Cream Puffs

When I would return home from college each Christmas, I would throw a holiday party for all my high school girlfriends. We would get dressed up, and I'd serve some crazy meal I decided to try out (surprise, surprise), complete with dessert and tasty drinks.

Then, when I graduated and my parents moved from my hometown, I started throwing holiday parties in my apartment of the year for my college girlfriends. Unlike in my parents' house, however, I didn't have enough dishes for everyone–let alone enough spots to sit for a formal meal—so I went the finger food route instead.

And one of the things I decided to make was cream puffs. Why not? I thought. I'll be adventurous.

The recipe seemed a bit intimidating—there were all these pointers that were necessary for making what the cookbook writers considered the perfect puffs. But they turned out pretty well despite my limited expertise, so I made them again the next year.

This year we didn't have a Christmas party (no high school or college girlfriends around, sadly), so I mourned the fact that I wouldn't get to make cream puffs this year. And then I just decided to do it anyway. So I did, and served them last Sunday when we hosted Conservative Family Sunday Dinner (yes, we do it every Sunday).

And so, without further ado, I share with you my cream puffs (adapted from the New Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, of course ... I don't create the recipes, I just make them).

The merry ingredients:
1 c. water
1/2 c. butter
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. all-purpose flour
4 eggs
3 c. whipped cream, pudding, or ice cream (I use vanilla pudding)
Powdered sugar or chocolate sauce (optional)

The festive steps:
1. In a medium saucepan combine water, butter, and salt. Bring to boiling.

Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball.

Remove from heat. Cool for 10 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition.

(This was after egg number 2, I believe.)

2. Drop 12 heaping tablespoons of dough onto a greased baking sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden. Transfer cream puffs to a wire rack; cool.

(This is where my photo-taking failed again, as you'll see—or, rather, won't see.)

3. Cut tops from puffs; remove soft dough from inside. Fill with pudding. Replace tops. If desire (please do), drizzle with chocolate sauce or sprinkle with powdered sugar. Or both. Why not? It's the holidays.

(This is what the cream puffs looked like in 2005, the first year I made them. Tasty tasty. Although even then, I was a pro at taking blurry food photos. Oops.)

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