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How to Make Midget Cream Puffs (Petits Choux)

September 17, 2015

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How to Make Midget Cream Puffs (Petits Choux)

I had not made cream puffs in years. I remember doing some years ago for a reception/tea. My trusty 70’s era bridal-shower-gift Betty Crocker Cookbook rose to the occasion.

BettyCrockerCookbook

I remember being astounded at how easy it was to actually make cream puffs or even éclairs, and they both look so impressive and well, like Julia Child or Martha Stewart French, don’t you think?

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We had a meeting looking to the future of Valley Living where I serve as editor the other night. I promised to bring snacks and decided to make cream puffs. (See that’s the thing about having a semi-cooking blog and a semi-recipe book, you volunteer to do all sorts of cooking you wouldn’t otherwise do, just so you have something to write about and photograph.)

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L to R: Former Valley Living Board Chair Laban Peachey, current Board Treasurer Bill Troyer, and local writer for Valley Living, Lauree Purcell.

One of the men at the meeting was Laban Peachey, former president of Hesston College, who helped launch its remarkable and visionary aviation program, and former board chair for Valley Living in its earlier days. Laban is famous for having a story for every occasion (and of course that’s what Living is all about, sharing great and uplifting stories). Laban did not disappoint.

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Going on 89 (he said at this age he now likes to talk up his next birthday, to make him seem even older and more impressive), as he chomped into his Petits Choux, he said “I can’t eat a cream puff without remembering when I was eight years old and someone brought cream puffs to school for a party. They were so delicious and I had never eaten one before. Now I take a bite and I’m right back there, eight years old.” I asked him if I could share his little story and of course he said sure. (Why else do you tell stories?)

Food and stories. They go together.

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Have a cream puff.

1 cup water
½ cup butter or margarine
1 cup all purpose flour (may want to sift flour to avoid lumps)
4 eggs

Fillings

Vanilla cream pudding (instant or other homemade) or sweetened whipped cream or prepared whipped topping.

Topping options

Powdered sugar
Slivered almonds
Chocolate sauce
Whipped topping

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bring water and butter to rolling boil. Stir in flour. Stir vigorously (so it does not burn) over low heat about 1 minute or until mixture joins together/pulls away from sides/almost forms a ball.

StirDough

Remove from heat. Let it sit just a minute to cool (so it won’t cook your eggs when you add them). Meanwhile break eggs, then beat them in with flour/butter/water dough, all at one time. (Betty Crocker says no need to add them one at a time as in some recipes.) Beat until it becomes smooth. (I used a mixer to beat, but you can just use a spoon.) Drop dough by slightly rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.

Baking

Bake 25-30 minutes or until puffed and golden.

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About 4-5 dozen puffs (or 2-3 dozen, depending on how big you make the teaspoonfuls).

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Cool (away from draft). Cut off tops, or cut in half, depending on the size. Pull out any larger filaments of soft puff.

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Fill puffs with vanilla, other pudding, or whipped cream. Replace tops.

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Dust with powdered sugar. Top with drizzle of chocolate syrup like you’d use on ice cream, a nut, or red raspberry. Refrigerate until served. Can be frozen. (Adapted from Betty Crocker Cookbook, 1974 edition.)

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Is there a food that takes you back to your childhood?

I’d love to hear your story or food memory!

***

That’s what family dinner time is all about–an opportunity to bond and laugh around shared stories.

Dinner prompt: What is a favorite food from your childhood? What is one of the earliest foods you remember eating?

***

We’re celebrating Family Dinner Night all month on this blog. If you don’t have the book Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Family Mealtime now is the time! Check it out.

Whatever Happened to Dinner?

 

 

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6 Comments
  1. Your food presentations look lovely. Good for you: I know how tedious it is to prepare dishes for the camera.

    I see Laban Peachey here whom I remember from EMC. I wonder whether he is related to the owner of Peachey House. Hmmm . . .

    • That’s a good question about the Peachey House, given your recent post! I will try to find out sometime. I was also trying to figure out where that was on campus…
      My colleagues at my other job enjoyed the cream puff leftovers the next day, even though they were by then a bit messier.

  2. Athanasia permalink

    Cream puffs are delicious. Did not know they had different names depending on the size?

    Two memories I have…I remember sitting at the kitchen table, probably about 5 years old and we each had an artichoke and a little dish of butter. It was the first time I had ever had them, any of us I think. I should ask my mother if she remembers the details. I vaguely think it was visiting relatives that had brought them from some warmer climate. It was so delicious.

    Second, not a food, but a beverage this time. Every summer in August we went to Grandma Trudi’s house for her birthday and “the boys” (some of her 8 sons) would set up the galvanized wash tub in the shade and fill with ice and water and these wonderful little glass bottles (? 6oz or 8oz) of soda in every imaginable color and flavor. Black cherry, lemon lime, cream, orange, cola, grape, strawberry, root beer… We were only supposed to have one each and that was such a treat. We loved to collect all the bottle caps, each colorfully decorated to match the contents, and filled our pockets with as many as we could find. Such a treasure when you are 5,6,7 or so.

    • Thanks for your memories. Artichoke would make an impression for a child! So different at first glance. I’m not sure where or when I ate my first one but I know it was an occasion out of the ordinary for those of us raised on standard Indiana farm & garden vegetables!

      The birthday wash tub filled with those old small soda pops–what a wonderful tradition–and I can imagine your joy in collecting the bottle caps. Did they have those little cork liners in them too? What I remember is carefully prying out the liner, and then using the liner and bottle top to create an unusual pin or badge for your shirt or blouse, and stuffing the cork liner back in on the inside of your shirt, thereby affixing it to your clothing. Do you get what I mean? What a memory you stirred–so random–something I haven’t even thought about it decades!! Thanks, Athanasia!!

      • Athanasia permalink

        Hmm, I understand your description of making the bottle cap-button, but I do not remember cork in them. Of course, soon the little glass bottles (which came in a wooden box for returns) went the way of the aluminum can. Then, naturally, we collected the pull tops and made chains with those.

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