I volunteered to bring desert to my family Thanksgiving dinner this year. I'm tired of making the same pies every year. Sometimes for several gatherings throughout the season. So, I decided to switch things up up bit by using some of the traditional holiday ingredients but, using them in some not so traditional ways.
Last week I tried a pumpkin flan. It was good but, The recipe still needs some work. I hope to have that one down by Christmas.
Today I made cream puffs, an easy old stand-by. These are great year round, sweet or savory, they never let me down! What I love most about making them is the alchemy of turning the most basic and humble ingredients into edible, gold. I have used this same recipe for 27 years! That's a lot of cream puffs! OK, enough of me gushing all over the place! Here is the Choux Paste (fancy title for cream puff batter) recipe:
1 1/4 Cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 unsalted butter
1 Cup water or 1/2 C water 1/2 C lite cream (or half and half)
4 large eggs
This recipe can be doubled
Sift flour and salt 3 times
stir in sugar
Heat water and butter on low heat until butter is completely melted. Use a large sauce pan. All ingredients will eventually go into this pot.
Once butter is melted bring liquid to a full boil.
As soon as full boil is reached remove from heat.
Dump all of flour mixture into the pot and stir into a smooth paste. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. You do not want to incorporate air at this stage. It will cause you paste to be greasy.
The mixture should come away from the sides of the sauce pan and form a soft dough ball. The sides of the pan should be clean.
Set your mixture aside to cool for about 15 minutes.
You can beat your eggs while you're waiting! Whack, whack, whack! OK, that's enough egg beating for one day!
Now that the paste has cooled the eggs can be gradually added to the mixture.
Beat well with each addition
Once all of the eggs has been added beat the paste vigorously, incorporating as much air into the mix as possible and creating a nice glossy, smooth paste.
Et, voila! You have Choux Paste! It is ready to use immediately. You can pipe it into cream puffs or, my favorite, eclairs, of any size and shape. Oh and id you don't have a pastry bag, no worries, spoon it out onto your baking sheet. It will taste just as good and once it is covered in whipped cream, powdered sugar, spun sugar, cheese, or chocolate, no one will really care that it was spooned rather than piped. If they do, don't share with them!
Baking instructions: Baking these can be a little tricky. This is one of those times when size really does matter! Your baking times will vary by oven and the size of your "puffs". I recommend doing a test puff each time you use this recipe.
For all puffs the first 10 minutes will be at 425 degrees (bite size puffs will be done at this point)
after that lower to 375 and bake for and additional 10-20 minutes. This is to brown and ensure that the centers are dried out.
My puffs are bigger than golf balls but smaller than tennis balls. I did the first 10 at 425 and an additional 8 minutes at 375. Just keep checking until they are golden. I always test bake a few for size and desired doneness. When they are done they should be light, crisp, fluffy, hollow, and dry.
Cut a test puff open. As long as the center is hollow and dry, not sticky, you're good. The nice thing about these is that you can pop them back in if they need more time. Just be sure to keep the temp. low. You don't want to burn your tips!
Oh yeah, another awesome thing about puffs is that they freeze remarkably well. You can store them for up to 6 months (yeah right, if you can stay away from them that long.) Warm them in the oven an fill them with your favorite sweet or savory stuffing.
No Bake, Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling Recipe
OK so, I realize that this is not really a cheese cake since it isn't "baked". It isn't really a mouse either since it doesn't use any egg whites. It tastes like a pumpkin cheesecake and I was inspired to make it based on some of my favorite cheesecake ingredients so, call it what you like. I just call it delicious, creamy, goodness!
24 oz. cream cheese
3/4 Cup packed brown sugar ( I don't like mine too sweet. You may want to add a full cup if you prefer a sweeter dessert)
1/2 Cup Sour cream
3 tsp. vanilla
16 oz. pumpkin puree
2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
In a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer cream the cheese, sour cream and sugar until smooth.
add pumpkin mix until blended well
add vanilla and spices
Chill mixture for at least 1 hour or overnight
I will not be serving these until tomorrow but, this is the presentation plan
Fill your pastry bag with pumpkin/cheese mitxure,
poke pastry tip into bottom of puff and pipe in until full,
Top with a dollop of whipped cream (I am using whipped cream and sour cream)
And garnish with graham cracker or ginger snap crumbs
No pastry bag? No problem!
Cut top off of puffs,
Spoon pumpkin cheesecake mixture into center,
Top with whipped cream and graham cracker crumbs