Aunt Pat’s Famous Cream Puff

INGREDIENTS: Cream Puff Shells:
1 cup water
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Custard Cream Filling:
¾ cup sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups milk, heated to warm
4 egg yolks, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla

For the sweetened whip cream:
1 pint whipping cream
Granulated sugar to taste
Vanilla to taste
Confectioners’ sugar

INSTRUCTIONS: For the cream puff shells:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Set aside a large (12 or more) muffin tin, very lightly buttered. Note: If you can, use a regular tin muffin pan, NOT a dark non-stick pan. The puffs will be much bigger with the regular “silver” colored pan. It’s worth investing in one of these pans, as you’ll be making these again and again.

2. In a medium sauce pan, bring water and butter to a low boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and add flour, stirring until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Stir in eggs, one at a time, beating until dough is smooth.

3. Using a tablespoon, drop dough into deep muffin tins. This doesn’t have to be an exact measurement, but depending on how big you want your shells to be. Divide all the batter between 12 tins.

4. Bake shells in 400 degrees F oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Important that the puffs are golden/crisp or they may collapse. Remove from oven and cool completely.

5. The shells can be prepared the day before. Just lightly cover with foil when completely cooled and let sit at room temperature.

6. Cook’s note: Ingrid just baked the shells on a baking sheet about three inches apart, but my smart aunt decided the muffin tins make a nice shape to hold the cream. Either method works, but Ingrid’s way will produce a little flatter shaped shell.

For the custard cream filling:

7. Place the 4 egg yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk them together and set aside.

8. Mix sugar, flour and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir in warm milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring almost constantly. Mixture will thicken and bubble. Once it starts to bubble, cook one minute more while still stirring.

9. Remove from heat. Stir about half of the mixture into beaten egg yolks.

10. Blend this back into remaining hot mixture in the saucepan. Stir constantly just until mixture begins to bubble again.

11. Add vanilla and stir until combined. Remove from heat. Set aside.

For the sweetened whipped cream:

12. Whip your cream using electric beaters and add sugar and vanilla to your liking.

Assembling the cream puffs:

13. Pour about one cup powdered sugar into a bowl to dip the cream puffs in.

14. Cut off shell tops and scoop out the insides of top and bottom to make room for the custard and whipped cream.

15. Dip the bottom of the puff into powdered sugar, then repeat with top of puff. This will coat the puffs more than dusting and gives a “French pastry” decadent look to the finished cream puffs.

16. Fill bottom of puff with Custard Cream Filling. Top generously with sweetened whipped cream.

17. Replace top of puff. Place puffs in refrigerator, uncovered, chilling for 4 hours (at least one hour). Do not cover the puffs in fridge or you run the risk of the powdered sugar disappearing. Puffs can remain in fridge overnight this way.

More notes for preparing ahead of time:

18. You may completely assemble cream puffs the night before serving, but do not cover them.

19. For transporting, place completed cream puffs back into muffin tins, cover lightly with foil and they’re ready to go!

20. Makes between 12 cream puffs if made in muffin tin.

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