Cream Puffs

Yes, lovies, we've made it thru yet another week and the weekend is upon us! I don't know about the weather where you are but here in SoCal it's been gorgeous this week!!! I think it's Mother Nature's way of apologizing for the craptastic rain-fest she heaped upon us all of last week and especially last weekend... grrrr!!! But this week the weather has been in the high 70's and low 80's with more of the same forecasted for this weekend =)

This weekend is the LA Marathon!! I've picked up my bib, official t-shirt, goodie bag and just as sure as you can say Yes Siree Ricky Bobby I'll be joining the pack this weekend. Now, before you start thinkin "daaaaaaang, that RPC is not just a repressed pastry chef but she's an athlete too" let me assure you that is definitely not the case. I'm not a runner... no way... no how... nuh uhn! The only thing I run toward is the pastry cart and the only thing I run from is responsibility! heehee =) In case you missed that part... I am not a runner. But I am a cyclist! I absolutely love being on my bike. I've previously blogged about the love fest I have for my bike and for cycling so I won't bore you again. But yes indeed to I love to cycle. One of the "events" within the LA Marathon is the Acura LA Bike Tour - 22 miles through the streets of Los Angeles on the route of the LA Marathon - and that my friends is the event that I'm doing!!! {insert cheering crowd sounds here} Woohoo!!! Yippee!!! All Right!!! Bravo!!! {insert more applause sounds here} Oh yeah, and DJ's doing it too :)

I am so incredibly excited I just can't stand it!!!!!!!!

So today I discover there are "rules" to this bike challenge thang. Okay, I'll be honest and tell you I'm not big on "rules"... I'm rather rebellious that way. Oh nothing serious mind you but if the speed limit sign says 45, I'm usually going 50. Oh yes siree, I'm a rebel alright ;-) But I suppose in order to soften things and sound a bit better they don't come straight out and call it "the rules" they call it "The Basics". Yeah, okay whatever. Same thing in my book. Rules like "All riders will be required to wear helmets"... sounds reasonable; "Do not mail entries after Feb 10, 2008"... reasonable too; "All riders must complete the Acura LA Bike Tour at a minimum nine miles per hour pace. Riders who cannot maintain the nine mph pace will be directed to bail out routes." {insert screetching tire sound here} WHAT?!?!?!?!?! Okay now I assure you, if you're a somewhat decent cyclist who regularly rides a road or hybrid bike, 9mph is not a tremendously challenging pace. On the flats, I'm comfy going around 16-17mph. But but but buuuuuuuttttttttt when it comes to climbing hills, holy smokes 9mph is a challenge for me. I think. I mean, that's the only thing that worries me. I don't wanna be all wussy or stuff and have to use a bail out route... I'll be mortified if that happens. And I surely don't wanna be kicked off the course for not being able to complete it by 8am. OMG!!! Just the thought of that happening is enough to motivate my butt to ride strong cuz ya know what, The Repressed Pastry Chef ain't no cream puff!!! hahahahaha

And speaking of cream puffs... I love em. Love em! Love em! Love em! When I was a little girl my dad had some friends who would come to visit about once a month or so. On their way over, they always stopped by the bakery and bought a box of cream puffs. Heaven. That's the only word to describe those delectable goodies. A nice bread-like puff filled with sweetened bavarian cream and dusted with powdered sugar. M'mmmmm.... soooooo goooood. When eating cream puffs the most appropriate happy noise is "nom nom nom" followed by "nom nom nom" and then with a chaser of "nom nom nom" bringing up the rear!!. I could eat them one after another after another. Yes, I love cream puffs... and I'm not ashamed to say it. Say it loud "I love cream puffs... and I'm proud" hahaha.

One Friday last month I decided to attempt making cream puffs. The concept seemed challenging... daunting even... but it was a Friday night, I was home and I let out a whoop! whoop! and decided to go for it =) And boy oh boy was I ever glad I did. The cream was so good I could eat it by the spoonful... but I didn't... only because I needed it for the puff filling! LOL! Making cream puffs really wasn't as difficult as had envisioned it to be. Truth be told the difficult part was not eating all of them myself! Okay Okay... I lie... I pretty much did eat them all myself... DJ had one or two, pronounced them "good" and that was it. "Good???" I asked. "Good???". The guy has no real appreciation for these little pieces of heaven. But that's okay, just means more for me :) And for me it was more... and more... and more... and before I knew it, Monday rolled around there were no cream puffs left to take to work. So, lesson learned... I do not make cream puffs on a Friday night!!! LOL
Have a great weekend...
and think of me on Sunday morning as I'm doing the Acura LA Marathon Bike Tour!!!!

Bavarian Cream
2 cups milk
1/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bavarian Cream
Combine the milk and 1/4 cup of sugar in a saucepan and over medium heat bring to a boil. Whisk the egg in a separate bowl. Combine the cornstarch and the rest of the sugar then stir this mixture into the egg until smooth. When the milk/sugar mixture comes to a boil, very slowly pour it in a thin stream into the bowl containing the cornstarch/sugar/egg mixture... be sure you continue stirring to prevent the eggs from cooking. Return the combined mixture to the saucepan, and slowly bring to a boil... be sure you stir this constantly so the eggs don' t curdle or scorch on the bottom. When this comes to a boil and thickens, remove from heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla, mixing until the butter is completely blended in. Pour into a heat-proof container and refrigerate. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream before storing in the fridge... this will prevent a "skin" from forming on the surface. But then again, if you eat it right away there's no chance for the skin to develop... oh... but wait... you can't eat it right away since if you do you'll have nothing for the cream puff filling! hahahaha

Pastry Puffs
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
4 eggs

Pastry Puff
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan, heat until the butter has melted then bring to a rolling boil. Add the flour all at once, stirring rapidly until the mixture is smooth and follows the spoon around the pan; this should take less than 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes. It’ll still feel hot, but you should be able to hold a finger in it for a few seconds. Transfer the dough to a mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time - the mixture will look curdled at first, but when you add the last egg it will become smooth. Beat for 1 minute after adding the last egg. The batter will be stiff and smooth. Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared sheets and smooth any peaks with a wet finger. Keep them about 1 ½" to 2" apart since they’re going to expand to about the size of a golf ball. Bake for about 20 minutes, till they’re medium golden brown, puffy and look dry. Remove from the oven and use a sharp knife to cut a slit into the side of each puff to let steam escape (keeps them from getting soggy). Put the puffs back in the oven for 5 minutes and then take them out and transfer to a cooling rack.