August 29, 2012
Teddy Bear Ice Cream Puffs
I have always wanted to make pate a choux, but sometimes I lack the impetus on my own. It seemed so complicated and, well, French, which is an obvious indication of fussiness. And if there's one thing that cramps my style, it's fussy, fiddly food.
But, boy was I wrong! Pate a choux was actually super simple, and required nothing fancy that I didn't already have hanging around the house. My first try was, admittedly, a flop, but it didn't take long to get the hang of it.
And who better to guide me through the process than Madame Julia Child? (Call it my small tribute to her 100th birthday on August 15th!) My brother and his wife gave me a beautiful copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas a couple years back, and I always enjoy cooking from it. Every step is detailed with great care, making it practically impossible to fail. Thank you, Julia!
Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!
My mind certainly did start racing with ideas, but I kept coming back to teddy bears.
Maybe it's because my baby boy has recently discovered a fondness for his teddy bear, which melts my heart every time, or maybe I just liked the idea of keeping it simple, but I had to make them teddy bears. All I would have to do is add two little ears to an ordinary cream puff.
I know for sure now that I should have used a larger tip, but they turned out pretty cute regardless.
Well, most of them turned out pretty cute regardless...
And, cute or not, they were delicious. And, really, so very easy to make.
If you're intimidated, take a cue from Julia Child and be fearless! Give these a try, and I promise you'll impress yourself.
Pate a Choux (Cream Puffs) a la Julia Child
1 c. water
6 Tbsp. butter, cut into cubes
1 tsp. sugar
a grating of nutmeg (scant 1/8 tsp.), optional
1/8 tsp. pepper
3/4 c. flour
4 eggs, at room temperature
Combine water, butter, sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a 1 1/2 qt. saucepan and bring to a boil, boiling until butter is melted. Remove from heat, and immediately pour in all of the flour. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula for several seconds to fully incorporate the flour, the return to stove over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes, until mixture leaves the sides of the pot and forms a mass around your spoon.
Remove from heat again, and make a well in the center of the dough with your spoon. Break an egg into the center of the well. I found it best to blow on the dough to cool it off for a second, then break my egg into a small bowl before pouring quickly into the pot. (My first attempt was spoiled by cracking my first egg into the hot dough, resulting in scrambled eggs, even following Julia's directions.) Beat into the paste for several seconds to incorporate, continue in like fashion adding eggs one at a time and beating between each one. The third and fourth eggs will take more time to beat in, but never fear, they will get absorbed. Beat for another moment more to make sure everything is well blended.
Let the dough cool just a bit before scooping into a piping bag. Pipe mounds about 2 inches wide onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. If you want to get cute, dot the top with a couple of extra mounds for ears. Wet fingers with a little water, and dab down any points that are sticking up. Wash with an egg wash, if desired, being sure not to drip egg down onto the baking sheet, which will prevent the puffs from rising.
Bake in a 425º oven for about 20 minutes, or until doubled in size and golden. They should be firm and crusty to the touch. Remove them from the oven and pierce them in the side with a sharp paring knife. Set back in the turned-off oven for 10 minutes, leaving the door ajar. Cool the puffs on a wire rack.
Once cooled, split the puffs in half, scoop out the middle, if you like, and fill each with whipped cream, or, as I did, ice cream. (We like this recipe for chocolate ice cream.)