Monday, February 23, 2009

you can, too.

Way, way back when I was a freshman in college, I walked several times a week from my dorm on Washington Square East over to Broadway, then a couple of blocks North, and then made a right onto Astor Place, stopping at Astor Place Starbucks. I worked there as a barista. My fellow employees not-so-affectionately nicknamed it "Disaster Place", which should give you some insight as to how they felt about working there.

Because I made the walk so much, I noticed when a sign suddenly went up on Broadway for a store called Beard Papa's. Having no idea what it was, I wandered in and investigated. It was a store that sold cream puffs, almost exclusively. Its employees wore jumpers and paper hats, which struck me as rather odd. And how did a store expect to stay in business on Broadway in lower Manhattan by selling cream puffs?

It's now over four years later. I've graduated college, moved to Seattle, and moved back to New York. Beard Papa's is still there, somehow. And not only is it still there, but it now has another store in the West Village (about ten blocks away) that I pass almost daily as I hustle from the gym to the train. There must be something about cream puffs, because New Yorkers are clearly buying.

I've got to admit, I'm not really a fan of cream puffs. I know, shocking, isn't it? But Mary loves them, as do a whole lot of other people I enjoy spending time with. In case you're wondering, it makes people really happy to get a box of these little puffballs. But you know what makes them even happier?

When you make them yourself.

What's that? You don't think you can do it? Hogwash! I did, just this past weekend, and I know that you can, too. Know how I know that? Because they're really simple to make. They only take a few ingredients, and this recipe from Bon Appetit is very exact, so you don't have to do any of that guessing stuff (the guessing is what usually gets me into trouble).

All I have to say is that you should make these cream puffs. You can bake them into little, bite-sized party treats as I remember Adriana's mama doing once for a party when we were in high school. You can also make them into big, Beard Papa's-sized pastries that promise to dust the tip of your nose with powdered sugar. You can pipe the cream into the middle if you have a pastry bag, or you can cut a hat off the puff and spoon in the filling as I did. Whatever you do, make them the same day you plan to serve them, and don't assemble them until right before. That way, you'll be eating these puffs at their pillowy, creamy best.

Trust me on this one. You can do it. I know you can.

You Can Do It Cream Puffs
Adapted from Bon Appetit, March 1996
Makes about 18


Cream Puffs:
3/4 cup water
3 Tb unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour (note: this isn't the time to use your
whole wheat flour)
3 large eggs

1 cup chilled whipping cream
1 tsp plus 2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

powdered sugar, for dusting

For cream puffs:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Combine water, butter, salt, and sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to melt butter. Add flour; using wooden spoon, stir vigorously until mixture clumps together, forming a ball. Stir one minute longer over the heat. Remove from heat and transfer dough to medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, add the eggs one at a time, beating until dough is smooth after each addition (dough will be slightly soft and shiny).

Using 1 rounded tablespoon of dough for each cream puff, spoon dough onto prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart and forming mounds about 3/4 inch to 1 inch high and 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Using moist fingertips, gently press tops of cream puffs to flatten any peaks. Bake until golden brown, about 37 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to rack; let cream puffs cool. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

For filling:
Beat cream, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl until stiff peaks form. 

Cut the top third off each cream puff. Place cream puff bottoms, cut side up, on plates. Spoon filling into bottoms, mounding slightly. Top with cream puff tops and dust with powdered sugar.

1 comment:

  1. The link worked. Yayyy! Thanks for the submission!



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Adriana Willsie and Kylie Springman ©2009