6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage, cooked and drained
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In saucepan, melt butter until bubbling. Add cream, and warm. Add Parmesan, then stir constantly until mixture is hot and cheese is melted. Add pepper to taste. Mix sausage into sauce. Bake pastry shells (see recipe below), and fill with sausage mixture.

Chou Paste

1 cup water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs

Cover heavy baking sheet with buttered parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Warm water in heavy saucepan over low heat. Add butter. Sift flour and salt together. When butter has melted, increase heat and bring to boil. Turn off heat, and add flour to water. Stir until thoroughly combined, then stir over medium heat until mixture forms solid mass that comes away cleanly from sides of pan. Reduce heat to low, and stir constantly for 3 minutes to dry dough slightly. Remove from heat, and let paste cool for a few minutes.

To make puffs, add eggs to paste 1 at a time, beating with mixer, until paste forms a ball. Fill pastry bag with paste, and pipe 1/2-inch-diameter mounds onto baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart. (Alternatively, spoon 2 teaspoons of paste for each puff onto paper.) Bake for 20 minutes or until puffs have more than doubled in size and are lightly brown and firm. Pierce each puff with a toothpick, and return puffs to oven for a few minutes to dry out. Cool on rack. To fill puffs, carefully slice tops off, and place 1 tablespoon of sausage mixture on each bottom half. Replace tops.

Serves 12

From “The Pleasure of Their Companies,” originally featured in Domain, Winter 1988