Puff pastries dress up every holiday table

Yankee Chef logoNOTE: I’m extending my offer for my newest cookbook, Refreshed, for sale to you, the reader, for the month of December for the price of $20 (including shipping and handling). Each is signed and personalized as a thank you for all the emails I have received. Simply email me at theyankeechef@aol.com. I have truly been blessed not only by the number of signed copies of my cookbook that you have asked for, but also because of the tremendous number of emails I have received from those of you both in the cyber world and print. I hear from so many of you with cooking questions or to  simply say “Hello.” I can’t thank you enough, other than extending this offer.  After December, the price will be commensurate with all other book selling venues Refreshed is sold.

By Jim Bailey

Here’s a master recipe for puff pastries and eclairs. Yes, I do realize the both puff pastries and eclairs are one and the same, but many differentiate them by how they are ultimately formed and baked. That is why I am giving you a foolproof recipe that can be used for classic eclairs and a special Christmas puff to enjoy while family and friends can be there to see you gloat over a perfectly soft and crispy treat. Merry Christmas everyone.

eclairss1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1 cup flour
4 eggs
Vanilla pudding for eclairs, shortcut recipe below
Chocolate glaze for eclairs, recipe below
Candied cherry filling for puff pastries, recipe below
Powdered sugar for puff pastries

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees F. In a medium saucepan, bring water and butter to a rapid boil. When butter has completely melted, immediately remove from heat.

Pour boiling water mixture into the bowl of the mixer, along with flour. Beat with the paddle attachment* until mixture comes together. Add eggs, one a time, until each is completely beaten into dough.

candiedcherrypuffpastriessFor eclairs, fill a piping bag, without a tip, halfway. Squeeze out 7 to 8-inch lengths onto an ungreased baking pan. Each eclair should be about a 1/2-inch wide and just as thick.

Leave 2 inches between each row.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until medium brown all over and hard to the touch. Remove pan from oven and let eclairs cool on pan until ready to fill.

For puff pastries, simply scoop out 1/4-cup mounds of puff dough onto ungreased pan and bake 20 to 25 minutes until browned and crisp.

* You can use a sturdy rubber spatula (which I do 90 percent of the time) or a sturdy wooden spoon. Just make sure that, after adding each egg, the mixture is completely smooth and each egg is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next one.

If making eclairs, make shortcut vanilla pudding simply by following the directions on a 3.4 ounce package of instant vanilla pudding mix, but reduce milk to 1 3/4 cups.

While it is setting for a few minutes, poke the handle end of a thin butter knife in one end of each eclair and gently hollow out each. Add the pudding to a piping bag, or a sturdy plastic baggie with a corner cut off, and squeeze enough pudding into each eclair to fill. Set aside while making chocolate glaze.

Microwave 1 cup chocolate chips with 1/4 cup milk for 30 to 45 seconds, uncovered. Remove to stir until smooth, adding more time if needed.

Spoon glaze over each eclair and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

To make candied cherry puff pastries, simply beat 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese, 1 cup whipped topping until smooth. Fold in 3/4 cup chopped, candied cherries and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until blended well. Cut each puff in half and scoop out any soft dough inside if desired. I leave it in.

Fill each puff with equal amounts of filling and dust with powdered sugar. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at theyankeechef@aol.com.

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