Chocolate cake. Photo: Timothy Gerdes, Flickr.
Much like cupcakes, this heavenly dessert is as precious to taste as it is to regard, with two crispy choux pastry shells enveloping a light cream or custard filling, topped off with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Unique by right of the hollow crust it forms, choux pastry is thought to have originated in Renaissance Italy and France, where it was supposedly dubbed "choux" ("cauliflower") for its bulbous appearance. Catherine de Medici's pastry chef is credited with the inclusion of a moist, creamy filling, but it is Antonin Careme who is thought to have perfected the dessert.
The trick of the cream puff is in the pastry, not the pudding. For a detailed recipe, we suggest that of the Food Network, who pairs it with a promising -- if untraditional -- chocolate whipped cream center.