Editor's Note: We admit it, we're a bit addicted to chocolate around Serious Eats: Sweets. So we asked new contributor (and former bakery owner) Yvonne Ruperti to share a favorite chocolate-filled recipe with us each week. Take it away, Yvonne!
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As a kid, I spent much of my summer vacation on Long Island, at my great grandma Ruth's house. Grandma was a domestic queen. Dinner was planned, prepped, and on the stove by noon, and then she'd set about concocting something sweet. My favorite days were when she decided it was time to make a plate of cream puffs. I remember looking on as she stood in her floral print housedress next to her 1940's stove, stirring up a thick paste of butter, flour, and water. After it was dropped by sticky spoonfuls onto the pan, it would magically transform in the oven into crisp and airy puffs.
After they cooled, she'd deftly slice the tops off of the shells and dollop a creamy chocolate pudding into the hollow center. Sometimes the pudding was from scratch, but more often than not, it was MyTFine pudding in a box to the rescue.
You see, while Grandma was willing to bake the puffs from scratch, she wasn't willing to miss her soaps ("stories" as she'd like to call them). If she was running late in the kitchen, she was happy to take the shortcut.
As someone who'll stop the planet on its axis for "True Blood", I can respect that. Anyway, I never gave a hoot if it was a pudding mix or not, because as long as it was chocolate, it was mighty fine with me. And frankly, though I was impressed with the pate a choux alchemy in the oven, the plain flavored shell was just in the way as I ate my way to what I was really after: the chocolate jackpot in the center. When my entire mouth finally became enveloped in the voluptuous pudding, I was in creamy chocolate bliss.
To make a chocolate cream puff good enough to quell an adult sized chocolate craving, I knew I had to take the chocolate element in multiple directions. First, a homemade bittersweet chocolate pastry cream made with good quality chocolate is luscious, decadent, and travels from the stove to fridge in minutes.
To encapsulate the velvety chocolate cream, it could be none other than a chocolate puff. A few tablespoons of cocoa added to the choux paste in place of a bit of the flour adds a deep cocoa flavor with a touch of bitterness that perfectly balances the chocolate cream. I also keep the method as simple as Grandma's. Instead of dragging out a heavy mixer, the choux paste is whisked right on the stove. Finally, a swath of gooey chocolate ganache over the crown of each puff completes the triple chocolate whammy.
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About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore and is currently at work constructing her new blog, "ShopHouseCook".