Sunday, July 10, 2016

Perfect Savory Cream Puffs

Are these perfect?  I can't find anything wrong with them.  But I can't say for sure that they're perfect because I didn't get a chance to taste even one.  I brought this platter of puffs to a neighborhood 4th of July brunch, and they disappeared before I had a chance to wander into the dining room and taste one.

I didn't fill them with faux gras, or vrai gras, for that matter because chicken livers don't go over well in my house (except for my wonderful son-in-law, who cheerfully eats anything I put in front of him--except olives).  Also, I had some shrimp and artichoke salad at a friend's house a few weeks ago, and I thought that would be nice in these puffs.  Apparently it was.

These were so easy and so much fun to make that I should make them regularly and freeze them so I'd always have them on hand for a quick appetizer.  That would be so impressive that it might be the kind of thing people would talk about in a eulogy.  At my funeral, people are more likely to say, "She had some good ideas, but wasn't much on follow-through."  I'll bet that I won't have any cream puffs in my freezer in six months, even though it's a terrific idea.  I include the picture of the flour being sifted so you can see that I didn't cheat.

If you've made cream puffs before, you know that the technique is unlike almost anything else in baking.  You heat up butter, water, a little sugar and salt, then dump the flour in all at once and beat like crazy.  I love doing it.  It's one of those quirky chemical reactions that seems very unlikeky to work.  But it does work.

Then you add the eggs, one at a time.  I actually enjoy doing this so much that I passed up the chance to let my food processor do the work for me.

It's possible that I've occasionally mentioned that I don't like piping, and I considered just using a spoon to put tiny glops of batter on the baking sheet, but in the end I got out my piping equipment.  (Yes, I do know you're supposed to keep the piping tip close to the baking sheet, but Jim was trying to get a shot of batter that came out looking like a Dairy Queen).

Even if they come out have a twist on top, you can easily smooth them out with a dampened spoon.

I weighed the first mini-puff (14 grams, right on the nose), and thought I could duplicate the size so I wouldn't have to weigh all of them.  I seem to have made most of them bigger than my first try, so I ended up with 29 puffs instead of 36.  Nobody seemed to mind that they weren't exactly the same size.

I followed the baking instructions exactly and love the look of these little puffs.  I didn't open one ahead of time to test the texture, but they were just right--no unbaked dough in the middle.

The filling was just chopped shrimp and canned marinated artichoke hearts, a little mayo, and salt and pepper.  I added a little lime juice for brightness.  Amazingly, I ran out of filling and shells at the same time.  That never happens!

Although I didn't get to taste a shrimp puff, Jim did, and he pronounced it good.  Knowing that his tasting vocabulary is limited, I wasn't going to bother to ask him to expand.  But I did, and he said, "Well, the puff was light, and it held the filling.  It was good."  I asked if he could be more specific.  He said, "I don't think so."  So there you have it.  Shrimp-filled cream puffs that are appetizing enough to disappear within 15 minutes.  As we say in Minnesota, that's pretty darn good.


  1. "She had some good ideas, but wasn't much on follow-through." -I haven't had this good a laugh in a long time! Somehow I can't believe it though since you baked through The Bread Bible on your own and have hosted two other bake through groups. I laughed because this could be my epitaph. These puffs look perfect. So unfair you didn't get to taste at least one! But it is quite a compliment they disappeared so quickly.

  2. Ohhh I should have probably joined you for these.. may favorite thing in the whole wide world - my grandmother would make them for me every time I would go down to Venezuela to visit them over the summer - my favorite were filled with zabaglione pastry cream.

  3. i don't remember when i have smiled for so long a time. and that Jim! i just love him. Woody is like your son-in-law--only olives are on the absolutely not list though he's not fond of zucchini in its natural state either and is only learning to like beets. Elliott's list of won't eat has grown longer along with his, by the way, is our 40th anniversary!

  4. These just look absolutely perfect, and the filling divine! I can't wait to make. As you say, an easy thing to just "freeze and serve"!

  5. These was truly a joy to make, and much joy to read your blog.