Well the snow is back again. Woke up to a few inches already on the ground this morning and more coming down just as fast as it could manage. The sun has been out some this afternoon so some of the snow has started to melt, but there is still plenty on the ground. So with the colder temp outside came the desire for one of my favorite winter dinners: Pinto Beans and Ham hocks. This is a dish that my mom would spend all day cooking in the winter and the house would smell so good by the end that you just could not wait to eat. While my mom would take the long road to the end dish, I'm all about making good food: quick food. So in that case I use canned pinto beans, normally what I have canned in the fall but if not store bought ones work also. I have also traded out the ham hocks for ham steak, so that the whole thing can be cooked in about an hour from start to finish instead of having to start the night before soaking the beans and cooking all the next day.
So once the ham and beans were on and doing their thing I got to thinking what else to fix for dinner: dessert. And for dessert tonight Cream Puffs. I love these little golden gems of goodness and the fact that they take almost no work is even better. They may look all fancy and hard to make but with a few ingredients that most all of us keep on hand you can whip up a great dessert in about 40 minutes (this includes the 30 minutes they cook).
Cream Puffs makes 12 puffs
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 box instant vanilla pudding (8 servings size)
1) In a sauce pan add the water and butter and heat until the butter is melted and the water is boiling. As soon as the water is boiling add all the flour and stir until it is mixed well and forms into a ball. Turn off the heat and remove pan and let the dough cool for 10 minutes.
2) Add eggs, 1 at a time making sure to mix in the egg completely before adding the next egg. Don't worry about over mixing this dough as it is important to make sure the eggs are stirred in before adding the next.
Spray a cookie sheet and drop 12 large tablespoons of dough on it and bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until the tops are just golden brown.
3) Once the puffs are cooked, cool them on a wire rack. If you are making these ahead of time you can store them in a plastic bag in the fridge for a few days at this stage. When you are ready to serve them cut the top off the puff and remove the soft dough from inside (this forms the hollow shell to fill). Make the pudding according to box directions for pudding and fill each puff with the pudding, place top back on the puff. You can then top each with melted chocolate, shifted powder sugar, warmed chocolate frosting or your favorite topping.
So while the end result may look hard to achieve, no one needs to know that it really is not all that hard!
Hope you enjoy!