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Cream Puffs or Eclairs

1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
1 cup bread flour or all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
4 eggs
Pastry Cream (Vanilla Custard Filling—recipe below)
Powdered sugar or chocolate glaze

Vanilla Custard Filling

3 egg yolks
3 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. vanilla

Position rack in lower third of oven; heat oven to 425 degrees. Heatwater and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat to a rolling boil. Remove from heatandimmediately add flour and salt all at once; beat vigorously until thoroughly blended. Return to medium heat. Cook, stirring vigorously, until mixture pulls away from sides of pan and forms a ball, 1–2 minutes. Remove from heat. Let standto cool slightly, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Addeggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition, by hand or with mixer on medium speed, until smooth. Continue beating, if necessary, until glossy and a small quantity of dough scooped on the end of a spoon stands erect.

For cream puffs: Drop dough by scant 1/4 cupfuls, about 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. For éclairs: Shape scant 1/4 cupfuls into 4 x 1-inch fingers on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in lower third of 425 degrees oven until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven settingto 375 degrees. Continue baking until firm and golden brown, about 20 minutes longer. Immediately after baking, pierce side of each puff with tip of sharp knife. Cool on wire rack. Just before serving, cut off 1/2-inch from top of each puff; pull out any filaments of soft dough from inside. Spoon scant 1/3 cup pastry cream into each puff; replace tops. Sprinkle cream puffs with powdered sugar; spread éclairs with 2 tsp. chocolate glaze each. Refrigerate leftovers promptly.

FILLING:   Beat egg yolks well in medium bowl or glass measure; gradually stir in milk until blended. Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in large heavy saucepan. Gradually stir in a small amount of milk mixture, making a smooth paste. Gradually stir in remaining milk mixture until blended. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, 20 to 25 minutes. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat immediately. Cool quickly:Set pan in larger pan of ice water. Stir occasionally and gently for a few minutes to hasten cooling. Stir in vanilla. Press piece of plastic wrap onto surface of pastry cream to prevent "skin" from forming. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour.

 

 

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