I've been cooking up a Cream Puff Christmas Tree regularly for almost 50 years now, and it always receives the same enthusiastic reaction from friends and family.
- 1-1/4 cups water
- 2/3 cup butter
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 eggs
- 2-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon rum extract, optional
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup half-and-half cream
- Green liquid or paste food coloring, optional
- Red candied cherries, optional
- Additional confectioners' sugar, optional
- In a large saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil over medium heat. Add flour and salt; stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. continue beating until mixture is smooth and shiny.
- Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2-in. apart onto greased baking sheets. (You will need about 62 puffs to make the tree.) Use a moistened finger to smooth any peaks.
- Bake at 400° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
- For filling, in a large bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar and rum extract if desired until stiff peaks form.
- Insert round tip #7 into a pastry or resealable plastic bag; fill with the whipped cream. With a sharp knife, cut a small slit in the side of each puff. Insert pastry tip into slits; fill each puff with whipped cream. Refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
- For icing, combine confectioners' sugar and enough cream to achieve desired consistency. Stir in food coloring if desired.
- To assemble tree: Separate puffs according to size and shape, choosing the flattest ones for the bottom layer and the smallest ones for the top. Spread the bottom of 18 puffs with icing. Place on the serving platter, forming a 9-in.-diameter solid circle.
- For the second layer, spread icing on the bottoms of 18 puffs, then position above the space of the base layer of puffs.
- Continue building tree in this manner using about 14 puffs in third layer, about seven puffs in fourth layer, about four puffs in fifth layer and one puff on top.
- To decorate: Insert round tip #7 into a pastry or resealable plastic bag and fill with remaining icing. Drizzle over tree. Trim with cherries if desired.
- The completed tree may be loosely covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 hours. Just before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar if desired. Yield: 30 servings.
Originally published as Cream Puff Christmas Tree in Country Woman Christmas Annual 2000, p48
Sweet White Wine
Enjoy this recipe with a sweet white wine such as Moscato or a sweet Riesling.
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