During my senior year of high school, I worked at a cream puff bakery. Yes, it was bakery that specialized in selling cream puffs and only cream puffs. There was the classic vanilla custard and chocolate custard fillings, and then there were the flavor of the week. If I remember correctly, it would rotate between strawberry, mango, coffee, and matcha green tea. Needless to say, I had a great time working there as my first job and met some pretty cool people too.
I never made the actual cream puff dough and custard while working there, as my job was to place the puffs in the oven, fill them when a customer would order, then dust them with the corresponding powder. Yet when I used a recipe from Ina Garten to make these cream puffs, it brought back memories of work four years ago. It seems so long ago but in reality, it is only time quickly passing by.
My favorite memory is from an elderly couple. Every Sunday, at around 7:30pm, I would see them walk up to the shop and into the store. They would approach the register and order two vanilla eclairs. They would pick up their cream puffs, thank us for the order, and walk out the store. Every Sunday, they would come and place the same order. Soon enough, I would always look at the clock, then out to the parking lot, and sure enough, there they were walking towards our shop. By the time they reached the register, we had their order all ready for them to enjoy. Now four years later, I am not sure if they are still around or if they still fancy vanilla eclairs. Four years later, I have very well forgotten all of the methods and tricks and ways to do things in the shop. But four years later, I am still reminded of the elderly couple and their vanilla eclairs.
Cream Puffs (Profiteroles)
recipe from Ina Garten, Food Network
1 c milk
1/2 c unsalted butter
1 c all purpose flour
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
Heat the milk, butter, and salt over medium heat until scalded. When the butter is melted, add all the flour and beat it with a wooden spoon until the dough forms. Cook over low heat for two minutes until the flour begins to coat the bottom of the pan. Dump the dough into a food processor and pulse, adding the eggs one by one until it is fully incorporated into the dough.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon mixture into a pastry bag and pipe mounds 1 in-1 1/2 in, depending how big you want them. If the dough has a pointed top, wet your pinger to push it down. Bake for 20 min or until light to golden grown. Set it aside to cool completely before filling.
adapted from Tartine Bakery
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 c sugar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
Heat the milk and salt in a sauce pan until it boils. Meanwhile, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, sugar, and eggs until thick and smooth. Add half of the boiling milk into the mixture to temper the eggs, then return the mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the milk. Whisk continuously on medium high heat until the cornstarch cooks and the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and pour into a heatproof bowl. After 10 minutes, whisk in the butter 1 Tbsp at a time. Place plastic wrap on the surface of the cream to cool to avoid the creation of a “skin” layer.
To make chocolate pastry cream, after the butter is added, add in 3 oz of melted dark chocolate and whisk until completely combined.
Lighten the pastry cream with 1/2 c of whipped cream. Transfer into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Poke a small hole into the side of the cream puff and fill. If using both vanilla and chocolate, first fill half with vanilla then the remaining half with chocolate.