Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Valentine Swan Cream Puffs

Valentine Swan Cream Puffs
Dorcas Annette Walker

Cream puffs are an old fashioned delicacy that you don’t see around today. The filled donut has taken its place in our culture. Even the dictionary’s definition of a cream puff, a sweet pastry made of a flaky shell filled with whipped cream and dusted with powered sugar, sounds more like filled donut- quite different from the old fashioned cream puffs of yesterday. Recipes for cream puffs are almost non existent.

History wise the Wisconsin State Fair has been home of the original cream puff- an icon dessert food at the fair- for eighty-two years made by the State Fair Dairy Bakery. This bakery sells forty-five cream puffs per minute through six windows. They sell nearly 400,000 cream puffs during the eleven day fair and generate close to one million dollars.

My introduction to cream puffs came as a youngster when my mother decided to make some for a church dinner. The reason it remains vivid in my mind is because my mother, who worked full-time as a nurse to keep our family afloat due to my father being handicapped from severe hemophilia, rarely baked. Making cream puffs was quite a departure from her usual cake. My mother’s announcement clued my sister and me in that this was something we did not want to miss. Seeing her look of concentration, as she studied the recipe muttering to herself, increased the importance of cream puffs in our mind. No scientist ever measured out ingredients with more precision than my mother did that day. The fact that we could only stay in the kitchen if we stayed out of her way and didn’t talk made us more determined not to miss a thing. First she cooked something on the stove, mixed in flour, and then added eggs. The way she kept looking worriedly from her recipe to the mixture in the pan intrigued us. Next she spooned globs of sticky dough on cookie sheets in neat rows. Then instead of leaving the kitchen while the cream puffs were baking, my mother hovered near the oven, rechecking her recipe, peeking in the oven, and frowning at the clock. My sister and I giggled behind our hands. This was better than a cake any day. With bated breath we watched her pull the first batch out of the oven. The cream puffs were doughy. The next batch was overdone. Finally with great relief the third batch was pronounced just right. By the time the cooked pudding gave the finishing touch to the cream puffs my mother’s nerves were at the breaking point. It was my mother’s first and final attempt at making cream puffs.

My Valentine Swan Cream Puffs are a mixture of the old shell recipe using instant pudding and cool whip for the filling. These cream puffs make excellent place settings as decorations. I’ve used them at banquets and special dinners. Not only do these mini culinary masterpieces look good, but they also taste delicious. The couple hours spent in the kitchen preparing Valentine Swan Cream Puffs is well worth the effort. This recipe makes about fifteen swan cream puffs.

Valentine Swan Cream Puffs

Bring to a boil in a saucepan:
1 c water
½ c margarine
Stir in vigorously using a wire Wisk until mixture thickens:
1 c self-rising four
Remove from heat and beat in four eggs until smooth.
Drop by tablespoon on greased cookie sheet flattening the top for bodies. To make the heads squeeze out dough- using an icing bag- to make the shape of a question mark on a separate greased baking sheet. Bake at 375º until beads of moisture are gone. Bodies: 30 minutes; heads: 10 minutes.

Mix together:
1 box instant vanilla pudding
1 ¼ c milk
8 oz container of cool whip
½ tsp almond flavoring

To make Valentine Swan Cream Puffs:
When cool cut off the tops of the bodies and fill with pudding. Stick head at front. Use icing for eyes. Cut the top piece in two lengthwise for wings. Stick wings in pudding on either side of body. Garnish using a valentine doily!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a freelance writer, author, columnist, and photographer from Jamestown, TN. If you have any cooking tips or favorite recipes you are welcome to contact me by mail at: Dorcas Walker, 929 Wildwood Lane, Jamestown, TN 38556 or email me at: dorcaswalker@yahoo.com. For more information about the Walker family and Dorcas’ books check out her website at: www.dorcasannettewalker.com or htpp://dorcasannettewalker.blogspot.com for other Creative Mountain Cookin recipes.

No comments: