Sunday, October 12, 2008

Breaking for cream puffs

Remember when there were lines out the door to get a Beard Papa Cream Puff?

Four years later and as many outposts, the craze has been eclipsed by other sweet imports like Grom. But when my friend Tanya wrote from San Francisco, “We’re eating our first Beard Papa cream puff,” I knew it was time to pay it another visit.

It’s not like Beard Papas are now barren. Locals come in to buy them by the dozen, and tourists stand around, pondering whether to get the classic vanilla cream puff, or to go with the daily flavor, like chocolate or strawberry. All in all, it’s a Willy Wonka-ish experience, in a wacky Japanese sort of way. Great fun.

The airy puffs are baked in small batches.

The creamy custard is pumped inside each puff using these steel contraptions that look like coffee urns with protruding pistols.

And then they’re dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

The result? The puff is really light—barely there—and yet crunchy.

The cream is ridiculously generous. Nice and egg-y with flecks of vanilla.

Now that ice cream season is largely over, it’s time to start adding on the winter layer of fat, cream puff by cream puff.

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