A classic Italian dessert with a rich custard filling.
Italian Cream Puffs
Preheat oven to 425. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda together and set aside.
In a heavy saucepan, heat the water. Add the butter. When melted, remove the pan from the stove and add the flour mixture all at once. Beat with a wooden spoon, then return the pan to medium-high heat, beating the mixture until it comes away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and add the eggs one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon or hand mixer in-between additions to mix well.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch tip with the cream puff batter. Squeeze out 3-inch puffs, about ½ inch apart on a cookie sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. When done, carefully slit the side of each cream puff with a knife to allow steam to escape and to prevent the puffs from becoming soggy inside. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool.
In saucepan over moderate heat, combine sugar, flour and salt. Add milk gradually, cooking and stirring until mixture is thick and bubbly.
Lower heat, stirring for 2 minutes and remove from heat. In a small bowl, add cream mixture to eggs slowly. Return mixture back to pan. Bring to gently boil for 2 more minutes, adding butter, rum, and vanilla. Transfer to a shallow bowl to cool, placing plastic wrap on the top of the custard to prevent a skin forming. Refrigerate.
Once custard has cooled completely, pipe into opened pastry shells until they are so full they might pop, top with a cherry, and dust with powdered sugar.