My sister asked if I’d make cupcakes for the shower. She wanted black bottom cupcakes (so called because they are chocolate on the bottom with a cream cheese-chocolate chip mixture on the inside) and another kind for those who (gasp!) don’t like chocolate.
Our family is known for liking the custard-filled puffs like mom used to make but are rare to find. A few years ago I got a press release from an egg company that included recipes for choux pastry, eclairs, souffle beignets and gougere. (I took Spanish so don’t ask me what that all means.) I kept the recipe because it was the only one I’ve ever seen that had the custard filling recipe included.
Last Monday, while we were all at our youngest niece’s soccer game, my sister and sister-in-law were talking about the menu. They couldn’t find a place that made puffs for them to have chicken salad sandwiches.
“I’m making puffs for the cream puffs, so I can just make extra,” I volunteered.
They were surprised. “Can you do that?” “Will you do that? We’ll get you the flour, the eggs, whatever you need.”
I wondered if I was being set up. “If Madolin will volunteer to make the puffs for the sandwiches, we’ll be good” they probably said.
It took a whole evening to make just the puffs — standing in front of the stove, stirring to make sure there were no lumps, it’s not burned, it’s not undercooked or overcooked.
Two dozen eggs and many cups of flour later I had a table full of puffs as well as a table full of cupcakes.
The custard was another evening. It required constant stirring for 25 minutes. I had a book on the counter beside the stove this time. I must have read three chapters while waiting for the concoction to thicken.
Friday night instead of attending the football game, my other sister suggested she help me decorate the cupcakes. It was her first time using cake decorating equipment, so she was excited. We marveled at some unique designs and had a good time decorating until it came time to clean up. Conveniently she had to go pick up her daughters from the game, so I was stuck doing clean up solo.
Saturday morning I separated the puffs — ones that looked good and would work well cut in half for chicken salad and goofy-looking ones that I could use for the cream puffs because I’d cover their oddness with melted chocolate drizzled on top. It took at least an hour to fill and cover the cream puffs.
Then I packed up the puffs, cupcakes and cream puffs in every Tupperware container and foil roaster I own and don’t own to take to the party.
I rammed a cream puff into my brother’s mouth to taste test on his way out the door as the henfest began. Then my sister-in-law snuck him three chicken salad puffs while he painted a neighbor’s porch across the street. After the party he loaded his plate up with six more.
“You should go into business making puffs,” he said.
(Madolin Edwards is the community news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)