Our Christmas edition of Big Wild is all about food. It took me two weeks to decide on a dessert for the show. Denny Corriveau and John Schumacher returned to cook with us. At first I felt like I’d really need to step this up and make something fancy. Christmas is all about family and food, but food was never fancy. I reminded myself of my own words of advice – good food doesn’t have to be fancy (or expensive). Cream puffs. They can be made ahead of time. They can be handed off to kids to make or at least fill. They’re simple, beautiful pieces of edible art. They’re a perfect dessert after a great appetizer and entree. And so here we are, making one of my favorite desserts, cream puffs.I’m including the recipe I use for a nice whipped cream filling that holds for days. Instead of granulated sugar I use quite a lot of confectionery sugar. It thickens the cream.
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Place a metal bowl and the beaters or whisk in the freezer ten minutes before whipping the cream.
If you’re going to double or triple the batch you can speed up the process by spooning the dough into a pastry bag. If you don’t have one you can substitute a zipper storage bag. Snip off a 1/4″ of a bottom corner, and squeeze the dough onto the cookie sheet. This also works well with the filling.
I love whipped cream but as a child used pudding. Cream puffs are a family tradition from my childhood so I do sometimes still fill them with butterscotch pudding. You could make a vanilla pudding and stir in tiny bits of crushed candy cane. Custards are nice and so are coconut, lemon or chocolate cream. You can make small batches of filling and have a variety of flavors from one batch of dough.