- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Wouldn’t it be fun to wow your dad, not to mention the whole family, with a fabulous dessert on Father’s Day?

What if it could be made entirely in advance and simply assembled when it’s time to serve? Not only would everyone love the treat, you would be the family hero and probably official dessert maker for years to come.

I suggest a great and easy dessert of cream puffs with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. You can bake the cream puffs the day before and just reheat them an hour before serving to crisp them up again. Make the balls of ice cream and place on a plastic-covered pan in the freezer.

The chocolate sauce can be made two days in advance and reheated and covered an hour before you plan to serve the dessert.

After dinner, all you need to do is split the puffs, arrange the bottom halves on plates (3 to a serving), top with ice cream and the top half of the cream puff and ladle on the warm chocolate sauce. The only sound at the table will be the scraping of the spoons against the plates to get every last bit.

If you have a do-it-yourself family, you might want to invite them to assemble their own in the kitchen. Just make sure dad is first in line.

Cream puffs with ice cream and chocolate sauce

Vary the flavor of ice cream if you wish, but the classic is vanilla.

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

teaspoon salt, plus 1 pinch

1 cup flour

4 large eggs

1 cup heavy whipping cream

⅓ cup sugar

⅓ cup light corn syrup

12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, cut into -inch pieces

2 teaspoons vanilla

About 1 pint premium vanilla ice cream

Cover one cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment or foil for baking the puffs. Cover another with plastic wrap for freezing the ice cream balls. Set both aside.

To make the puffs, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees.

Bring 1 cup water, butter and teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Turn off heat, stir in flour all at once and return pan to heat and beat paste with a wooden spoon for about 30 seconds. Transfer hot paste to a mixing bowl and stir for 30 seconds to cool.

Stir in the eggs, one at a time, stirring smooth after each addition.

To form the puffs, arrange teaspoons of the dough about 2 inches apart on the prepared pan.

Bake the puffs for about 15 minutes, or until they are well risen and golden. Then open the oven for a few seconds to let out some heat, lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for about 15 minutes longer until they are deep golden and crisp.

Cool the puffs on a rack. For advance preparation place in a plastic bag and freeze. If using the puffs the next day, just refrigerate.

For the chocolate sauce, bring the cream, sugar and corn syrup to a boil in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar.

Turn off heat, add bittersweet chocolate and vanilla and shake the pan gently to submerge the chocolate. Let stand 2 minutes, then whisk smooth. Pour sauce into a clean jar or other heat-proof container, cover and refrigerate until an hour before needed.

To form the ice cream balls, place the prepared pan in the freezer for 15 minutes, then scoop out as many balls of ice cream as you have puffs. If it is warm in the kitchen, do this in several stages so the ice cream doesn’t melt. Cover the balls of ice cream with plastic wrap and freeze until needed.

To assemble, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set a rack in the middle level. Arrange the cold or frozen puffs on a pan and bake them for 10 minutes, or until they are heated through. Cool them on a rack and cut each in half horizontally with a sharp serrated knife.

Bring a medium pan of water to a simmer and stand the jar of chocolate sauce in the water. Continue heating, stirring the sauce occasionally, until it is hot.

To assemble one dessert, place 3 puff bottoms on a plate and top with scoops of ice cream. Cover with the reserved tops. Just before serving, ladle a couple of tablespoons of chocolate sauce over each puff. Repeat with remaining puffs, ice cream and sauce. Makes about 8 servings, with 3 puffs per serving.

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