Okay, so I don't get out to the west coast very often. Surely that's the reason that I had never heard of Beard Papa, the oddly named chain of cream puff shops. Yes, shops that specialize entirely in cream puffs. I don't know whose sick, twisted idea this was, but when I encountered such a shop near the Moscone Conference Center in San Francisco, I wasn't going to pass up a taste.
The cream puffs are filled to order with your choice of cream flavors. They had the standard white/vanilla, chocolate, and a couple exotic flavors, including mango. Having never had a mango cream puff, I went with that. They offered powdered sugar (yes, please!), and after watching the mango cream get injected with something that looked like a surgical instrument from the middle ages, I was ready to eat.
I'm no expert on French pastry. My baked good tastes tend more towards the American-style brownie or chocolate chip cookie. Still, this seemed like quite a good cream puff. Flaky, light, with just a slight chew. The mango cream was great. Imagine a sweetened mango puree whipped up into a mousse. The combination worked for me. In fact, if I hadn't been eating my mango cream puff while meeting with a business associate, I might have gone back for a second.
If you find yourself in California and looking for a light snack, look for the crazy shop with the crazy name.