My mother comes from a small German town called Langmeil. When she married my father and moved to the States she wasn't able to visit home often. But whenever she did, my Oma's best friend, Frau Sapp (which I've probably spelled wrong), would always make cream puffs for her because they were a favorite treat. Since I know this tidbit of information I always think of my mother, my Oma, Frau Sapp and Langmeil whenever I have cream puffs. It's a very happy event.
What is odd about them is though they are incredibly easy to make, I very rarely make them. Now that I've revisited them I think I'll be making them more often.
Frau Sapp went with a very simple sweetened whipped cream to fill hers and they were divine. I went with Chantilly custard and we may have wept while eating them. "I think the filling could live on it's own in a bowl", were the words of my best friend. And thus we have found our Chemical X.
pate a choux:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1 cup flour
pinch of salt
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Make the custard for the filling first as it has to cool completely in the refrigerator. Put the milk in a medium saucepan and scald over medium heat. In a medium bowl mix together eggs, sugar, cornstarch and salt with a whisk. Once milk has reached temperature, take a ladleful and slowly whisk it into the egg mixture. Repeat one more time. Whisk tempered egg mixture slowly back into the remaining milk in the saucepan and cook until thickened. Remove from heat, allow to cool for a minute and then whisk in the vanilla. Pour into a bowl and put plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard. Refrigerate until completely cooled.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two backing sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Bring butter and water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Pour the flour and salt into the boiling liquid all at once and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes. Mix eggs into the dough one at a time, making sure to fully incorporate each one. Mixture should now be like a thick paste and glossy. Using a two inch ice cream scoop, drop scoops of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about and inch or so between. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly browned. Cool completely either on the pans or on wire racks.
Complete the Chantilly custard by whipping the heavy cream to soft peaks and then whip in the powdered sugar until stiff peaks are formed. Fold whipped cream into the cooled custard. Slash open each puff to create a pocket and either spoon or pipe Chantilly custard into each one. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. Though they should be assembled right before serving, leftover cream puffs that have been stored in the refrigerator taste awesome as well.