Friday, October 18, 2013

The Big E Cream Puff

If you’re wondering what a Cream Puff is, there’s a good chance you’re not from around here.

The Big E Cream Puff is an irresistible sweet pastry shell stuffed with a creamy filling. It has been the Fair’s signature dessert since its debut in 2002. Even after 11 years, the tasty treat is as popular as ever with approximately 50,000 sold over the 17-day extravaganza.

The Cream Puff is so perfect that the recipe has not changed once since its first appearance at The Big E. Every batch is measured perfectly to guarantee that each one tastes exactly the same.

During the Fair, the cream and thousands of shells are prepared daily for the oversized desserts. This past year, 2,244 gallons of heavy cream and 34,920 eggs were used in the production. Due to the massive demand for the desserts, preparation work for the Fair begins close to a month beforehand.

All of this work is done in the state-of-the-art Cream Puff Bakery run by Ray and Dolores Billie, founders of Billie’s Baked Potatoes. The Bakery, located inside the New England Center, is enclosed by large glass panels so fairgoers can watch the production process as they wait for their treat. The Bakery is also equipped with a takeout window for early morning and late night customers.

In case fairgoers have an emergency Cream Puff craving and can’t make it to the Bakery; there is a more centralized shop open in the Food Court. Clearly, the Billie’s have a booming business.

Recipe for Cream Puff Craving

With all that talk about Cream Puffs, why not make some yourself? While we don’t even know the secret recipe for The Big E Cream Puff, here’s a tasty alternative to hold you over until next year!

1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1 egg yolk

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additional confectioners' sugar for topping

Dough: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large pot, bring milk and butter to a boil. Add salt and flour all at once. Stir the mixture until it forms a ball. Remove from the heat let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Scoop ¼ cup size balls from the dough and place them on a baking sheet 3 inches apart. Combine the milk and egg yolk and brush over the dough. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Immediately cut a slit in each for steam to escape. When the shells are cool, split the pastry in half and hollow out the shells.

Filling: In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until thick. Fill the cream puffs just before serving. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Refrigerate leftovers. 
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