Last week my sister made wedding soup which made her think of my mom which in turn made me think of my mom. Certainly wedding soup was one of her signature dishes and we could never seem to get enough of it. I can still hear her scolding me that I was making the meatballs too big. Oh those tiny tiny meatballs. Both my sister and I still make it and always strive to achieve results as good as my moms. My sisters is most excellent. Mine is very good but not quite of mom caliber yet. Still I labor on to achieve her perfection. Last Christmas my sister passed the recipe on to her daughter (my favorite niece) and I have to say that she was just about spot on to my moms. I remember sitting around the table on Christmas eating it and we were all pretty much in tears over it. But, I digress. As I have said, the wedding soup was a signature, as was her wonderful Creamed Chicken and Biscuits (my all time favorite). But, the one recipe that totally screams mom is her cream puffs. She made them for us often and they were always such a welcome sight. As a child I remember sitting up on the counter watching her make them and I thought she must be some kind of magician. She would put trays of these goopy lumps of dough into the oven and out would come these huge golden puffs ready to be filled. As much as that fascinated me the best part for me was her wonderful vanilla cream filling. She would make it while the puffs were baking and then pour it out an a platter, cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to cool. I would keep sneaking into the kitchen to swipe a finger into it for a taste. I remember that I would always swipe along the edge thinking that she would never notice what I was up to. Of course that was never the case and she would always scold me that if I didn’t stop there wouldn’t be any left to put in the cream puffs. I would just shrug and think, who cares I can just eat it all this way.
At any rate, all week I have been thinking about those cream puffs and decided to make some. My moms cream puffs were enormous. At least in my childhood memories of them. Maybe my sister remembers differently but I still believe they were huge. Mine aren’t that big. I also decided to make some chocolate eclairs as they both use the same recipe and it is just too easy and too quick not to do both.
Just use whatever pate a choux recipe you like. My moms was straight out of Betty Crocker. Mine is similar but uses a few more eggs. For eclairs, pipe diagonal lines about 4 inches long and space them about 2 inches apart using a 1/2 inch plain piping tube. For cream puffs, using the same tube pipe them about 1 to 1 1/2 inches around and about 1 1/2 tall again spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes.
I filled my eclairs with chocolate pastry cream and then dipped them in chocolate glaze. My cream puffs were filled with my favorite vanilla pastry cream and then dusted with confectioners sugar.