I know this sounds terribly fattening, but I promise you, it isn't and not only because these are "bites"! It's been quite some time since I made cream puffs and I almost guarantee that after my daughter in law Kristina sees these she will want me to make the mini puffs for her when they visit after Christmas! I'm pretty certain she will want a different filling, but I know she loves mini cream puffs as she requested them as part of her bridal shower brunch we had for her!
These little puffs are just the most perfect little dessert bite to offer at your holiday gathering, be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years! The slightly sweet tiny bite of cream puff with the Chocolate Irish Cream Pudding drizzled with a homemade Irish Cream Caramel Sauce (recipe to come at a later time), just the perfect end to an evening. I'm quite certain this would be just as yummy with a vanilla custard pudding in place of the chocolate. The shells themselves are slightly sweet and the dough was so easy to make! The recipe comes from my Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook (see, I told you it wasn't going to be bad for you!). I never have seen this method for making cream puff dough before but I promise you it is so easy that you will have no trouble doing it, not to mention it takes much less time so, make a batch of these little yummy puffs up and serve them up with your favorite fillings - savory or sweet! I can see these with a shrimp, crab, or chicken salad filling in place of the pudding. Perfect bites for the holidays that will not pack on the pounds!
Following the cream puff recipe is the pudding recipe....and feel free to serve the pudding in the little tasting parfaits (make sure to use the cute little tasting spoons too!).
Cream Puff Shells
1 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine water, 3 tablespoons butter, 2 teaspoons sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Bring to boil, remove from heat. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add flour to water mixture, stirring well until smooth and mixture pulls away from sides of pan. Return pan to heat and cook 30 seconds more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating with a hand mixer at medium speed just until combined. This is the easy part - the hand mixer makes all the difference, so much less effort! Once all the eggs have been mixed in beat 1 minute more at medium speed.
Drop dough into mounds using a small cookie scoop placing about 2 inches apart, on prepared baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes (place cookie sheet on lowest rack in oven to prevent over browning of tops). Turn heat down to 350 and bake an additional 20 minutes. Turn oven off; partially open oven door. Pierce each puff with a knife; cool puffs in oven 20 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely on a wire rack.
Chocolate & Irish Cream Pudding
1-½ cups almond milk (you can use low-fat cow's milk - I just always use almond)
¼ cup Hershey's Cocoa Powder
⅔ cups granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons butter
¼ cup Bailey's Irish Cream
Whisk egg in a small bowl and set aside. In medium sized heavy bottomed saucepan, mix milk, cocoa, sugar, and cornstarch together. Add milk and whisk to combine. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until pudding thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and pour one ladle of hot mixture into bowl with whisked egg, whisking constantly while pouring hot pudding into the egg. Return the egg mixture into the pudding mixture and blend well. Return to heat and cook until pudding just comes to a boil again. Remove from heat. Add butter and Irish Cream. Transfer pudding to another bowl and lay plastic wrap over top of the pudding to prevent skin from forming. Once cooled, use in cream puffs or serve in miniature parfait glasses. Serve any remaining pudding in refrigerator with plastic wrap covering top of pudding.