Dec 7, 2010

Choux Pastry

The term "choux pastry" refers to a light, airy pastry used to make cream puffs, profiteroles, and eclairs. We decided to take the basic dough recipe and come up with a savory and sweet option. The great thing about this pastry is that it is fairly easy to make and extremely versatile-allowing you to choose the perfect filling. This is especially handy during the holidays because you can either choose to make more appetizer friendly bites like Caitlin did or you can opt for something sweet which is what Monica did.
Caitlin: I decided to fill the pastry with a more savory filling to show how versatile the dough is; I made a sausage, onion and bell pepper filling then divided the pastry into smaller portions so they were bite-sized treats. It was delish! And perfect as an appetizer for a holiday party. The choux is incredibly easy to make - it takes mere minutes to put together and bakes up into a perfect puff. I made a large batch, so after I filled the smaller ones with the sausage filling, I decided to make a few sweet treats - I made some banana pudding (using the recipe below, just adding some pureed bananas) and drizzled the top with chocolate as Monica did with hers; yum! What I love about these is how versatile the dough is, and they can be frozen without the filling, so if you make a large portion but don't want to fill all of them, throw them in the freezer for future use! 
Caitlin's savory version with a sausage stuffing
Monica: I remember this recipe because my aunt often made these delectable goodies when I was a kid.  I chose to use the basic choux pastry recipe and turned it into a cream puff.  I filled my cream puffs with vanilla pudding and drizzled some with chocolate and dusted the others with powdered sugar.  What I personally like about this recipe is how simple the dough is and how well it bakes in the oven. After about 40 minutes of baking, you have a perfectly airy shell ready to be filled any way you choose. You can also make them bite-size or as large as you like.
Monica's version: Cream Puffs
Ingredient List (for the choux pastry dough)
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat water and butter and boil; stir in flour, until the flour forms a ball and leaves the side of the pan. Take off the heat and cool.

Add eggs one at a time and beat until smooth. Drop by teaspoon onto a cookie sheet. Bake for about 35 – 45 minutes. Should make about 15 -18 medium size pastry shells. Cool.

Cut in half with serrated knife or fill with pastry bag. Fill with your favorite savory or sweet filling

**If making Cream Puffs, you can fill with Vanilla Pudding/Custard:
2 1/4 cup(s) whole milk
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
In 3-quart saucepan, heat 2 cups milk to boiling over high heat. Meanwhile, in large bowl, with wire whisk, beat egg yolks, sugar, and remaining 1/4 cup milk until smooth; whisk in cornstarch and flour until combined. Gradually whisk hot milk into egg-yolk mixture.

Return mixture to saucepan, cook over medium-high heat until mixture thickens and boils, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook 2 minutes, whisking.
Remove saucepan from heat; stir in vanilla and salt. Pour pastry cream into pie plate or shallow dish. Press plastic wrap onto surface of pastry cream to keep skin from forming as it cools. Refrigerate 2 hours or until cold, or overnight.

When ready to use, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream just until stiff peaks form. With wire whisk, beat pastry cream to loosen. Whisk half of whipped cream into pastry cream, then with rubber spatula, fold in remaining whipped cream.

***If Making a Sausage Filling
I just diced and sauteed garlic, onions and red bell peppers. Then I threw in some spicy sausage and fresh parsley and sauteed it until the sausage browned. Then I added a few pieces of gouda cheese and cooked on a low heat until it melted into the sausage and veggies. 
You can also substitute other veggies, meats and cheeses according to your preference and what's in your kitchen.

Much like the thumbprint cookies, you can fill these with so many different things.  They're perfect for holiday cocktail parties, dessert parties, or an after dinner treat! 

Caitlin: I listened to a mix of Audio Bullys music.
Monica: As I mentioned once before, baking always makes me want to listen to Ella Fitzgerald and various duets:
1)  "Baby Its Cold Outside" Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald
2)  "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" Tammi Terrell & Marvin Gaye
3)  "Jackson" Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash
4)  "Say Say Say" Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney
5)  "Little Drummer Boy" David Bowie & Bing Crosby

Drink of Choice
Caitlin: Since I would most likely serve these as an appetizer, I suggest a nice Cabernet. 
Monica: Homemade cinnamon tea otherwise known as "canela."

A Recipe to Remember?
We are thinking about using this recipe to make eclairs and nibbles for New Year's Eve.

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