In New York, there is a place called the Shoe Factory, or at least thats what I liked to call it. Its the sort of place that you really only discover by word of mouth after having lived there for some time. Though since closed, it was small and not much to write home about. If you were to judge this little shop by its cover, you would probably walk right on by. I would tell visitors that they were in for a treat and that we were going to get some of the best “shoes” around. I would enjoy watching their bewildered faces when they tried to understand why we were going shoe shopping.
In fact, we were off to devour some light, fluffy, and deep down delicious cream puffs, the best around. The place, which in reality was called the Choux Factory, made chouxs, or French cream puffs. Walking in to this no fluff establishment that looked more like an odd box deli, always felt like my little secret, a piece of my New York. So it is with that thought that I set to work creating these sweet bites of cream puff joy.
*This recipe is adapted slightly from Coffee Cream Puffs in A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson.
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 7 tbsp butter
- 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup and 2tbsp flour
- confectioners’ sugar (optional)
- 2 tsp instant coffee or 2+ tsp fresh coffee (optional)
- semisweet chocolate chips and your favorite small cookie cutter (optional)
- In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla to a low boil over medium heat.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and flour.
- Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly and very fast to prevent curdling. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and whisk constantly over low heat until the mixture starts to thicken. This may take some time, about 5-10 minutes.
- Once it has thickened, take off the heat and whisk in the butter.
- If you would like to make coffee cream in addition to vanilla cream, divide the cream in half. Leave half as is for the vanilla cream and in a separate bowl add the instant coffee or fresh coffee to the remaining half of the cream.
- Transfer the remaining vanilla cream to a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the cream in each bowl to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely, then place in the fridge until it is cold and thick, at least 4 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, water, sugar, and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Take off the heat, add the flour all at once, and combine until the dough is smooth.
- Return to heat for 1 minute, or more if needed, stirring constantly to dry the dough slightly. The dough should be forming a ball. Remove from the heat and add the eggs and combine.
- Put the dough in a pastry bag with a large plain tip and on a baking sheet, pipe out small round balls, about the size of a golf ball. You can round out the ball with the back of a wet spoon or with wet fingertips. They do not need to be perfect and will come into their own shape in the oven.
- Bake at 400 degrees from anywhere between 15 and 25 minutes depending on your oven. Take them out when they are puffed and a nice golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool.
- Just prior to serving, add the cream to a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip.
- Cut a small hole or slit in the base of each puff with a small sharp knife.
- Pipe the vanilla or coffee cream into each of the puffs. You will know when the puffs are full of cream when they start to get heavy or even start to feel full in your hand like blowing up a balloon.
- For an extra sweet topping, melt some semisweet chocolate chips in a double boiler, or the microwave. Pour onto wax paper and refrigerate briefly until mostly hardened. Using your favorite small cookie cutter, cut out small shapes in the chocolate and place on top of each cream puff.
- Dust with confectioners sugar and serve.
When making the coffee cream, using instant coffee will keep the cream nice and thick, whereas adding fresh coffee will thin out the cream a little bit. This is fine and will still taste delicious. Also, be sure to fill each puff to its fullest. There is a lot of room in those little puffs and the more cream the merrier.
If you do not have a pastry bag, not to worry – use a regular plastic baggie. add the dough or cream (at each stage) filling one corner of the baggie. You can do this by placing the baggie in a cup, flipping the top of the baggie over the edge of the cup and then fill. Using a scissor, cut off the size tip in the corner of the bag that you will need and begin piping. The recipe makes about 30 cream puffs.
Wishing you happy chouxs!