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Cream Puffs

Cream Puffs
Makes 3 dozen

All-purpose flour, for making Pâte à Choux (Check Below)
1 cup granulated sugar, for sprinkling
1/2 recipe Tart Dough (Check Below)
3/4 cup heavy cream (Pastry Cream) (Check Below)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or with nonstick baking mats, such as Silpats. Dip a 2-inch round cookie cutter in flour, & mark circles 2 inches apart on prepared sheets. Transfer pâte à choux to a pastry bag fitted with a 5/8-inch plain tip (such as an Ateco #808), & pipe puffs to fit in flour circles. Smooth peaks with a moistened finger, rounding tops to ensure even rising. Freeze pastry puffs on baking sheets until firm, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, sprinkle a clean work surface with 1/2 cup granulated sugar, & place tart dough on top of sugar, patting it into a round. Sprinkle another 1/2 cup sugar over dough, & roll to a scant 1/8-inch thick, coating both sides of dough with the sugar to keep it from sticking. Using a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out 36 rounds, & place a round on top of each frozen puff. Return to freezer until firm, at least 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°, with racks in upper & lower thirds.

3. Bake puffs until pale golden brown all over, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets on wire racks. Puffs can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature overnight.

4. Put heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Whisk the pastry cream to soften. Working in 2 batches, fold whipped cream into pastry cream. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (such as an Ateco #806). Insert tip into bottom of each puff, & fill. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cream puffs are best eaten within a few hours; refrigerate in an airtight container.

Tart Dough
Makes enough for 3 dozen cream puffs

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons heavy cream

1. Put butter & confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks, & mix until combined, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup flour, & mix just until flour is incorporated. Add remaining 3/4 cup flour, the salt, & cream; mix until just combined, about 1 minute.

2. Shape dough into a disk; wrap in plastic, & refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

Pastry Cream
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped & reserved Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1. Bring milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean & seeds, & salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

2. Whisk egg yolks, cornstarch, & remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Whisking, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture into yolk mixture. Slowly add remaining milk mixture until incorporated. Pour mixture back into the saucepan, & cook over medium-high heat, whisking, until it begins to bubble in center & registers 160° on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; discard vanilla bean.

3. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add butter; beat on medium speed until butter has melted & mixture has cooled, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Just before using, beat on low speed or whisk by hand until smooth.

Pâte à Choux
Makes enough for 3 dozen cream puffs

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white

1. Bring butter, sugar, salt, & 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir in flour. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture pulls away from sides & a film forms on bottom of pan, about 3 minutes.

2. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until slightly cooled, about 1 minute. Raise speed to medium; add whole eggs, 1 at a time, until a soft peak forms when batter is touched with your finger. If peak does not form, lightly beat remaining egg white, & mix it into batter a little at a time until it does.

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