Happy Birthday Cream Puffs

For an alternative to birthday cake that's even easier than boxed mix, OnSugar blog Fresh Tart suggests whipping up homemade cream puffs.

We kicked off my son's 14th birthday celebration(s) with cream puffs for dessert tonight.  Few desserts are as festive and impressive as cream puffs - who doesn't love them?  They're so creamy...and puffy.  (Yeah, sorry, I'm a little tired this evening.  Suffice it to say they're seriously good.)

And here's a little secret...they're one of the easiest desserts on the planet to make.  It's true, I swear.  With a mixer and nothing more than water, butter, flour, and eggs, they take about 10 minutes to whip up, 30 minutes to bake. Less effort than a box of cake mix and a million times more fun.

See her recipe and serving suggestions when you read more.

J'adore them filled with nothing more than lightly sweetened whipped cream.  My husband requires a little drizzle of killer chocolate sauce as well; I concede its charms, especially with a feather-light sprinkling of coarse, crunchy salt on top.  You can't imagine how good (although you can, because chocolate and salt are amazing together in lots of things).  Of course they're delicious filled with ice cream if you're so inclined.  Make them bigger and call them cream puffs.  Make them smaller and call them profiteroles.  Just don't call me late for dessert.  (So sorry, so tired, I'm done now, I promise.)

Cream Puffs

Adapted from The Doubleday Cookbook by Anderson & Hanna

Serves 6-8

1 c. flour

1 c. water

½ c. (1 stick) butter

¼ tsp. salt

4 large (not extra large) eggs

Filling:

1 c. whipping cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 Tbsp. sugar

For puffs: preheat to 400 degrees. Put flour in the bowl of a mixer.  Bring water, butter, and salt to a boil.  Add all at once to flour and beat quickly until mixture forms a ball. Break an egg into a cup and slide into flour mixture.  Beat until blended.  Add remaining eggs, one at a time, beat well.  Each egg must be blended in before the next is added; mixture will look odd at first, almost curdled, but as you beat, it will become smooth.

Drop pastry by rounded tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet to form 12 puffs.  Bake 30-40 minutes until puffed, golden brown, and hollow-sounding when tapped.  (Note: do not open oven door during first 15 minutes of baking.)  Cool puffs on wire racks away from drafts.

For filling: beat whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla together until soft peaks form.

To serve: cut a 3/4-inch slice off the top of each puff.  Fill with whipped cream and replace tops.  (Drizzle with warm chocolate sauce if using.)  Serve immediately.

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