If there’s one thing that the Japanese excel at, it’s taking an existing product and beating it into its most perfect form. (Cars, computers, or quirky game shows, for example.) So what happens when a Japanese man from Osaka decides to turn this skill toward pastry? You get the self-proclaimed “World’s Best Cream Puffs.” Although its logo looks a little like a Caucasian Papa Smurf wearing a yellow beanie, Beard Papa’s idiosyncratic advertising belies the quality of its puffs.
I know, I know: a cream puff’s a cream puff, right? Not when the shell is made with two kinds of pastry. A tender pâte-à-choux center is coated with a thin layer of flaky, lightly sweetened pie crust. The rich, eggy custard filling is mixed with whipped cream right before being pumped into the pastry shells, which are filled to order — saving these puffs from the soggy-crusted fate to which most North End–bakery versions seem to fall victim. And at nearly three ounces, these tennis-ball-sized puffs might be the most custard you can buy for $1.95. While the original flavor, heavily dotted with vanilla beans and sprinkled with powdered sugar, is the most popular, the occasionally available green tea, Earl Grey, and pumpkin varieties are seasonal treats to watch for.
Available for $1.95 each or $9.90 for a half dozen at BEARD PAPA, 1 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston. Call 617.570.9070.
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