You might recall that my last post was a "Lightened Up Summer Supper."  You must think I've lost it following up with this Cream Puffs post.  Sorry.  This was actually a dessert I made at my Mom's house during the feasting, so it's decadence was more appropriate at the time than it's timing here.  And let's face it... no one wants to read about a healthy dinner, right?  Not two posts in a row, at least.
Here we go...

When we were little, my sister and I lived for Potlucks at Church.

That might be an overstatement.  However, it did make getting up for Church a lot more exciting knowing that after the service a buffet of casseroles, homemade rolls, molded jello 'specialties' and a spread of cakes and pies awaited us in the basement (yes, the same basement in which we hosted Emma's Baptism Brunch).  Nothing like sweets and carbs to motivate youngsters.  And oldsters, for that matter.  (The 'youngsters' is a shoutout to our childhood Pastor that always referred to kids as 'youngsters.'  The 'oldsters' was just my endless creativity at work.)

One Potluck dessert that was particularly coveted was Mrs. Schluetter's* Homemade Cream Puffs.  *Her name has been changed for her protection, and because I can't remember it.  They were light, free-form puffs, filled with custard and dusted with powdered sugar.  And there were only about a dozen of them.  An early lesson of supply and demand.

Jill and I probably helped ourselves to seconds even before hitting the line of various Baked Mac and Cheeses and Green Bean Casseroles.  Yes, I realize that that was rude and inconsiderate of us to all of the other patrons, but only so many lessons can be learned from a Cream Puff.  And the lesson we elected was "Get while the Gettin' is Good."  (My parents are shuttering right now...)

Here is my version of these beloved Cream Puffs.  I topped them with Chocolate Sauce, but almost wish I would've dusted them with powdered sugar to have been able to really enjoy the delicate puff and homemade custard.  That Mrs. Schluetter knew what she was doing.  You can pick your poison.

Homemade Cream Puffs
with Vanilla Custard

Pâte à Choux (Puff Pastry):

1 stick of butter, cut into pieces
1 cup of water
1½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bring water, butter, sugar, salt and vanilla to a boil.

Remove pan from heat and add flour, stirring with wooden spoon until dough separates from sides of pan.   Add 1 egg at a time, stirring until dough smooths out.

On a silpat lined (or parchment or sprayed) baking sheet, make 12 dollops. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, then 20 minutes at 300 degrees.  Remove from oven and let puffs cool. 

Vanilla Custard :

2 cups heavy cream
½ cup sugar
Pinch salt
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons of cornstarch
4 tablespoons of cold butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste or extract

To make the pastry cream, heat cream, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.  Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk until the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds.  Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.

When the cream mixture has reached a simmer, slowly add it to the egg mixture while whisking constantly.  Return the mixture to the saucepan.  Return the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture has thickened, approx. 30 seconds.  Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla.  Place in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill before filling puffs, unless you'd like to serve them warm... which is fabulous.