In addition to the more special events, the women would alternate giving luncheons at their homes. I remember the care that went into those meals when it was my mother's turn to play hostess. The food she served was more decorative and special than our regular home-style meals and usually ended with a wonderful dessert.
Sometimes Mother made elegant cream puff shells for these luncheons and filled the shells with chicken salad; sometimes the choux paste was piped out to make the more elongated eclair shells that would become a dainty, if not cosmopolitan, dessert.
Whenever I make cream puff or eclair shells, I think of those happy, chatty women...their attire complete with hats and gloves and all the preparation that went into their women's club luncheons. The Easy Cream Puffs featured in the recipe below make use of instant pudding and Cool Whip for the filling. It is not as gourmet as a French custard filling with real whipped cream that my mother made, but it is a lot less work and has substantially fewer calories.
Easy Cream Puffs
1/2 C water
1/4 C margarine
1/2 C flour
1/8 tsp salt
Add water to a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add margarine and allow to melt. Add flour and salt all at once and quickly stir with a fork. Cook and stir until the mixture forms a ball that does not fall apart. Remove pot from heat and cool dough slightly. Add eggs, one at a time; beat thoroughly after each addition.
Dough, or choux paste, may be piped onto a greased baking sheet in 4-inch strips x 3/4 inch wide to make eclair shells or it may be spooned out and dropped onto the greased baking sheet to make cream puff shells.
Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes; lower heat to 325 degrees and continue baking for 20 minutes more.
Remove pan from oven and split the shells. Lay them open and put shells back in into the oven to dry for 20 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack. Fill just before serving. Makes 4 large or 6 medium cream puffs or 7 small eclairs.
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding, 1 1/4 C one-percent milk, 1/2 container whipped topping (8oz). Add instant pudding to milk in a large bowl. Stir well. When slightly thick, fold in whipped topping. Refrigerate until ready to use. Fill bottom half of shells and replace tops. Frost tops if desired or drizzle with chocolate syrup.