Two Ways to Choux (paste)

On a rainy/sleeting/snowy day in Montana, what could be better than making a treat for the family? Even if the family is only two people?

This time, I made profiteroles for the Sweet Hubs, and using the same choux paste, dressed differently, I made some bacon cheese puffs for me, because I'm a salty kind of girl.

There isn't much to choux. Really, there isn't. There it is, right here.  A stick of butter, a cup of flour, a cup of water, a pinch of salt and four eggs. What could be easier?

I've been making this in this same saucepan for over 30 years. It doesn't look over 30, does it? Of course, saucepans don't get wrinkles... anyway. Melt the butter over low heat. Then turn the heat up to medium and add the water and salt.
When the butter-water mixture is boiling, add the cup of flour, all at once, and continue cooking, stirring the whole time, until the mixture forms a ball and leaves the sides of the pan.

So that part is easy, right?
When it looks about like that picture on the right, turn off the heat and let it cool for 5 or 10 minutes.
Then you need to add the eggs. Add them one at a time, beating well after each addition. Just as an aside, an old country girl like me breaks each egg in a bowl or cup and examines it before adding it to a batter. You want to check for any blood spots, bits of matter or even just a piece of eggshell. There's nothing like that **crunch** of shell when you think you're biting into a cream puff. Blech. 

Make a little well in the dough, add the egg, and stir it in.The texture is a little funny, I must say. I tried to get a picture of it, but it's difficult to see: your dough is going to have kind of a bunch of slippery layers. Just keep stirring.
After you have added the fourth egg and stirred it in, your choux will look like the photo at right.

Then I get a rubber spatula and spoon the paste into a gallon-size freezer bag.
In this case, I put about 2/3 of the paste into the freezer bag, because I had plans for the other 1/3.

Then just pipe the paste into rounds on a parchment lined sheet, as below.

Do take a butter knife or even a finger dipped in water, and smooth down any little tits. Those get much too brown.

To the other 1/3 of the choux, I just folded in some shredded sharp cheddar cheese and some bacon bits, then dropped this by spoonfuls onto another parchment-lined sheet. Sprinkled with kosher salt and popped them into the oven, next to the ones that are destined to be a treat for my darling. These were baked at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. 

It's tempting, I know, to open the oven door and check on the progress of your pastries, but you simply must control yourself. Wait until you are starting to worry that you're burning them.  Seriously, you want them to be golden brown all over before you open that door. Can you see how even the little crannies are also golden, and there is nothing very pale anywhere?

It may be indecent, but here's a look at their bottom side: not too brown but definitely not pale.

When the shells are cool, just slice a lid off the top, pull out any gooey bits inside or press them down, and fill with whatever you like: pastry cream, whipped cream, prepared pudding, ice cream, frozen margarita...I don't care.

The chocolate topping I used is also super simple: a heap of good quality chocolate chips, melted over low-low heat, with a splash of heavy cream added so it doesn't become brittle again when the pastries are chilled. 

For my Sweet Hubs, Mr. Sweet Tooth, a profiterole. These are filled with almond pastry cream and topped with chocolate.

For me, who doesn't happen to own a sweet tooth, Bacon Cheddar Cheese Puffs. These are fabulous as a vehicle for spinach-artichoke dip, but they're luscious just plain, too.

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