Italian Cream Puffs
In Italian, cream puffs are called "Bocconcini con Crema" or little mouthfuls of pastry with cream; gelato also makes a wonderful filling. Cream puffs are a very popular item to be served at weddings, birthdays, first communions, and other such celebrations. Serve them with coffee or an Italian liqueur. You can make the cream puffs in advance but do not fill them until a few hours before serving so that the puffs don't get too soggy. Cover and refrigerate the puffs and cream separately until ready to fill.
(Makes 12 large or 18-20 little puffs)
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter and salt. Bring to a boil.
Remove from heat. With a wooden spoon, beat in flour all at once. Return to low heat. Continue beating until mixture forms a ball and leaves side of pan. Remove from heat. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating hard after each addition until smooth. Continue beating until dough is satiny and breaks in strands.
For large puffs, drop by heaping tablespoon, 2-inches apart, on ungreased baking sheet. For little puffs, the dough should be about the size of a walnut.
Bake until puffed and golden (30-40 minutes for large) (25-30 minutes for small)
Puffs should sound hollow when lightly tapped. Let cool completely on wire rack.
To serve, with a sharp knife, cut off tops crosswise. Scoop out any soft dough.
Fill with filling of choice. Replace tops. Frost tops with glaze or sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.
Pastry Cream Filling
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar, divided
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup flour
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil with 1/4 cup of sugar.
Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl with the salt and remaining sugar.
Sift the flour over the egg mixture and whisk it in until smooth.
When the milk boils, slowly whisk one-third of it into the egg mixture.
Then slowly add the egg mixture to the milk in the saucepan.
You must follow these steps to gradually raise the temperature of the eggs.
If you add them all at once to the hot milk they will curdle.
Return the saucepan to a medium heat and again bring to a boil, whisking continually. The mixture should begin to thicken. Allow it to boil for another minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in the vanilla and cinnamon.
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl.
Pastry Cream Variations
Orange: Add the grated zest of one orange to the cold milk and sugar.
Lemon: Add the grated zest of one lemon to the cold milk and sugar.
Chocolate: Add 4 ounces of chopped semisweet chocolate to the hot pastry cream as it comes off the heat. Stir in and allow to sit for 2 minutes, then whisk it in until smooth.
Coffee: Add 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder to the cold milk and sugar.
Rum: Add 2 tablespoons rum or your favorite liqueur to the hot pastry cream as it comes off the heat.
Whipped Cream Filling
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Combine ingredients in bowl of electric mixer.
Mix on high until soft peaks form.
Fill puffs. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar or glaze.
Whipped Cream Variations
Easy Pudding Filling
Prepare one small box of instant vanilla, chocolate, lemon, or other flavor pudding mix. Press plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the pudding until very cold, about 2 hours. Fill puffs. Sprinkle tops with confectioners' sugar. Or purchase ready-made pudding in the refrigerated area of your market and fill puffs.
(Makes 1 cup)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons milk
In top of double boiler, over simmering water, melt chocolate with butter.
Add corn syrup and milk, stirring until smooth and well blended.
Allow to cool slightly. Pour warm glaze over cooled, filled cream puffs on wire rack with baking sheet underneath.
(Makes 1 cup)
8 ounces caramels
1/4 cup water
Place unwrapped caramels and water in top of double boiler over simmering water. Stir until caramels are melted and smooth. Pour warm glaze over cooled, filled cream puffs on a wire rack with baking sheet underneath.
DESSERTS > ITALIAN PASTRIES > ITALIAN CREAM PUFFS
To help all your cream puffs come out the same size
With 6 stainless steel icing tips, 1 reusable silicone pastry bag and 1 reusable plastic coupler, you have necessary tools to decorate cakes or fill cream puffs in a simple, easy way.
A double boiler is the ideal kitchen tool for melting chocolate or cheese or preparing sauces.
With fruit: Cut strawberries, peaches, bananas, pineapple or other fruit into a small dice. Gently fold into the whipped cream.
With fruit puree: Place about 1/2 cup of your fruit of choice into a food processor. Add 1 teaspoon sugar. Blend well and gently fold into whipped cream.
NOTE: If you use raspberries, press the puree through a strainer to remove the seeds before adding it to the whipped cream.
With liqueur: Substitute Kahlua, Grand Marnier, Limoncello, or other flavored liqueur for the vanilla. Increase the amount to 1 teaspoon for a more pronounced flavor.
Cream Puffs with Nutella Whipped Cream
With Nutella: Gently fold about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread) into the whipped cream.
Cream Puffs with Chestnut Whipped Cream
and Chocolate Glaze
With Chestnuts: Gently fold 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sweetened chestnut puree into the whipped cream.
EXTRA KITCHEN WORK AND STORAGE SPACE
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GREAT FOR MAKING MANY TYPES OF FROZEN DESSERTS
The Cuisinart Frozen Dessert Maker makes frozen yogurt, gelato, ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, and frozen drinks in 20 minutes or less. Double-insulated freezer bowl holds up to one and one-half quarts of frozen dessert.
Showcase your culinary creations with professional, sleek mini appetizer spoons which are very easy to pick up and eat. Serve ice cream filled cream puffs in these mini appetizer spoons for a unique dessert.
GIFTS FOR THE ITALIAN COOK
FIORI DI SICILIA
Fiori di Sicilia means "Flowers of Sicily" in Italian. A combination of citrus and vanilla with a pleasingly floral aroma.
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