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Basic Cream Puffs

Lightened pastry cream fills puffs topped with icing or powdered sugar and nuts.

  • Yield: Makes 90

Source: Martha Stewart Living, February 2002

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Pastry Cream
  • 1 recipe Pate a Choux
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • Crystal sanding sugar (optional)
  • Chopped nuts (optional)
  • Oil, for plastic wrap
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

For pink icing:

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 drop pink food coloring
  • Silver dragees, for decorating

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees with a rack in the center. Line two unrimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

  2. Make Pastry Cream, and refrigerate. Make Pate a Choux batter. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a coupler or 1/2-inch (Ateco #806) tip, and pipe 1-inch rounds onto baking sheets at 2-inch intervals. Using fingers, rub egg wash over entire top, and flatten tips, being careful not to let it drip onto the surrounding baking sheet (it will inhibit rising). Sprinkle with crystal sanding sugar or chopped nuts, if desired.

  3. Cover one sheet with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator. Transfer the other to the oven. Bake 10 minutes; reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until puffs are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to let cool slightly. Raise heat back to 425 degrees, and repeat process for remaining batch.

  4. Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks in a small bowl. Stir pastry cream to soften. Add whipped cream to pastry cream in two batches; stir to combine after each. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a coupler and filling tip (Ateco #230). Insert tip into the underside of each cream puff, and fill. Cool completely before dusting with confectioners' sugar or applying icing.

  5. To make icing, combine sugar, butter, and water in a medium bowl. Stir until smooth. Add the food coloring a little at a time until desired color is reached. Dip the top of cooled cream puffs into icing; let excess drip off before turning over. Let set a few minutes; decorate with a dragee. Serve, or store up to 2 hours in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Cook's Notes

The lined baking sheets can be marked with flour-dipped cookie cutters to help guide you in piping dough into uniform shapes.

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