These glorious pastry cream filled Cream Puffs will make a stunning addition to your special occasion desserts menu.
I know when it comes to treats like these puffs, they can seem unattainable. I'm here to tell you that, they really aren't. Puffs are made using simple pantry staples that when combined transform into a pastry classic. They require several steps to make but, don't be intimidated, you can do it.
What is Pâte à Choux?
Pâte à Choux sounds so fancy doesn't it? Admittedly, it does roll off the tongue rather smoothly. It's a pastry dough that consists of flour, water, sugar and eggs. Unlike other doughs, the pastry is pre-cooked on the stovetop before adding eggs one at a time. The choux is then piped, and baked to form crispy shells. It's used to make everything from these mouthwatering cream puffs to profiteroles and eclairs. It can also be used to make puffs with savory fillings.
Tips for Making Cream Puffs
- It will take several minutes for the raw taste of the flour to cook out of the choux dough on the stovetop.
- You'll know it's done when the dough looks shiny, there's a film on the bottom of the pan and it pulls away from the sides of the saucepan.
- Mix each egg into the dough thoroughly until the dough comes together before adding another egg.
- Puffs require a blast of heat to create the steam they need to puff and hollow out.
- When baked, the outside should be crisp, golden, with a hollow sound when gently tapped.
- After baking, it's important to find an inconspicuous place on each puff to poke a hole to allow the steam to escape while cooling.
- Once the puffs are filled, the shells will hydrate rather quickly and soften. Due to this, I don't recommend you fill them too far in advance.
- These are dessert puffs and they're filled with a scrumptious pastry cream. They can also be filled with fresh sweetened whipped cream, lemon curd, nutella and more.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
- Puffs Pastry: (Pate a Choux)
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 2 tsp sugar
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 5 large eggs Use one egg for egg wash
- 1 tsp cold water
- Pastry cream:
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1/16 tsp salt
- 2 cups whole milk or half and half
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Set aside.
- In a medium-size saucepan bring water, butter, sugar and salt to a rolling boil.
- Remove from heat, mix in flour. Return to burner on medium and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the flour begins to pull away from the sides and forms a film on the bottom of the saucepan. The pate a choux should form a ball.
- Scrape into a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the dough for 1 minute on medium speed to cool slightly before adding 4 eggs one at a time. Stop after each egg to scrape the sides of the bowl. The dough may separate after adding each egg but, will come together when beaten.
- Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy and the eggs are completely incorporated.
- Use a piping bag fitted with a plain tip to pipe rounds 2 inches in diameter on baking sheets. Leave 2 inches between each puff. Alternately, use a Tbsp using 2 Tbsp dough for each round. Rounds should be approximately 2-inch circles about ½ inch high. Leave 2 inches between to allow for spreading.
- Beat remaining egg with water. Gently smooth tips of pastry with finger dipped in egg wash then brush each puff with remaining egg wash.
- Bake for 15 minutes then lower the oven temperature to 375°F. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until golden and they sound hollow when gently tapped.
- Pierce each puff on the side, using the tip of a knife or a skewer to allow steam to release. You won't need a large slit, just a small inconspicuous hole. Cool completely on the baking sheet.
- To make the pastry cream filling: Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium-size heavy bottomed saucepan. Whisk together milk and egg yolks in a glass measuring cup; add to saucepan along with butter and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil 1 minute, still whisking; then remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
- Strain pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface of cream to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Just before using, whisk until smooth.
- To fill, use a sharp knife to cut puffs through the middle leaving one side intact. Fill puffs with pastry cream using an open star tip or Tbsp.
- Dust with powdered sugar. Serve chilled.
- Both the puff shells and the pastry cream can be made up to 2 days in advance. Store separately, with pastry cream chilled in the fridge and puffs at room temperature in an airtight container.
- Unfilled puff shells may also be cooled and frozen. Thaw in the fridge. They may also be re-crisped in a 425°F oven for a few minutes before filled, if desired. Watch closely.
- Puffs may be filled up to 1 hour in advance of serving.
- You may also use a Tbsp to make rounds allowing about 2 Tbsp dough for each.