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These heavenly bite-size treats are surprisingly easy to make at home with this foolproof recipe from the “Cake Boss.”
PRO TIP: With most cookies, you can usually tell when they’re done by looking at them, but to know if your cream puff shells are done, just gently pick one up and it should come off the pan easily.
"Finish your cream puffs with, at most, a dusting of powdered sugar," adds Buddy.
PS: The same easy batter used here can also be used to make Buddy’s Eclairs With Custard Cream Filling and Chocolate Icing.
Excerpt from Baking with the Cake Boss by Buddy Valastro. Copyright © 2011 by Buddy Valastro. Used with permission by Atria. All rights reserved.
For the Italian custard cream: Put the milk and the vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
In a bowl, whip together the sugar, flour, and egg yolks with a hand mixer. Ladle a cup of the milk-vanilla mixture into the bowl and beat to temper the yolks.
Add the yolk mixture to the pot and beat over medium heat with the hand mixer until thick and creamy, about 1 minute. As you are beating, move the pot on and off the flame so that you don’t scramble the eggs. (Buddy’s Tip: The longer you cook this cream, the thicker it will become, so you can -- and should -- adjust the texture to suit your taste.)
Remove the pot from the heat, add the butter, and whip for 2 minutes to thicken the cream. Transfer to a bowl. Let cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 6 hours or up to 1 week.
(To make chocolate custard cream, add 1½ ounces melted, cooled unsweetened chocolate along with the butter. For a richer chocolate flavor, add a little more.)
For the choux pastry: Put the water, butter, and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the ingredients come together in a smooth, uniform dough, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (You may also use a hand mixer.) Start paddling on low speed, then add the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly absorbed, mixing for 1 minute between eggs, and stopping the motor periodically to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Finish with the final egg and mix for an additional two minutes. (Buddy’s Tip: Use the dough immediately. It does not refrigerate well.)
For the cream puffs: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450F.
Transfer the dough into a pastry bag fitted with the #6 plain tip. Pipe rounds onto two non-stick baking trays, about 2 inches in diameter by about ½ inch high, leaving 2 inches between puffs. (You should be able to make 24 puffs.)
Bake the cream puff shells in the oven, in batches if necessary, until they are golden brown and they have set enough that you can pick them up (test by gently pinching one with your thumb and forefinger to see if it can be lifted), 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and let the shells cool on the tray for 20 minutes. (The cream puff shells can be frozen in a plastic freezer bag for up to 1 month; let come to room temperature before cutting and filling.)
Fill the puffs by either cutting them in half horizontally with a serrated knife and piping them full of Italian Custard Cream, or by using your pinkie to hollow out the puffs from the bottom and piping the cream into them through the hole.