In other recipes I have seen, and tried, butter was added at the end for a rich and smooth texture. The English custard is like this, where it utilizes the flour in the mix and the butter at the end. I have favored my English recipe the most for this end addition. But when I saw that it did not call for the butter, I decided to add it anyway, and I'm glad I did.
I also noted in the previous post that I used vanilla beans because I was out of vanilla extract. I tend to be a bit lazy with four kids underfoot, one having special needs, and most often when baking look for the easy way out and opt for an extract. A good extract though.. my favorite vanilla extracts are Bourbon Vanilla and Madagascar Vanilla. If you read through some of my recipes, you'll notice I often bake with liqueurs and fortified wines, so great to have on hand for intensifying flavors! Some other techniques I think are important to note is sifting the flour. You can push the flour through a fine mesh sieve if you don't have a sifter. If you don't have either, just rub it well between your fingertips to get out all lumps. I also encourage a slow-cook-to-boil rather than a quick-cook-to-boil. You really want the flour to cook out so there is no grittiness. The same as if you were cooking a Béchamel Sauce.
So have fun, enjoy, and Buon Appetito!
I also happened to make some chocolate filling. This was nothing to write home about though, I didn't plan on using the filling for the puffs, I just happen to have made some homemade chocolate pudding from a recipe on the cocoa powder can. It was a little to much cocoa flavored for me.. next time I'm going to use Pierre Herme’s chocolate custard recipe.. that I'm sure will be something to write about! :)
Crema di Pasticceria
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean split lengthwise (not vanilla extract)
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. granulated white sugar
1 Tablespoons butter
In a saucepan on medium heat, combine the milk and the split vanilla bean; cook till it begins to simmer. Watch carefully so your milk doesn’t scald or you will have a skin on top. If you do notice a skin forming, remove it before you are ready to add it to your egg mixture. Turn heat off.
Meanwhile, in a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, beat eggs and sugar together until creamy pale yellow. You can also do this in a medium size stainless steel bowl with a wire whisk, but beat hard and consistently. (This is how I start my Zabaione when making an Italian custard) Next add the flour and beat hard till well incorporated and it has the texture of a thick paste.
Slowly pour hot milk into egg mixture in a very thin stream whisking constantly to prevent curdling. When incorporated, remove vanilla bean. Scrape the seeds from the pod and stir them into the custard mix. Return custard to pan you heated the milk in and place on medium heat till mixture begins to thicken and come to a soft boil. Stir constantly and mix from bottom of pan to prevent custard from scalding. When it begins to come to a slow boil time it for another minute or so.. custard will be a medium consistency. Turn off heat.
Add the 1 tablespoons of butter and mix well. Scrape the custard into a bowl. Smoothe plastic wrap directly on top of the custard. The first time I read this in directions I was kind of disconcerted thinking I would waste much of the top layer of custard when I pulled it from the top. When refrigerated and cooled, the plastic comes off clean from the top of the custard. No waste! ☺
Choux Pastry Puffs
1/2-cup butter (no substitutes)
1-cup all-purpose flour
In a saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour and salt all at once; stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until mixture is smooth and shiny.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove puffs to wire racks. Immediately cut a slit in each for steam to escape. Cool. Split puffs and remove soft dough.