in the kitchen

in the kitchen

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Puff and Stuff

Pate a Choux (cream puff paste)
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
4 eggs
Place water and butter in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add flour all at once and stir until thoroughly combined and mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat.  Add eggs all at once and stir until combined--this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Spoon paste onto a greased cookie sheet or use a pastry bag and pipe onto sheet. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown--about 30 to 35 minutes for larger puffs and full size eclair shells (makes 12) and about 20 to 25 minutes for appetizer puffs and mini eclair shells (makes about 36). 

Fill with chicken salad, ham salad, tuna salad, or with sweet whipped cream, custard, or fruit filling. 
Here are two fillings that I use often.
1 can white chicken meat (12.5 ounces), drained
1/2 cup finely diced celery
2 or 3 scallions, sliced thinnly
1/4 cup almond slivers
1/3 cup ranch dressing
1/2 an apple, finely diced (optional)
Mix all ingredients together until desired texture is reached. 

Vanilla Custard
1/2 cup cornstarch 
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
1 cup half and half
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
Mix cornstarch, sugar and salt in a large saucepan. Stir in milk and half and half. Heat over medium heat util mixture comes to a boil. Slowly pour about 1 cup of milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour egg mixture back into large pan, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for another 3 or 4 minutes or until custard has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter. Cool for 15 minutes and then stir well and fill eclair shells.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons coco powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
Heat water, butter and coco over medium high heat stirring constantly until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool for 5 or 10 minutes and then stir in salt and 2 cups powdered sugar. Mix well and add additional sugar until desired consistency is reached. Frost eclairs with warm frosting and then chill until ready to serve. 

Hints: This cream puff shell recipe can be found in any comprehensive cook book. It is a basic for French cooking but can be used very creatively. The shape and filling are open to all sorts of interpretations.  Besides cold fillings, I have seen recipes with hot fillings that looked really good, too. The shells can be made a day ahead and stored loosely covered before filling. If you make the large sizes, when you cut the top, you will need to pull out some of the soft insides in order to make room for the filling. Be sure not to pull too much and make a hole in the bottom of the puff.

My Mother used to make eclairs often. The whole family would polish off a batch in no time. Thanks for helping me to appreciate good cooking Mom! Love you!

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