butter at its finest. And I realized that this recipe is pretty foolproof, and especially wonderful since the puffs can be stored in the freezer for a month; so if I ever feel like one, I'll have them pre-made already!  Just heat them up, whip up some cream, and they're ready.

I adapted the puff recipe from America's Test Kitchen's Baking Illustrated (The Editors of Cook's Illustrated, Brookline, MA, 2004, pp. 259-260), and the recipe for the pastry cream is one which my parents and I had a whole lot of fun making and re-making until it met our standards. We added rosewater to our pastry cream, which is a shout out to the pastries my parents ate in Iran when they were kids.

So bon appetit, enjoy, and please make sure to sift powdered sugar over them and spread some fresh fruit or warm chocolate sauce around the plate!

Cream Puff - makes about 10 puffs:
These puff pastries can be stored in the freezer in ziplock bags for up to one month; reheat in the oven for several minutes when you want to eat them.

1 large eggs and one egg white
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1 tbsp. whole milk
3 tbsp. water
3/4 tsp. sugar
pinch salt
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Beat the egs and egg white in a measuring cup or small bowl (it should make 1/4 cup; discard any extra).

2. Bring the butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring once or twice. When the mixture reaches a full boil, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the flour with a spatula or wooden spoon until combined. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is slightly shiny and tiny beads of fat appear on the bottom of the saucepan, about 3 minutes.

3. Immediately transfer the mixture to a food processor and process with the feed tube open for 10 seconds. With the machine running, gradually add the eggs in a steady stream. When the eggs have been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then process for 30 seconds until a smooth, thick, sticky paste forms.

4. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Butter a large (18 x 12 or 18 x 13-inch) baking sheet and line with parchment paper, then set aside.

5. Fold down the top 3 or 4 inches of a large pastry bag filled with a 1/2-inch plain tip (or do what I did, and stick it in a zipper-lock bag which you can turn into your own handy pastry bag).

Using your hands or a bench scraper, push the paste toward the tip of the pastry bag (if using a plastic bag, snip off a corner to push the mixture through, approx 1/2-inch in size). Pipe the paste into 1 1/2-inch mounds on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about an inch apart. Use the back of a cold teaspoon to even out the shape of the pastries.

6. Bake 15 minutes (don't open the oven door), then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake until golden brown and fairly firm, 8-10 minutes longer. This is where I danced around the oven in anticipation of whether these babies would puff up as directed. Once they did I breathed a huge sigh of relief. With a paring knife, cut a 3/4-inch slit into the side of each puff to release steam; return the puffs to the oven, turn off the oven, and prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Dry the puffs like that for about 45 minutes, then let cool on a wire rack.

Pastry Cream

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 small carton (1 pint) heavy cream or whipping cream
1/8 cup rosewater
1.Beat sugar, cream, and rosewater in a bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until very thick, about 5-7 minutes.

2.Make a small X in each puff with a sharp knife; using a pastry bag (or a zipper-lock bag like I mentioned above) fill each puff with the pastry cream.

3. Enjoy! They are so yummy, don't forget the powdered sugar.
One last note about the cream puffs: I loved making these cream puffs, especially because I was working in my parents kitchen which is big, clean, spacious, and has the best of every kitchen appliance and utensil imaginable. However, in Paris I'll be living in an apartment with no oven and whose kitchen is about 1/4 the size of my parents. With that said, the recipes on this site from now on will be doable for people who have only the basics to work with, myself included.


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