Bring out your inner pastry chef and make a cream puff dough, called pâte á choux, and then a luscious cream filling to pipe into the cream puffs. These are also the same basic components that you make for éclairs, but éclairs are usually topped with a sweet icing.
Sunset FEBRUARY 2002
1. Spoon Cream Puff Dough into 10 equal mounds (about 1/4 cup each) about 2 inches apart on two lightly buttered 12- by 15-inch baking sheets.
2. Bake in a 375° regular or convection oven until puffs are golden, 25 to 35 minutes; if baking the sheets at the same time in one oven, switch their positions halfway through. With a wooden skewer, poke each puff in several places, then continue baking until golden brown, dry, and crisp, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Transfer puffs to racks to cool completely.
3. Slice the top third off each puff. Fill each bottom with 1/2 cup of one of the following: ice cream, Chocolate-Orange Cream, or lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with vanilla or a liqueur. Cover with tops, and drizzle each puff with 2 to 3 teaspoons chocolate ice cream topping or sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.
You can make the puffs (through step 2) up to 12 hours ahead; wrap airtight and store at room temperature. Freeze to store longer. To use, place puffs (thawed, if frozen) slightly apart on a 12- by 15-inch baking sheet. Bake in a 400° oven until crisp, 5 to 8 minutes.
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