I made a point not to overschedule summer for the kids - to give them time to relax and do a lot of nothing. Well, with a month left of summer vacation, my kids have been using the "B" word lately. They're "B"ored! So they begged me to make one of the recipes out of their kids cookbook - they wanted to make cream puffs! So there I was in the middle of my second batch of pesto and they want to get started - now! I really don't like to have two projects going on in the kitchen at the same time because the messes get a little out of control (I'll let the photos speak for themselves), but I let them do this recipe mostly on their own while I finished up with the abundant basil from the garden.
You might think cream puffs would be too difficult an undertaking for kids, but they really are pretty easy. I think those French chefs gave the dough the name Pate a Choux to make all of the rest of the world think it's a complicated pastry, but it's not complicated at all. Just mix up the dough in a pot on the stove and stir like crazy. Add eggs and stir again like crazy. Plop the dough onto a cookie sheet using a small ice cream scoop and bake. Once you've learned how to make this dough, you can make sweet chocolate eclairs or savory gougeres.
Let the puffs cool on a cooling rack, piercing each one to let out the steam.
Then slice each puff in half and fill with whipped cream - the homemade kind, sweetened just a bit.
By this time, I was finished with the basil and that left a little more room for the kids to work. Supervise carefully while the stove and sharp knives are being used, but otherwise just a little guidance is all that's needed.
The hardest part was deciding who would do which job because of course they all wanted to do everything. But in the end, they took turns reading the recipe, performing the tasks, putting things away, and licking the bowls. I got the coveted job of doing the dishes, but at least I didn't have to hear the "B" word for the rest of that day!
And here comes the easiest part - eating them!
One year ago: My CSA and Dill Pickles and Blackberry Scones
from Children's Quick and Easy Cookbook by Angela Wilkes
For the pate a choux dough:
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
For the sauce
4 oz semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons heavy cream
For the filling:
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with a silpat or cooking spray and sprinkle with water.
2. Cut up the butter and heat it in a saucepan with the water.
3. Sift the flour and sugar together. When the water boils, remove it from the heat and add the flour and sugar mixture.
4. Beat the mixture hard with a wooden spoon until it is smooth and comes away from the sides of the pan.
5. Beat the eggs, then beat them into the mixture, a little at a time, until you have a thick, smooth, glossy paste.
6. Put teaspoons of the mixture onto the cookie sheet and bake 20-25 minutes until puffy and golden brown.
7. Put the cream puffs on a wire rack to cool. Pierce them with a fork to let out any steam and to keep them from getting soft.
8. Break the chocolate into a saucepan. Add the butter and cream. Stir over low heat until the chocolate has melted.
9. Whip the cream and 1 T sugar with a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment until thick. Slice each puff and fill with the cream.
10. Arrange the puffs on a serving plate and drizzle with chocolate sauce. Serve immediately.