Cream Puffs and…Tact and Diplomacy

Some children are born with oodles of naturally inbuilt tact and diplomacy but for others it has to be an acquired skill.

I was one of those children that needed to acquire those attributes and they were a long time coming.

Just after my fifth birthday my father informed my mother that one of his distant and almost never-seen cousins was coming to stay.  And my mother wasn’t at all happy about it.  My parents were in their late 20’s and were living in a three bedroom house with three children and a newborn baby and definitely no spare rooms.  But Ashley, the cousin from Blenheim who seemed very much like an adult to me but was probably no older than 18, was traveling around New Zealand on the cheap and looking for free accommodation everywhere and on this occasion, Wellington.

Cream Puffs

When Ashley invited himself my father unwisely told him he would be most welcome.  Ashley was told he would have to sleep in the baby’s nursery and the baby would be moved into my parents bedroom for a week – not a problem!  And sleeping in a baby’s nursery and putting everyone out didn’t seem to bother Ashley one little bit.

He arrived empty handed and that didn’t please mun because she always taught us, ‘When you arrive at someone’s home you’ll knock with your elbows because your hands will be full’, and then the problem was that dad would disappear off to the office for long hours and mum would be stuck with Ashley.  And Ashley didn’t say anything.  He could only say one word at a time and that word would be about cars.  Mum took him for a drive around Wellington and instead of looking at the sites he just said, ‘Jaguar’, or ‘Mercedes’, or ‘Holden’ as they passed cars on the motorway.  He was mad on cars and they were his only topic of interest.

He was also a bit creepy because every time mum turned around he was right there in her space like a silent stalker.  He even followed her out to the clothes line and watched her hang out the clothes, all the time staring but saying nothing.

I didn’t understand the issues mum was having with Ashley but I did know he wasn’t welcome.  I went up to him (in front of my mother) and said in my loudest and clearest voice, ‘My mother was very angry when she heard you were coming to stay.’   And I couldn’t understand why my mother was mortified and why Ashley stopped stalking her and disappeared into the baby’s nursery closing the door behind him.

But after that week mum never had to worry about the distant cousin who could only utter one word at a time and was like a silent stalker because he never invited himself to stay ever again.

Back then, we used to eat a lot of cream puffs and I particularly liked mine iced in chocolate.

Cream Puffs

Makes:  About 16 puffs

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5

Cost:  Very inexpensive.  This recipe uses ingredients found in every fridge and pantry.

Very difficult to stop at one!

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbspn butter
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 300ml cream
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 2 tbspns icing mixture

Pre-heat oven to 200C.

Place water in a medium sized saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add butter and continue to boil until butter has melted.  Add flour and salt all at once.  Stir constantly until mixture turns into a ball.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  The dough should still be in a ball when the eggs have been incorporated.

Drop teaspoonfuls of mixture onto a tray lined with baking paper.  Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 mins.

In a large bowl whip cream, vanilla and icing sugar until stiff peaks form.

Remove puffs from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Cut in half and fill with cream.  For further decadence, melt chocolate with a little butter and blend well.  Ice the top of each puff with melted and cooled chocolate.

And just so you know, Kenneth-the-Kiwi has flicked the connection switch and I am back with you all.  In my 14 day absence I greatly missed my cyber-buddies.  If ever you are in a similar situation, may Kenneth-the-Kiwi be there in your hour of need.

Want to keep in touch?  Let’s be friends on Facie! 



  1. Three cheers for Kenneth! My sanity wouldn’t survive that long a trial without Internet access. Nor does it suffer unwanted house guests. I like my space, my privacy, and my time online.

  2. Oh well, you fixed your Mum’s problem! I love cream puffs – and these look superb.

  3. Cream puffs – mmmmm! These look so yummy.

    Glad you got your internet. Hope the new house is worth all the hassle!

  4. oooh these are too cute and look like the perfect dessert to have with guests!

  5. Oh dear! How is Ashley nowadays? The same or has he changed?

  6. Did your Mom reward you with cream puffs after getting over being mortified? Sometimes children can say what adults cannot. Glad you have internet back.

  7. Oh, my. The chocolate glaze looks wonderful on your puffs!

  8. That is such a funny story!! He seems so odd. Silent stalker – eek! These cream puffs look awesome.

  9. Gotta love cream puffs. Meanwhile, although your day is done, hope you had a good St. Patrick’s Day!

  10. You solved a complex problem in a very simple way. I guess the rest of the family members were thinking what to do and all it took was one sentence from a 5-year old to solve it. Sometimes kids may solve a country’s problems more effectively than adults

  11. I have to admire your spunk!

    Great looking cream puffs. I used to make them frequently, but the high elevation where I now live seems to be an issue. But you inspire me to work at tweaking the recipe for high-altitude cooking. Glad you got your internet back!

  12. Ahhh.. so now Kenneth has saved the day!! Yay!! and just in time for this recipe I’ve copied to make for my son who is wild about these!!

  13. It is definitely one of my pet peeves when someone comes to stay and doesn’t bring anything as a thank you. SO RUDE.

    I really want cream puffs now. Like…REALLY.

  14. I hate people that just invite themselves to your place…. it’s so annoying!!!

    The recipe looks great!

  15. Your mother was secretly thanking you … she was only pretending to be mortified. (Or at least that is how it would have been if I were her.) That is why you got so many cream puffs iced in chocolate.

  16. A guest who invites him/herself over and comes empty handed is oblivious enough that they NEED a child’s bluntness rather than an adult’s tact. 🙂

    I love cream puffs. Yours are very fancy with the chocolate glaze. I sift some icing sugar over the top and dig in. 🙂

  17. I bet your mum was secretly pleased you put him in his place!
    I hope she didn’t offer him any of these puffs, or he would never have left!

  18. Oh what tact you had Charlie! I love your mother’s teachings. I never arrive empty handed but ‘knocking with your elbows’ is a great lesson!

  19. I love your story 🙂 Never made cream puffs before, but I really need to. I grew up eating them as fast as I could before my sister caught me hehehe

  20. Great story, just as we’ve come to expect. i still cannot believe you couldn’t find a publisher. It just doesn’t make sense. Maybe if you sent a few of these cream puffs with the manuscript? It couldn’t hurt. And, yes, three cheers for Kenneth!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks John. And you’ve come up with a great idea. Perhaps I should have been sending off my manuscripts with food parcels – that could be the missing link xx

  21. Hooray for Kenneth the Kiwi 😉

    I can’t say I was born with tact – I seemed to spend the larger part of my childhood extracting my foot from my mouth :p

    Love the look of your cream puffs though – it’s funny how cheaply and deliciously they can be made at home and restaurants and shops charge the earth for them!

  22. Just as well Ashley didn’t get to taste any cream puffs or you would never have got rid of him! You were certainly a truth-teller as a child – and no doubt your mother was glad to have it said.

  23. lol, been there done that 😀 the cream puffs look delish! i nominated ur wonderful blog with the ‘versatile blogger award’, please collect it if you wish , have a great day 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks so much for the award Deeps, I’m very honoured and sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. My server went down and so I’ve been without the ability to blog – very frustrating.

  24. Gorgeous cream puff. I always appreciate a very straight shooter.

  25. Oh gosh, how funny…but it seems like you weren’t the only one in need of manner’s lessons and you were only 5 vs. Ashley’s 18! I suspect your Mum was secretly pleased and you were all happy to have things back to normal…and if cream puffs like these were appearing, one less person to share them with would have been another quite significant bonus.

    Great news on the internet!

  26. Out the mouths of babes!
    🙂 Mandy

  27. We have been lucky, never had a stayer like that, but the cream puffs are so moresome

  28. Oh, these cream puffs look so lovely and delicious!

  29. Way to go! I’m sure your Mum was relieved…after she got over being mortified!
    The cream puffs look fantastic-I haven’t made them in a long time, and this reminds me how yummy they are 🙂

  30. Your mother must have adored you. I bet she baked cream puffs to reward you.. 🙂

    And you deserved them too!

  31. Yes creepy family memories. I am sure your mother was secretly quite pleased. Love the cream puffs they were on my to do list . They are great aren’t they?

  32. That’s ballsy of you at such a young age! LOL
    But I bet your Mom secretly adored that you did it.

  33. I enjoy cream puffs and these are very lovely, Charlie. I agree with Carolyn (above) – she must have been VERY proud of you who stood up and said it. I am like your mom who has complaints but no guts to say it. Do you still see him and talk about that time?

  34. Oh dear. I’m known to suffer from foot-in-mouth even to this day and my eldest is the same. My heart goes out to her when she wonders why those who profess to prefer honesty don’t like it when it comes their way.

  35. I don’t think I was born with tact and diplomacy inbuilt either….so practice, practice, practice.
    The cream puffs look brilliant….no diplomacy required there 🙂

  36. Sometimes children’s honest words are so welcome! The cream puffs look terrific.

  37. I hope your internet troubles are far behind you, Charlie. These puffs look delicious and I love how direct little people can be. I changed my hairstyle a little while ago and my 7 year old niece said “Auntie Eva, what happened to your hair!” I suspect she liked the old style better!

  38. Hilarious Charlie. Sometimes kids don’t always say the polite things, but they can say what’s needed to be said.

  39. YAY seems like they finally fixed your internet that’s great! I don’t particularly like it when people invite themselves over to stay… And when they’re not polite too lol the fact that you walked up to him reminds me of when I walked up to my dad’s friend and asked him very loudly in front of others ‘why do you have a really big black dot on your forehead?!?’ the whole room went quiet lol because that was actually a birth mark and that man was very embarrassed…gosh i’m kinda embarrassed too hehe thinking about it 😛

  40. So glad you’re connected again! And don’t you just love how kids say stuff like that? ha. I adore cream puffs – and find them quite easy and fun to make!

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