YOU ARE ABOUT TO BE A CHEF
Little puff pastry shells can be stuffed with anything from ice-cream to tuna salad. I like to make them bite sized so that you can pop the whole thing in your mouth at a party when you see somebody coming that you don’t want to talk to. But they can be made much larger.
This recipe is from the classic cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, by Julia Child. Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck. The French vanilla ice cream recipe, which will be a separate post, is from Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream & Dessert Book, which was given to me by my dear friend Iris, when I first bought my handy-dandy, friend pleasing, Cuisinart Ice Cream Machine. But if you don’t have an Iris, you can get it here.
With a few slight variations in the recipe, these can be for savory or sweet little bites. They are almost impossible to screw up, and have guests hovering around them to make sure they don’t disappear before they get their fill. And they are ideal because they can be prepared ahead of time and put together at the last minute easily as people are coming in the door.
YOU CAN DO MAGIC!
It’s kind of a magic act the way these puffs come together. You make a pâte à choux, which is a cream puff paste, in English, pipe or spoon it onto a baking sheet, and bake them for a few minutes, and they rise up and hollow themselves out. A quick knife poke in each one releases the steam, you set them in the turned off oven for another few minutes to dry out, and they are ready to fill.
Then you can cut the top off and use a very small spoon to fill them, or pipe a filling into them. In this case, my initial decision was to make some homemade ice cream and fill them with that, drizzling them with melted chocolate afterwards. Doesn’t that sound fancy? It is. Yeah, and people will be jealous when you send them pictures of them.
I have so many left over that this morning I popped one into the oven on 425° for 3 minutes just to see if they crisped back up, and indeed they did. So this afternoon, I’m going to make a quick tuna salad, slice the top off of them and spoon some of that into each one.
You can do this. Here’s how.
Put your butter, salt, sugar and water into a pan and heat it until it all melts together. Take it off the heat for a minute and dump your flour into it and stir like a madman until it’s all blended nicely, then pop it back on the heat and beat it with a wooden spoon until it starts pulling away from the side of the pan. You’ll see it and know what I’m saying. Just takes a minute.
Take the pan off the heat again, and one by one, use the wooden spoon to beat in the eggs. When one is incorporated, you can add the next one. This will wear your weak little arms out, but doesn’t take long. About a minute per egg. It’s fascinating to watch it go from a slippery slop to a sexy paste.
Then you just either spoon them onto a greased baking sheet, or pipe them on. I prefer to use my Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator, which I don’t think they make anymore. But a pastry bag and wide tip would work just as well, if not better. It’s important to lightly coat a teaspoon with beaten egg, and press down on the tops so they are flat, and not in a point, but don’t let the egg drip down the puff, or it won’t puff.
PUT THEM IN THE OVEN FOR BABY AND ME
Put them in the oven for about 20 minutes, on 425°, and when puffed and brown, take them out, turn off the oven, and poke a little slice with a paring knife in each one to release the steam. Then put them back in the turned-off oven for 10 minutes or longer with the oven door propped open, to let them dry a little more. Put them on a rack to cool.
They can then be filled with whatever you desire. I used homemade French Vanilla ice cream, for some, and tuna salad for others. There are a few small changes if you want sweet puffs, or savory puffs, and this is shown in the recipe. Overall, these babies are foolproof, and you’re gonna’ love them when party time comes. As Julia Child says, “You cannot fail with puff shells”!
Quick and easy pastry shells you can stuff with anything.
- 1 cup Water
- 6 tablespoons Butter
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs for the pâte à choux
- 1 egg, beaten, to tamp the tops of the puff pastries
- Butter or cooking spray to coat the baking sheets