Today is National Cream Puff Day. This dessert was introduced to the U.S. in 1880, but dates clear back to the 1540s, where it originated in Europe. It was created for royalty: King Henry II of France’s pastry chef is said to have whipped up the first profiterole (fancy word for cream puff) at the insistence of his wife, Catherine de Medici. Henry largely ignored Catherine in favor of his mistress, so perhaps the pastry was a literal “sweet” gesture to win him over.
Or maybe fatten him up.
Either way, France in the 16th century wasn’t a very happy place, thanks to near-constant war and poverty. A sweet treat like the cream puff could maybe, for a moment at least, make the French forget about their woes.
It made Tara and I forget about ours today. There are few desserts more decadent, in my opinion. Cream puffs are light, flaky, and filled with a delicious cream center. To achieve this consistency, flour and salt are added to a mixture of boiled water and butter, baked at high heat for 20-25 minutes, then cut in half in order to prevent them from deflating. No matter how you slice ’em (pun intended), they are good!
We didn’t make ours, though. Instead, Larson’s Bakery on Mill Plain came to the rescue. I walked in, scoured the display case, and found a pair of Bavarian Cream Puffs on the end, calling my name. I managed to snag the last two left.
“Did you know today is National Cream Puff Day?” I asked the cashier.
“It’s funny you should mention that,” she replied. “One of the managers told me the other day, and I meant to make extras, but I completely forgot about it.”
No harm, no foul. I brought them home, and Tara and I scarfed them down as a pre-dinner appetizer. Upstairs in the bedroom, even. Who says you have to save dessert for dessert? They looked too good to resist, and they were mighty tasty. Bavarian cream puffs have a chocolate topping and a Bavarian cream filling, and are pretty similar to an eclair. Think of them as cream puffs kicked up a notch. Tara isn’t even real keen on cream puffs, but she declared these to be very good. (There is a National Eclair Day, by the way. June 22nd).
Two days in, and this project is beginning to feel fun. Maybe by the time summer rolls around we’ll feel otherwise, but right now, we’re enjoying it! Check out the new Calendar page for a daily list of our upcoming food challenges. Tomorrow it’s chocolate covered cherries. Pretty easy so far!
- National cream puff day (eatocracy.cnn.com)
- Choux à la Crème (Cream Puffs / Profiteroles) (foodiebaker.com)
I make cream puffs at least once each year for my husband’s birthday. If you ever want to try making them yourselves, use this recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/cream-puffs-or-eclairs-with-vanilla-pastry-cream-203416