1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups milk (skim, low-fat, or full-fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix (sugar-free, 1 ounce; or regular, 3.4 ounce)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red food color, optional
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
Combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan, heat until the butter has melted, and bring to a rolling boil.
Add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously until the mixture smoothes out and follows the spoon around the pan; this should take less than 30 seconds.
Remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
It'll still feel hot, but you should be able to hold a finger in it for a few seconds.
Transfer the dough to a mixer, and beat in the eggs one at a time; the mixture will look curdled at first, but when you add the last egg it should become smooth.
Beat for 1 minute after adding the last egg.
You'll have a stiff, smooth batter.
Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls (about the size of a chestnut) onto the prepared sheets (a teaspoon cookie scoop works well here).
Leave about 1 1/2 to 2 inches between them; they're going to expand to about the size of a golf ball.
Bake the puffs for about 20 minutes, till they've puffed, they're a medium golden-brown, and they look dry.
Remove baked puffs from the oven, and use a sharp knife to cut a slit into the side of each puff, for steam to escape; this will help prevent them from becoming soggy.
Return the puffs to the oven for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool.
To fill puffs:
Combine all of the filling ingredients, stirring till it's begun to thicken.
Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.
Pudding can be made ahead; puffs are best filled just before serving.
Gently open each puff along a natural "fault line" you'll see where they want to split.
Fill bottom half of each puff with 2 measured teaspoons of filling, and replace with top half.
Too fill puffs fuller, see tip at right.
Sift powdered sugar atop puffs just before serving.
For pink sugar:
Combine sugar with red food coloring in a blender or food processor (a mini processor works well here).
Rub the pink sugar through a sieve onto the puffs.