Cream puffs have been around forever. My mom made them when I was a child. And I’ve been making them for my family since my first baby was born. We now have 8 children, one son & seven daughters & 35 grandchildren. We’ve made cream puffs for all sorts of occasions. We all absolutely LOVE them! But what is really fun is when you are doing them as part of the song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas'...'Seven Swans a Swimming'. My grandchildren squeal with delight and love to help ‘fill’ the swans and decorate them. The finishing touch is a pond of chocolate & fresh strawberries.
1In a saucepan, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil. Add flour all at once and stir vigorously until a smooth ball forms. Remove the sauce pan from the heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated. Beat until smooth and shiny.
2Cut a small hole in the corner of a heavy-duty freezer resealable plastic bag (like ziplock.) Fill bag with about ½ cup of batter. On a greased baking sheet, pipe 10-12 three inch long "S" shapes for the swan necks. Make a small dollop at one end of each S for the head. Bake at 425° for about 5-8 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven to cool. Don’t over bake and get overbrowned.
3For swan bodies, put large spoonfuls of batter onto greased baking sheets. With a spoon spread each out to form an oval about 3 ½ inches long and 2 ½ inches wide. (There should be 10-12 using all the batter). Bake at 425 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Do NOT UNDERBAKE. NOTE: Don't overbrown. The tops of the puffs should be hard to the touch when ready. If they are too soft they will collapse. If necessary at this point turn off oven and let sit in oven for a half hour. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks. NOTE: This can be done a day in advance.
4Meanwhile put pudding mixes into a medium to large bowl. Add the milk and mix well. Set aside to ‘set’ about 5 minutes. Whip the cream adding the sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold in the whipped cream into the pudding. Chill.
5Carefully slice off top third of swan bodies; set tops aside. Remove any soft dough inside. Spoon or pipe pudding mixture into bottoms of puffs dividing mixture evenly. Cut reserved tops in half lengthwise to form wings; set wings at an angle in filling. Dust with powdered sugar. Meanwhile tie a ribbon around the neck of each swan underneath the head making a bow with small streamer. With a small dab of white corn syrup or frosting, ‘glue’ the green candy holly leaves and red candy berries on the knot of the red bows. Carefully put a neck in each swans body at the top of the angled wings into the filling. If desired, dust with confectioners' sugar again.
6Pour the chocolate sauce or warmed hot fudge onto a round or oval platter. Carefully set seven of the Swans in a circle facing out on the outward edge of the chocolate ‘pond.’ Arrange strawberries in center of the ‘pond.’ Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
7Makes 10-12 Christmas Swans on a chocolate pond. Expect raves. These are delicious and make a ‘Wow’ presentation. Both kids and adults love them.