As a child, my parents would bring us to the state fair. A huge event in my state, we would spend hours touring barns, riding midway rides, climbing the stairs to the big slide, browsing exhibition halls and the 4H building. Of course, there was plenty of eating to be done, too.
My parents each had their own ideas of what the best food at the fair was, and we’d make specific stops at booths along our route for them to share their favorites. Mine were always the cheese curds, but my mom’s favorite food came towards the end of our fair day.
In the far back corner of the fair just past the midway lights and sounds was Heritage Square. A quaint part of the fair made up old fashioned stands filled with woodworking, handmade jewelry and trinkets, and even a used bookstore you could find her treat. A plexiglass cart with a baby blue awning stood at the entrance, and at night the interior would glow. Through the glass you could see them, puffed and golden, dusted with a soft snow of powdered sugar, and filled with clouds of whipped cream.
Always the last on our fair list, we’d bite into the outer crisp shell of the eggy pastries and down into the lightly sweetened cream, powdered sugar raining down as we did. It was and still remains the perfect ending to a long day.
For my mom’s birthday this year we baked up a tray of her favorite food to get at the fair. My kids helped mix the dough on the stovetop, and then we whipped fresh cream by hand. The dusting of the sugar is always everyone’s favorite part, making it snow over the golden brown pastries before setting them on a plate and waiting for her to arrive.
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup milk
- 1 stick unsalted butter (1/4 pound)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
- Preheat your oven to 425º F.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, and butter. Heat over medium-high heat just until the water simmers.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Using a wooden spoon, quickly mix in all the flour, sugar, and the salt. Return to the heat and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
- Allow the dough and pot cool for 5 minutes.
- Once the dough is cool, mix in the eggs one at a time, until the dough is thick and sticky.
- Fill a gallon bag or a pastry bag with the dough. Clip off the tip to make a ½" opening. Pipe 1-2" rounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 425ºF, and then reduce the oven temp to 350ºF and continue baking for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Allow to cool completely.
- When cool, in a medium bowl, mix together cream and confectioners' sugar. Whip until thick with stiff peaks.
- Fill the cream puffs by slicing the pastries in half and piping or spooning whipped cream into the bottom half and then placing the top half on top. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.
- Serve fresh.
What are your favorite childhood desserts?
|Shaina Olmanson is the freelance writer, photographer, and home cook behind Food for My Family. Cooking daily with and for her four kids and husband, Ole, drives her desire to inspire other families to do the same. Shaina is also the author of Desserts in Jars and contributes regularly to a variety of online sites and traditional print magazines.|