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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

In honor of State Fair, try a cream puff recipe!

Just for fun!, Good food / recipes, Living well on less $

Cream puffs usually top the list of must have food treats at the State Fair. In case you didn't get your fill, why not make your own? They are not  difficult to make, plus you can make them yourself for a fracton of the State Fair price

Cream puffs use the same pate a choux dough as éclairs, just the shape and filling is different. In fact, the shells can  be used for savory dishes like creamy chicken stew or some sort of creamed seafood dish too.Whatever filling you choose, the dough is made from very basic ingredients.

My recipe came from Brietta Graeme (sp?), Breta Griem, a cook I used to watch on TV when I was a child. She was my 1950s version of Martha Stewart**. I have made this dessert many times, ever since my early teen years, and my only failure occurred when I used a Teflon pan instead of a stainless steel saucepan, so make sure you don't use nonstick.

The recipe: Yield: about 8-10 large cream puffs / éclairs or about 18-22 smaller sized ones. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat to boiling in a 2 or 3qt. sauce pan - NOT TEFLON: 1 Cup water and 1/2 Cup butter

Stir in all at once 1 Cup all purpose, unbleached flour

Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, in one direction, until mixture leaves the pan sides and forms into a ball--about 1 minute. (At this point you might wonder what in the world are you making!)

Cool about 10 minutes in the pan.

Beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, stirring in the same direction. Stir each one until smooth before adding the next. When all 4 eggs have been added, beat by hand until smooth and velvety.

Squeeze through a pastry bag onto greased aluminum cookie sheets into smooth mounds. Cream puffs/éclairs puff up quite a bit so leave about 3 inches between. Whatever shape you make, oval or round, try to make your shapes tall. Flat ones don't work as well. If you don't have a pastry bag, you can just spoon onto the cookie sheet.

Put into a preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 350 for 30-35 minutes. Times are for large size.

Open the oven door and poke a hole in each with a skewer or tooth pick. Leave in oven to cool with door open.

Carefully cut off top 1/3 with a sharp knife and gently pull out  and discard any moist center membrane. Fill with freshly whipped cream* for cream puffs. Put top back on. Dust with powdered sugar.

For éclairs, fill with vanilla custard. Cooked Jello brand pudding and pie filling works fine for éclairs. Spoon in the filling then put the tops on and frost with 1 bag chocolate chips melted with around 1/2 cup cream or half and half . Stir well and cool before frosting the eclair.  Or use your favorite chocolate frosting recipe.

Variations: Cream puffs: layer sliced strawberries or fresh pineapple slices with the whipped cream.

Éclairs: Add banana slices or coconut to the pudding before putting the top on. Then frost.

You can make the shells ahead of time and fill shortly before serving.

Hope you give these a try. Everyone will think you are quite wonderful if you do!

*I prefer to use non ultra pasteurized whipping cream. Sendik's in Elm Grove has this. It has a fresher flavor than the ultra pasteurized type. Be sure to chill the bowl and beaters well before whipping or you might make butter instead. I add about 1-2 teaspoons vanilla and around 1/2-1 cup powdered sugar  (to taste) per pint whipping cream. Add this once the cream starts whipping and forms soft peaks, toward the end of the whipping procedure. Be careful not to over whip!

**When I wrote the original posting, I did not have easy internet access. After writing the original posting, I Googled Breta and found the article linked to above. Interestingly, Daniell also thought of Breta as I did: "Breta was kind of the Martha Stewart of Milwaukee."

Thank you Cindy and Santa's Elf for the correct pastry name and spelling for Breta!

Links: 

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Brookfield7, Fairly Conservative, BetterBrookfield, Vicki McKenna, Jay Weber, The Right View Wisconsin, Randy Melchert, Mark Levin, The Heritage Foundation, CNS News

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