I woke up today knowing that this would be an easy one and I was grateful for that. I had the option to make my own cream puffs and I found some easy looking recipes for them, but I just didn’t want to. I knew that if I strolled down the frozen aisle of the supermarket, I would find a tub of perfectly made cream puffs just waiting for me in the dessert and pastry section. I’ve seen them there and I have even purchased them before. That solution would work for me, at least today.
A cream puff is a filled French pastry ball with a typically sweet and moist filling of whipped cream, custard, pastry cream, or even ice cream. They are also called profiteroles and if Lola is reading this, she will now be able to shout out, “I Told You So!” She asked me earlier if a cream puff is a profiterole and I told her that they are similar but a profiterole is filled with ice cream while a cream puff is filled with whipped cream. I was wrong and apparently the terms are interchangeable although cream puff is more of an American term. They were created at some point in the 17th century and have been enjoyed ever since. Some more random cream puff trivia from Wikipedia: the term “cream puff”can refer to a used car which the salesperson argues is in mint condition and which has been lovingly maintained over the years. It is a synonym with the colloquial term “cherry” (as used in a used car sales context), and an antonym of the term “lemon”, a slang term for a used car that has hard-to-detect and expensive mechanical problems. So if you are in that new car market, look for the profiterole.
On one of our jaunts to New York City, we were taking a walk in the West Village in the area near where Lola used to work. That area is kind of a foodie heaven most notably with Murray’s Cheese Shop, Amy’s Bread Bakery and of course Joe’s Pizza, Lola’s favorite spot to walk in and have a slice. When we were walking to Joe’s to appease Lola’s pizza hankering, we noticed that there was a Cream Puff restaurant next door and this intrigued me. You could walk in, order your cream puffs, and they would fill them to order with a giant cream machine that they would shoot into your puff (that sounds oddly erotic). I don’t think I had ever seen such a restaurant or service. It was pretty good too and the fresh cream was remarkable. However, like many concepts in NYC, the Cream Puff restaurant never made it and the last time we were in the area, they were closed replaced by some other new concept. So much for cream puff franchises popping up at the mall next to Orange Julius.
I knew exactly where the cream puffs were in Clements (down the frozen aisle, at the end on the right near the frozen cakes and pies). I went right there and picked up the tub. The brand of the cream puffs was Delizza Patisserie. I feel like every cream puff I have ever purchased in the supermarket comes form them, although I am not sure. They could be the leaders in supermarket cream puffs, or they could just be the ones Clements features. Either way, I knew it was a good product. Cream puffs always seem to come in large plastic tubs which I guess helps them not crush into each other inside the packaging. The pastry is a bit brittle, so it probably needs room. In any case, it’s the kind of container my Mom would never throw away. It would turn into a storage bin for Legos or a sewing kit. It would be too useful to ever get rid of. I kind of miss that feeling of cherishing certain packaging. Tupperware is so common today that you take for granted the usefulness of good plastic containers. I miss the times where you would buy a tin of Sucrets not just for your sore throat, but as a long-term solution for keeping small treasures. We need to appreciate the packaging more – that’s old school recycling.
The cream puffs come frozen and you need to let them thaw a little. You don’t have to, but if you eat them frozen the cream inside tastes more like ice cream. I know this because I popped open the tub as soon as I got home and had one. Also, the pastry has to come to a softer temperature too. When it’s frozen, it’s not as flaky and as soft as you would want it. But eating one frozen isn’t the worst thing you will ever eat. After dinner, I served up some more cream puffs (after they had thawed). To fancy them up, I squirted some chocolate sauce on top just to add some more flavor. They really are better when they are room temperature. The pastry is nice and fluffy with the perfect amount of flakiness that you would expect from a pastry. The cream is cool and creamy and melts over every bite. That’s the joy of a cream puff – the mix of the cream with the soft crunch of the pastry. It’s a little party in every bite. The chocolate sauce added a nice sweet dimension to the party too and was a good little addition, not detracting from the integrity of the puff in any way.
The problem with cream puffs is they are bite size, so you can really pop one in your mouth whole. That gets troublesome when you keep going back for more. It seems there is always room for one more cream puff. I did manage to control myself however and just enjoyed the bounty I had before me.
Another day celebrated. Maybe some day I will make my own cream puff (the recipe didn’t look too complicated), but for today, it was too much energy when I knew there was a perfectly acceptable solution waiting for me. That’s a good lesson as we march into the New Year – don’t work too hard. Sometimes the answer is right in front of us and if we are lucky, it will have a delightful creamy center too. Cheers.
Next Up: National Chocolate Covered Cherries Day