My dear English mother loved cream puffs and on rare occasions she would bring a couple of them home from the bakery in a small white box. We were allowed to "admire them", but we all knew they were a special treat for her and I can still picture her face as she closed her eyes and lovingly savored those first bites.
I sure wish I had known how easy they were to make while she was still with us; I would have loved to make them for her; I miss you mom !!
Fill them with anything you like. If you want to use them for a savory filling, like crab salad or something like that; I suggest that you leave out the sugar and vanilla in the recipe.
Cream puffs are great filled with fruit or whipped cream, or (our favorite) the following pastry cream.
2 cups milk (I use 1/2 and 1/2)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (divided)
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 egg yolks
4 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt
Heat the milk and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a heavy sauce pan over medium heat.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and the other 1/4 cup of sugar until light in color, then add the flour and salt and mix very well (I do this with a little hand mixer).
When the milk JUST begins to boil, remove it from the heat and slowly drizzle about half of the hot milk into the yolk mixture (whisk like crazy when you do this). Once well mixed, put everything back into the pan and whisk while you bring it back to a boil. Use a spatula to make sure everything from the edges is well mixed.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for about a minute (it will be very thick). Remove from heat and mix in the butter and vanilla.
Fill the cream puffs just before you serve them. Refrigerate any leftovers.