Valentine’s Day Tradition: Cream Puffs

Chocolate Filled Cream PuffsI love Valentine’s Day! All the love talk and chocolate, and hearts, and chocolate, and silly little valentine’s and chocolate. Oh by the way? Did I mention the chocolate?

The kids and I have been watching the Food Network’s chocolate specials every evening and I think I’ve gained 5 pounds just looking!

Of course I can’t let this holiday go by without some special desserts for the special Valentine’s in my life! Several years ago I started the tradition of making cream puffs for dessert for our special Valentine’s meal. I fill them with French Vanilla Custard and top them off with a rich chocolate ganache. They are a little more involved (as in more steps and take longer) than most of the recipes I share with you, but not very difficult.

Cream Puffs: Melt 1/2 cup of butter in 1 cup of boiling water. Add 1 cup flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt all at once and stir vigorously. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixtures forms a ball that doesn’t separate. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously after each one.

Drop by heaping tablespoons 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a very hot, 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the cream puffs from the oven and split them open. Turn the oven OFF and put the cream puffs in oven for 20 minutes to dry out. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

French Custard Filling: Mix together 2/3 cup of sugar, 2 Tablespoons flour, 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Gradually stir in 3 cups of milk. Cook and stir until the mixture thickens and boils, cook and stir 2-3 minutes more. Stir a little of the hot mixture into 2 beaten egg yolks, then return to the hot milk, stirring constantly, bringing just to the boil. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Cool completely. Beat smooth with electric mixer. Whip up 1 cup of whipping cream and carefully fold in. (Or you can shortcut and use 8 ounces of Cool Whip)

Chocolate Ganache: Melt in microwave 2/3 cup of whipping cream and 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips. Stir till smooth.

To assemble: Open the cream puff and fill with French Vanilla Custard. Lay the top on carefully and drizzle (or dump, pour, drown) it with the chocolate ganache. Serve with a kiss and a smile and the Valentine in your life will thank you!

All of the components (cream puffs, French vanilla cream and the ganache) can be made ahead , then assembled the day you wish to serve them. I have on occasion used a box pudding mix instead of the custard. (I highly recommend the Jello White Chocolate Pudding!). I just mixed according to the recipe and then folded in Cool Whip.

Enjoy a delightful and chocolate-filled Valentine’s Day!