Straight out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Cream puffs have been a favorite since I was a teen. They are elegant and sophisticated and yet not finicky in the slightest to make. Which makes them pretty much perfect in my book.
1 c. water
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. all purpose flour
In a medium sized saucepan bring the water, butter, salt, and nutmeg to a gentle simmer. Once the butter is all melted simmer another 30 seconds and remove from the heat.
Dump in all of the flour at once and stir like crazy. Stir until it starts to form a smooth paste and return the pan to the heat. Keep stirring the dough, it should be a smooth ball now. Keep cooking and stirring until the dough leaves a film on the bottom of the pan.
Remove from the heat and immediately beat in one egg. Once it is full incorporated beat in the next egg. Continue like that, beating them in one at a time, until all four or completely mixed in.
At this point what you just made is called choux paste. Place the choux paste in a pastry bag. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
With choux paste it all has to be one shape or it separates as it bakes. So with these you don't twist the dough around like when you frost a cupcake. Hold the tip out over the top of where you want the puff to bake and squeeze out from there.
Bake at 425 for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Turn of the oven. Puncture a hole in the side of each puff to let the steam out. Julia Child used a knife, I have found I like a chop stick better for this. Leave the pan in the oven with the door open and the oven still off until cool, about 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and slit open one side. Fill with whatever you wish and enjoy.
If you aren't going to eat them right away don't fill them until you are ready to eat. They will stay firm for about an hour depending on the filling being used. They don't fall apart, they just get soft after that.