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Detour into the Kitchen: Valentine Creme Puffs

I'm not the kind of gal who makes a fuss about Valentine's Day.  But today was a quiet Sunday afternoon
 and it seemed like the right time to bake something. 
I found a recipe for Creme Puffs (Dearly Beloved's fave!)
in an old cookbook that likely belonged to my Grandmother. 

More than a cookbook, it's a homemaker's handbook,
offering instruction on everything
from how to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, 
 how to stretch the food dollar,
 a primer on meat, to how to equip your kitchen. 

 There are entire chapters devoted to the
"care of food in the home"
 and the "diet pattern." 

Words of encouragement and advice are passed along to the modern homemaker. 
Here are a few charming tidbits:

              Eat first what you need, then finish with anything you want.
                Use your own ingenuity, not your neighbors, when making salads!

All this is great reading!  
And from the chapter entitled
Dishwashing Made Easier: 

Dishwashing can be made practically painless even dudring those long years between the honeymoon, when the man of the house helps with supper dishes and likes it, and the time when the children a big enough to do them along without casualties.  It's all in knowing the shortcuts and many of these are mapped out out in this chapter.

But on to the Cream Puffs:

The pastry is easy to make
and I'll also share the recipe for the Creme filling,
though I confess that I used packaged Bavarian Creme
 from the local sweet shop. 
 Equally good fillings would be ice cream, whipped cream,
 or even chicken salad. 
And because cooking  is a creative process,
I took the liberty of frosting  the tops of my Creme Puffs
with Dark Chocolate Frosting, as if they were eclairs. 

My Valentine pronouned them  "mmmmmmm-good"
and helped himself to another!
Which proves that the way to a man's heart
might still be through his stomach!

Creme Puffs

1/2 cup boiling water      1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter                 2 eggs

Pour boiling water over butter in a saucepan; heat just to boiling, and stir until butter melts.  Sift flour, measure and add all at once to the butter mixture.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball.  Remove from the heat.  Immediately add unbeaten eggs one at a time, beating to a smooth paste after each one.  Then beat the mixture until smooth and velvety.  Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet, keeping about 3 inches apart.  Bake in a hot oven (450 F) for 15 minutes, or until well puffed and delicately browned.  Then reduce the heat to 300 F (slow) and bake from 30-40 minutes longer;  this will cook the centers thoroughly, but puffs should become no browner.  Remove to a cake rack to cool.  When cold, cut off tops with a sharp knife.  Fill with Creme Filling.  (6-7 creme puffs)

Creme Filling

1/2 cup sugar                                        1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup flour                                         1 1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt                                            3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk, scalded

Mix sugar, flour and salt in top of a double boiler.  Gradually stir in 3/4 cup of the hot milk, stir until smooth, add the remaining milk and cook over direct heat until thickened, stirring constantly.  Stir a little of the hot mixture into the beatedn egg; return this to the rest of the mixture an place over boilng water, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat, stir in butter and vanilla.  cool.  Fill creme puffs or eclairs.  For best flavor and crispness, serve creme puffs the same day they are baked; if necessary to hold until the next day keep the filling refrigerated and the shells unfilled.  Fill before serving.  (6-7 creme puffs)


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