Little known fact, there's nothing I love more than pâte à choux. Every aspect of this dessert appeals to me; from making the dough on the stovetop, mixing in the eggs, to baking off these beauties. Growing up, my grandmother would make cream puffs as her extra special dessert. She would make them only for the most important events (wedding showers, Easter). Everyone in my family would be so excited to eat them. We would know she was making cream puffs weeks before she actually did, and the anticipation would grow as the event drew closer. Being so young at the time (5 or 6-years-old), I remember the puffs to be enormous, softball sized pastries filled with chocolate pudding. I'm sure they were smaller then my memory recalls, but small hands recall big memories J
I made these for my 30th birthday party, so there aren't many pictures. We made so many items for the party, that I barely had time to make everything; let alone snap pictures. Joe and I had about 25 people over, and we had at least 6 appetizers, Middle Eastern pizzas, regular pizzas, brownies, strawberry shortcakes (I actually forgot to put them out), choux swans, éclairs sable cookies and the birthday cake my husband made for me. We're still eating leftovers 3 days later.
I decided to make chocolate pastry cream instead of the peppermint cream. Mint only appeals to me when it's in a Girl scout thin mint. Dorie's chocolate pastry cream recipe was easy to follow, and it resulted in a smooth very nice pastry cream. I have seen pastry cream recipes where the end result is something like a creamy jello jiggler (are those still around?). Luckily, this recipe was a beautiful thick pudding.
The choux recipe was easy to follow as well. I ended up making mini-eclairs, mini Paris-Brest and swans. I learned how to make swans when I was at the CIA. They are so fun to make, that I'm always looking for an excuse to make them again. Many thanks to Caroline of A Consuming Passion for choosing this recipe as this weeks TWD recipe; any excuse to make swans is highly appreciated.
Here's a photo of the choux paste:
This is what happens when you leave your brother alone with a deformed eclair and deformed Paris-Brest. I laughed so hard when I saw this:
Final group photo:
One final note, check out my post on the gougères I made from Tartine's cookbook. It's interesting to see how pâte à choux can be both savory and sweet.