Gardening, Cooking and Decorating on the Prairie of Kansas

Welcome to Linderhof, our 1920's home on the prairie, where there's usually something in the oven, flowers in the garden for tabletops and herbs in the garden for cooking. Where, when company comes, the teapot is always on and there are cookies and cakes to share in the larder.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Puffs -- Savory or Sweet -- Chicken or Cream

I adore teaching cooking classes.    By chance, I found my niche!     Tonight we did a class on "puffs" or pate a choux pastry.    It's the dough for cream puffs and eclairs and often they're used as a vehicle for chicken salad for ladies luncheons or afternoon teas.

For years I was scared to death of pate a choux -- thinking, perhaps, that it would be like puff pastry -- that it would demand more time than I waned to give it.    So, my cream puffs (and eclairs) came from the bakery.

And then by chance, I read an article in a cookbook about gourgeres -- the perfect before dinner nibble with a glass of burgundy.    In Burgundy it is the appetizer!

And I found a recipe and made them . . . for an appetizer when we had company for dinner.    And I made them again and again . . . they were so easy and so good!    An almost foolproof appetizer but one that gains you status as a gourmet cook!

When friend Cynthia from life+style asked me to teach a class on cream puffs, I was so excited to share this really simple dough and the good food that can be made from it.

We started with . . .

garlic clouds.     From The Loaves and Fishes Cookbook by Anna Pump.    They're garlicky little morsels best served, in my opinion, fresh out of the oven!

We also had

Real cream puffs.    Filled with vanilla pastry cream, topped with chocolate ganache, whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.     (Growing up my cream puffs always had a simple powdered sugar topping and I like that best!)

After the class sampled the gourgeres (which I demonstrated for the class) still hot from the oven, we went on to the entree:

Luncheon size puffs filled with chicken salad and appetizer or tea size filled with curried chicken salad.

Balanced by . . .

Another sweet -- mini puffs filled with whipped cream, topped with chocolate ganache and finished with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

The pastry is really simple -- and most ingredients are always at hand -- flour and butter and eggs.  

What I call the "Mother Recipe"


1 cup milk or water (I used milk for some and water for others)
1 stick butter
pinch of salt
1 cup of flour
4 eggs

Heat oven to 425.

Put milk, butter and salt in a saucepan.    Heat to scalding and when butter is melted, add flour.     Stir until dough comes away from the sides of the pan.    Add eggs (one at a time, beating well after each addition).     

Most recipes say to put the dough into pastry bag and pipe onto cookie sheets.    I used a small scoop and a smaller scoop for my dough.     They're easier to wash than a pastry bag and the puffs came out fine!

Put the cookie sheet into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.     After 20 minutes turn oven off and leave the puffs in for an additional 10 minutes.

Several recipes I found on line, suggested putting the flour mixture into the bowl of a food processor and add all 4 eggs and pulse until well mixed.    (I did make one batch this way but I saw no advantage to it and you have a food processor to wash!)

Some other recipes on line suggested putting the flour mixture into an electric mixing bowl and adding the eggs and mixing.    (I didn't try that but I could see no advantage to having a mixing bowl and beater to wash!)

The garlic clouds are a bit different:


1 cup water
6 T. butter
1 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 cup flour
4 eggs
12 cloves of garlic, finely minced

Preheat oven to 425.

Put water and butter in a saucepan.    Add finely minced garlic and salt and pepper.     Bring to a simmer and when butter is melted, add flour and stir until mixture comes away from the side of the pan.     Add eggs, one at a time and beat until well mixed.     

Drop by scoops onto a silicone lined baking sheet.     Bake for 20 minutes.    Turn oven off and leave in turned off oven for 10 minutes.

These are best served warm.    

It's Friday and I'm joining Michael at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.


kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

I love making cream puffs, Martha, and my hubby adores them. My favorite is to sprinkle with powdered sugar, too, just like my Mom always did.

MarmePurl said...

My dad was a baker an I worked for him while in HS and college. I loved making the puffs and eclairs..happy for the rekindled memory...and I think the hub will be treated to some garlic puffs tonight for our ususal Friday night appitizer style dinner.

podso said...

They all look and sound good but those garlic puffs ... oh dear!

Sounds like a fun time tonight...I hope you enjoy all the prep too; I think you probably do!

Shanley said...

I'm going to have to try the cream puffs. They look too good to resist!

Savannah Granny said...

Martha, I am salivating as I type. I know that sounds gross but these look soooo good.
I too have made my puffs in the past. I don't know why I don't do it more often. It IS so easy.
Thanks for sharing and reminding us.
Hugs, Ginger

Cass @ That Old House said...

Oh Martha, I have not made cream puff dough for YEARS. The first time I made it, I was astounded that it worked ... I was convinced I'd have a disastrous mess of glop on my hands. It's like magic.

I have never used pate a choux for savory fillings. In fact, I'm a lazy baker -- I form it into Paris Brest and don't have to bother with all the individual puffs!

Dion says Hi to Ollie!
Love to all at Linderhof,

Pondside said...

Those sounds so good - I haven't made them for years, but I'll be making those little garlic clouds soon!

Pat said...

Yes these are the easiest thing to make and impress everyone! Just not good to do on a humid day. I use a scoop too, always the same size.

Anonymous said...

Garlic Puffs question: what happens to the 12 cloves of garlic?? Were they minced before added? o

Martha said...

Mimi -- yes, they were -- did I leave that out of the recipe (I will correct) -- minced fairly finely and the aroma as they were baking . . .