Most days I take comfort in being in the kitchen. Doing my little kitchen dance either alone or with my little one by my side. But lately I’ve really been drawn to the kitchen. And not so much to eat what I’ve cooked, but for a little homegrown therapy. It calms my nerves, quiets the chatter, and offers me ideal time to gather my thoughts, set game plans, pray. It’s also prime time to set aside worries and daydream. In any case, being in the kitchen is a good thing…
I slept in the other day and did my best zombie impression, stumbling to the kitchen. No one was in a rush for breakfast (thank heavens) so I decided to bake this Danish Puff. Let the cooking therapy begin. I had a positively heavenly puff in Copenhagen a few years ago. Nothing over-the-top, just delicate layers of yumminess with a simple frosting. For some reason I thought they’d be a pain to make, but as I looked at recipes (which are all very similar) I’m pleased to discover it requires little skill and few ingredients. Try it!
You can top them as you like, but since it isn’t a sweet dough (topped with a pâte à choux) you’ll want to give it a light (or heavy 🙂 ) frosting. Next time I plan to try a couple different glazes/toppings. The recipe I used seems popular and many folks claim it as their own or an old family recipe, but I have to give credit here to Betty Crocker as I first saw it in Betty Crocker Country Cooking which I picked up a few years ago. I haven’t used one of my BC cookbooks in a while, but I find they’re an especially helpful tool for new cooks. I used them often when I lived on my own and then as a newlywed, practicing basic techniques, setting a nice foundation for confidence in the kitchen. I hope you enjoy this delectable treat. Breakfast or dessert? You decide.
(adapted from Betty Crocker Country Cooking)
For the base dough:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup flour
- 2 Tbsp. water
For the pâte à choux layer:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup flour
- 1 and 1/4 tsp. almond extract
- 3 eggs
- 1 and 1/4 cups powdered sugar (you can use more, but I generally like my glazes with less than is usually called for)
- 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 1 and 3/4 tsp. vanilla (I use a lot of vanilla since we love the flavor–certainly reduce amount to suit you)
- 2 Tbsp. warm water
- sliced almonds, optional (I toast the almonds in a dry skillet for a couple of minutes)
Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, place 1 cup of flour and cut in 1/2 cup butter with a fork or pastry blender until butter pieces are the size of peas. Add 2 Tbsp. water and mix with a fork. Form mixture into a ball and cut in half. Place the halves on an ungreased cookie sheet and form them into rectangles about 12 x 3 inches. They don’t need to be perfect, but should be fairly thin.
In a saucepan, bring 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup water to a boil. Take off the heat and stir in 1 cup flour and almond extract. Return to low heat and stir until constantly until it forms a ball. Remove from heat. Add eggs to the mixture one at a time, stirring quickly (to be sure not to cook the eggs) until smooth. Spread half of the pâte à choux over each rectangle. Bake the puffs for about one hour–topping will be lightly browned and crisp. Let cool. Then top with glaze and almonds.
For glaze: Mix all glaze ingredients except for almonds in a bowl. If need be, warm in microwave for a few seconds to get a smooth consistency.