Monday, April 5, 2010


Have you ever looked at a recipe and thought, there is no way in hell I'm going to be able to make that with out screwing something up? That thought had always crossed my mind whenever I contemplated making choux pastry or cream puff dough. I tend to stay away from tricky recipes and this one made me nervous because it used 10 to 12 eggs. That would be a lot of wasted eggs if I messed up the recipe.

The tricky parts to this recipe were; first I had to make sure I didn't overcook the mixture as it could separate and turn red, then I had to make sure the mixture had cooled slightly before I added the eggs or they would cook and ruin the dough.

But I thought it was time to be a big girl and face my fears of making cream puff pasty.

I scanned the recipe and didn't like this part of the direction. " Begin beating the paste at medium-low speed to release some steam and to allow it to cool somewhat. This is very important because the eggs will begin cooking if they are added while the paste is too hot."

Okay, I get that part, but what temperature is "cool somewhat?"

 I cheeked out another cookbook. "Essentials of Baking"

According to this cookbook, the magic temperature is 140 degrees.


This recipe only took 4 eggs instead of 10-12. Hmm, since this was the first time I was making cream puff dough and there was a chance I could mess it up, I wondered, should I use the one that called for 10-12 eggs or the one that only used 4 eggs.

Of course I used the one that only took 4. Duh.

So with Hubby's help as the photographer, because I can't mix and take pictures at the same time and really if I could do that then I would be like a super hero and I would probably be out saving the world instead of baking. So as a non-super hero, I put on my apron and got down to business.

Here's the main thing I learned when I made this recipe. It's never a good idea to work out your arms with weights the same day you plan on hand mixing 4 eggs vigorously into a thick batter. It's also not a good idea to do this while wearing a sweater in an overheated house. Only do this if you want to torture yourself.

Yes, I'll admit it, I was tempted to let Hubby do the mixing, but it was my recipe and I was going to do it even if that meant I was close to sweating blood. Well, not really, but it did feel like my arms were going to fall off.

But let's start from the beginning. Before any eggs were added, I had to combine milk; water, butter and salt into a pan set it on medium heat. Once the butter melted and it came to a boil,

I removed the pan from the heat, mixed in the flour vigorously and return the pan to medium heat. My arms were fine at this point. I'm not in that bad of shape.

Once the mixture formed a ball,

I removed the pan from the heat and waited until it came to the magic temperature of 140 degrees. At that temperature, the mixture still felt too hot, but I trusted the cookbook and dumped in the whisked egg. The egg didn't cook so the mixture must have been cooled enough.

After nearly killing my arms, here is what it looked like after 4 eggs were mixed into it.

The recipe said to pipe 1 teaspoon of dough onto parchment paper for the profiteroles (small cream puffs), which I did, but they came out really small. That one in the picture looks like a snail and it was about the same size as one. The second batch I used a tablespoon of batter and they came out bigger.

Look Ma, I did it!

Speaking of my mom, my parents came up for Easter dinner so I decided to fill the small puffs with ice cream and serve them with a warm chocolate sauce also know as profiteroles.

Let's take a moment and talk about this chocolate sauce. If I was in front of a firing squad and was granted one last drink, it would not be a chi tea latte or an ice cold diet Coke-my two favorite drinks, no, it would be a tall glass of this warm chocolate sauce. It was that good.

It was way too easy to make, which means of course, I screwed up a part. I have a habit of doing that. When the milk came to a boil, I poured it over the chocolate chips, waited 30 seconds and stirred it like the directions said, but my chocolate chips didn't completely melt. I added the mostly melted chocolate to the cream, sugar and butter I had warmed up in a pan but it didn't melt all the chocolate like I thought it would.

Can you see the chocolate bits on the spoon?

It was an easy fix-I strained the mixture through a strainer (I'm becoming an expert with this handy tool) and presto-no more chocolate bits in the sauce.

Now that I know I can make choux pastry, next time I will try the recipe from "The Textbook."