1 cup water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
For Pastry Cream:
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
For Chocolate Pastry Cream (optional)
13 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour a large baking sheet.
In a saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt and the 1/2 teaspoon sugar and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, remove the pan from the heat and add the flour all at once. Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, briskly beat in the flour. Place the saucepan over high heat and continue beating briskly for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat again and scrape the contents of the pan into a large bowl. Add 4 of the eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously after each addition until smooth.
Place the dough in a pastry (piping) bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe mounds about 2 inches in diameter and 3 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheet. You should have 16-20 mounds in all.
In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg until well blended. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each mound with the egg.
Bake until the puffs are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the puffs to a rack and let cool completely, about 30 minutes.
When the puffs are cool, slice off the top one-third of each puff. Set the bottoms and tops aside. Fill with pastry cream or chocolate cream.
For Pastry Cream:
French pastry chefs use this cream as a filling for cakes and pastries, as a garnish and as an addition to hot and cold desserts. Because this recipe calls only for egg yolks, and no whites, it has an especially rich texture. You can make this pastry cream up to 1 day in advance and store it, covered, in the refrigerator.
In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar and whisk until thoroughly combined. Add the flour and stir until smooth; set aside.
In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the milk and the vanilla bean and bring to a boil. As soon as the milk begins to boil, remove it from the heat. Remove the vanilla bean and, using the tip of a small, sharp knife, scrape the seeds directly into the milk. Discard the bean.
Whisk half of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Return the saucepan to high heat and, as soon as the mixture comes to a boil, pour the contents of the bowl into the saucepan, whisking constantly.
Using a wooden spoon, stir over high heat until the mixture is smooth. Return to a boil and boil, stirring, for 2 minutes longer.
Remove the pan from the heat and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the hot cream to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely before using. Fill cream puffs. Makes 2 1/4 cups.
Serving Size: 2 tablespoons per cream puff.
FOR CHOCOLATE PASTRY CREAM: Place the chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over (not touching) barely simmering water in a pan. Stir just until the chocolate melts, then remove from the heat.
Pour the cream into a bowl. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat until soft peaks form. Add the 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form, about 20 seconds.
Pour all of the melted chocolate into the whipped cream as quickly as possible, and continue to mix on high speed until evenly combined, about 1 minute.
Place the chocolate cream in a clean pastry (piping) bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe the cream into the bottoms of the cooled puffs so a little bit of the cream is exposed between the crusts. Replace the tops on the filled bottoms and serve immediately.
Date: July 9, 2002