Oh My! Kitchen Party recipe submitted by Colleen Attara
What this dish means to me
Here are two vivid memories years apart that evoke the same feeling of pure joy.
When I was three, my sister walked me into town and put a nickel into a gumball machine that was filled with small toys. She turned the handle and it just kept turning. All of tiny toys spilled out. We caught them in our shirts and ran home yelling with joy.
15 years later, I am graduating high school. I have an impromptu party with my parent’s approval. My friend Marie arrives with a tray with 50 to 60 homemade cream puffs. Her mom made the best cream puffs I have ever had. We put them in the refrigerator to chill. More and more people arrive. The night flashes by in an instant. The guests are gone. I open the refrigerator and there is the tray piled high with cream puffs. They were never served. Once again, I hit the jackpot.
I have tried for years to come close to that tray of cream puffs and I think that I have done it. I have read and tried multiple recipes. What is here is a compilation of what it takes to make the very best cream puff. Starting out at a higher oven temperature and at the very end, turning off the oven and leaving the door open are key for dry puffs.
Dream whip is a staple in my house. I love how it tastes. My mother had it in her kitchen and now I have it in mine. And don’t we all always have a package of instant pudding around?
I make these cream puffs for friends and people who support me in my art. Four of these on a tray with a tiny note are a very sweet thank you.
I now am known in my circle of close friends as the cream puff maker. I take that title very seriously.
Prep time: 40 minutes total
Cook time in oven: 50 minutes
Preheat oven to 400 (reduce heat to 350 after 15 minutes)
To Make the Pastry:
- 1 cup of water
- 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 cup of flour
- 4 large eggs
- I egg yolk
- I teaspoon of water
To Make the Filling:
- 3 cups of milk
- I large package of instant vanilla pudding (5.1 oz)
- 3 envelopes of Dream Whip Whipped Topping Mix (2 come in a package)
- Fresh strawberries
- Fresh raspberries
In a medium saucepan, add the water, butter, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat. Mix in the flour. It will start to turn into a paste.
Put the saucepan back over low heat and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough leaves the sides of the pan to form a circle. This will take about 2 minutes.
Then remove the dough paste to another bowl and mix a bit to release the heat. Beat all 4 eggs together in a separate bowl and slowly add the eggs to the paste a few tablespoons at a time. Mix the eggs thoroughly in the mixture using an electric hand mixer. The batter will become very smooth.
Spray the baking sheet ever so lightly with cooking oil.
Then place 2-inch mounds of dough 2 inches apart on a baking pan. I use a bit of water on my finger to smooth out the peaks on the top that may become browner.
Then beat an egg yolk with a teaspoon of water. Brush the top of each cream puff with this egg yolk mixture.
Put these lovely creampuffs on the middle rack and bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 and cook for another 25 minutes. Lastly, turn off the oven, open the door and allow the cream puffs to dry out a drop. This prevents them from being too spongy in the middle.
While the pastry is baking, it is time to mix the filling. In a large bowl, I mix the instant vanilla pudding, 3 envelopes of dream whip and 3 cups of milk. Mix this cream with a hand mixer until it is thick and smooth. What I love best about this mixture is that it is not too sweet; it is perfect.
Let the pastry cool a drop and with a very sharp knife, cut each shell in half. Fill it with cream and a few slices of strawberries or raspberries. I love the cream peeking over the sides with pieces of bright red fruit showing.
Lastly arrange on a lovely dish, sprinkle with powered sugar and add a little sprig of fresh mint. There is nothing that comes close to this! The best part is if any last until the next day, they taste even better, if that is possible.
I am an eco-artist and reuse materials to make joyful art. I am also a treasure hunter. Reusing materials in my art is the only way I have ever wanted to create. When I spot something in a salvage yard, I see both what it is and what it can become.