When I take a moment to consider my favorite parts of the Holiday season, it's the memories with my family that always rise to the surface. More specifically, I treasure the way we celebrate Christmas Eve together. The entire day is filled with casual, quality-time and fabulous food traditions that each family member has had a part in shaping.
For us, the afternoon of Christmas Eve is spent playing card games together while we eat our favorite appetizers. In the evening, we savor a big meal and then we must work together to clean up before exchanging any gifts ("All the dishes must be done!" mandated the momma many years ago). Later that evening we go to church together, then we come home to top off the day. That is when we enjoy our special, Christmas Eve dessert: Danish Cream Puffs with homemade whipped cream filling. Mm-mmmm!
I am a little embarrassed to say that I had never made these myself, but now that I'm expanding my culinary horizons, I thought that this year I might be able to pitch in by preparing these delicious little pastries. I made a test batch at home and found this decadent dessert to be surprisingly simple (if you don't forget a crucial ingredient like I did with my first attempt... more on that later!).
Start by setting your oven to 400 degrees. The batter-making process goes really quickly, so don't wait to set that oven. Now, combine your water, salt and butter in a small saucepan.
Heat the mixture on medium until it comes to a full boil.
Quickly add your cup of flour and stir it thoroughly until a ball of dough forms. Remove it from the heat and let that cool for 10 minutes.
So here is where I got over excited with my first batch: after the dough cooled, I divided it up and baked it. Don't make this mistake! I couldn't figure out why they were not "puffing". At the thirty minute mark, I mumbled to no one in particular, "These babies had better start fluffing in the next five minutes, or I... well... I don't know what I'll do." In my second batch, I remembered that you have to add four eggs to your cooled mixture! Beat them in one at a time, and your cream puffs will be MUCH more successful.
After your eggs are thoroughly incorporated, divide up the batter in 1/4 cup portions. I just used my little measuring cup. Make sure to give the dough a few inches to puff up without joining together.
While your puffs are happily baking away, you can get your filling ready. There are lots of choices for stuffing your cream puffs - ice cream, jam, berries - choose whatever your favorite is! My family members are purists in the sense that we love to fill our puffs with good, old-fashioned homemade whipped cream. My mom usually makes a vanilla batch and a chocolate one so each person can choose their filling on Christmas eve. I decided to ease into it since I'm new to cream puff making, so I made this simple - and ridiculously delicious - vanilla whipped cream.
Just combine your sugar and LAND O'LAKES Heavy Whipping Cream in a bowl and beat at super-speed until it stiffens.
Once you can see peaks forming, add the vanilla.
Then gently fold it into the whipped cream with a spatula. Refrigerate the filling until you're ready to use it later.
Check back on your puffs now. You can tell they are ready when they have fluffed up and are begginning to brown. These look WAY more appetizing than my first batch! I guess it's all a learning experience, right?
Just as I was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over my successful batch of puffs, I heard someone try to stealthily open the refrigerator... since it's just me and the hubby in our house, it's tough to pass the blame on anyone else. Can you tell he likes the whipped cream?
Once the puffs have completely cooled, cut or break off a little "cap". You can pull out any fluffly pieces from the inside, but I kind of like those, so I wasn't too picky about cleaning the puff out for my taste-test.
Now, simply fill the puff with your sweet whipped cream, place the top back on and sprinkle with a little powdered sugar. It's a light, fluffy tradition you'll want to continue!
Looking to try an elegant (but easy) new dessert for the holidays? Give this Danish Cream Puff recipe a try and let me know what your favorite filling is! And, as always, I'd love for you to rate and review the recipe. Happy Holidays!
Need an appetizer worthy of ringing in the New Year? Flatbread pizza may be just what you're looking for! Come back on Monday when Becky shares how to make an app that will have you celebrating.
Amanda is paid to write for the Land O'Lakes Recipe Buzz™ Blog.