National Cream Puff Day

cream puffsWe make cream puffs on National Cream Puff Day, St. Joseph’s Day (March 19) or anytime we want a special dessert!
Choux a la creme, profiteroles and cream puffs are said to have originated in Renaissance France and Italy. Choux paste is different from other types of pastry because when cooked, it rises and the finished product has a hollow center. As was the custom of the day, these holes were variously filled with sweet or savory fillings. Cream puffs, as we know them today, are usually filled with custard or French cCremes. Chocolate (as a glaze or filling) was an 18th century addition.
“Choux pastry is a thick batter made from flour, milk, butter, and eggs. Its most typical application is in the making of small round buns (as used for profiteroles) known in French as choux, literally cabbages, from their shape–hence pate a choux, the pastry used for making them. The first reference to the term in English comes in the 1706 edition of Edward Phillips’s New World of English Words: Petits Choux, a sort of paste for garnishing, made of fat Cheese, Flour, Eggs, Salt, etc., bak’d in a Pye-pan, and Ic’d over with fine Sugar.’ But it was not really until the late nineteenth century that it achieved any sort of general currencey in English.”
—An A-Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 75)
“From the sixteenth century onwards convents made biscuits and fritters to be sold in the aid of good works…Missionary nuns took their talents as pastrycooks to the French colonies. The nuns of Lima had a great reputation after the sixteenth century, and chocolate owes a great deal to the convents. The puff pastries called feuillantines were first made in the seventeenth century in a convent of that name…Sugar and chocolate had now arrived on the scene; from the time of Louis XIV onwards those delicacies became extremely popular…Gastronomy flourished in the nineteenth century…Fauvel, a chef working for the famous pastry cook Chiboust, invented the Genoese sponge and also had a hand in the creation of the gateau Saint-Honore, so called in honour of the patron saint of pastrycooks. It is garnished with choux pastry puffs, and choux pastry is also used in making eclairs and choux a la creme, and a kind of chocolate eclair known as the religieuse (nun), though no one knows why.”
—History of Food, Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat [Barnes & Noble:New York] 1992 (pages 243-244)

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