[Photograph: Stephanie Stiavetti]

Have you had your fill of Christmas cookies yet? Neither have I. But, I'm beginning to long for something a little different, something not so....cookie-like. Something I can dive into face-first, sating my sweets cravings in one huge dish instead of little by little. Cookies are a great sugar-delivery device, but their generally diminutive nature makes it hard to get your fill quickly and efficiently.

Enter the monster cream puff. Not necessarily a holiday staple, cream puffs go sadly unnoticed this time of year. It's a shame, really, because cream puffs can be just as festive as any sparkle-flecked, snowflake-shaped, frosting-painted sugar cookie. And they're easier to make than you might think.

The pastry part of a cream puff is simply a heated dough, which you can make in under ten minutes. The pastry cream? Well, depending on the recipe you use, that can be equally as simple; the version in this cream puff recipe is as easy as they come. A touch of mint extract and a smattering of crushed candy cane bits make these classic pastries perfect for the holiday season. Set artfully on a tray at your Christmas party, guest will think you spent all day in the kitchen. And you did, right? Right?

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Candy Cane Cream Puffs »

About the author: Stephanie Stiavetti is a writer and cookbook author in San Francisco. Stephanie's cookbook, Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, celebrates America's favorite dish by recreating it with small production, specialty cheeses. Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts.


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