CREAM PUFFS (PÂTE À CHOUX)
Makes 8 large puffs, more if smaller.
Note: The filling is for 4 puffs -- 2 each for a romantic dessert. You can also fill puffs with your favorite flavor of ice cream or custard. Extra cream puffs may be frozen in freezer bags once completely cooled for up to one month.
• 1 c. water
• 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/2 tsp. sugar
• 1/8 tsp. vanilla
• 1 c. flour (preferably bread flour but all-purpose will work)
• 4 eggs
• 1 c. heavy cream
• 1 tbsp. powdered sugar
• 1/2 c. fresh raspberries
• Powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. If you have a baking or pizza stone, place that on the lowest rack.
Warm eggs in a bowl of hot tap water.
In medium saucepan, combine water, butter, salt and sugar, and bring to a full boil. Remove from heat, add vanilla, then add flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon to quickly form a ball.
Return the pan to medium heat and continue stirring, pressing the dough against the side of the pan and gathering it up into a ball. This dries out the dough so that it can better absorb the eggs. Stir constantly, not letting the dough scorch, for 1 to 2 minutes.
Place dough in bowl of stand mixer and set aside.
In small bowl, lightly beat three of the warmed eggs. Separate the fourth egg, placing the white in a small dish and beating lightly. Save or discard the yolk.
With the mixer on low, gradually add the beaten eggs in three increments, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more. Increase mixer speed to medium until eggs are thoroughly incorporated. Stop mixer and test the dough by placing a spoonful on a plate; it should be supple enough to hold its shape, but not "pasty." If it's still stiff, beat in the egg white. If it looks very soft, proceed to shaping the puffs.
On a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or coated with cooking spray, place large spoonfuls of dough at least 2 inches apart. You should end up with about 8 dollops for large puffs.
Using a plant spritzer (a clean one!), lightly spray each puff once with water. This will keep them moist longer so they'll puff as much as possible before firming up.
Place baking sheet directly on pizza stone or on bottom rack. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake 25 minutes. Do not open the oven door, or the puffs may collapse. After 25 minutes, remove pan from oven and pierce each puff with a small knife to allow any steam to escape and to help the puffs bake dry. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
To make the filling: Just before serving, whip cream with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar until it holds a soft peak. Reserving a few whole raspberries for garnish, lightly crush the rest with a fork, then fold into the whipped cream. Cut puffs in half horizontally with a serrated knife, fill bottom half with cream and replace top. Sift with powdered sugar and garnish with remaining raspberries.