Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cream Puffs

Photo from
I first made cream puffs when I was a young girl.  I don't remember the occasion, but I do remember making the real thing, with the choux pastry, pastry cream, and a chocolate glaze on top.  Making the simple pastry requires few ingredients but a bit of upper arm strength.  Butter and flour are combined in a sauce pan and eggs are beaten in, one at a time, until the dough becomes shiny and elastic and pulls away from the pan. Tablespoons of the dough are dropped on a cookie sheet (or can be piped from a pastry bag) and bake up light and airy, with hollow centers.  Once cooled, delicious pastry cream is loaded into the shells and a chocolate ganache is added as the elegant and perfect topper.  I love these sooooo much.  The dough can be shaped into rounds for cream puffs or into oblongs for eclairs.  Mini-cream puffs are profiteroles, and can also be served at luncheons as part of a meal, often stuffed with chicken- or tuna-salad.  These are lovely, but in my sweet-loving opinion cannot hold a candle to the creamy original!

I don't know anyone who doesn't love a cream puff.  It's a happy little dessert, an elegant indulgence that one doesn't come across too often.   If you see a cream puff, I say:  eat it!


Choux pastry:
Choux Pastry Recipe, from

1 cup water
6 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
4 medium eggs

Preheat oven to 425°F (210°C). In a saucepan mix the butter, salt and sugar with the water, and heat just until the water boils and the butter melts. Remove from heat and immediately add all of the flour. Beat with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a ball and detaches from the sides of the pan.

Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next one. (This is a workout by the way!)

To make cream puffs, work with two tablespoons, one to scoop and one to scrape. Place mounds of dough on a nonstick cookie tray, spacing them somewhat apart. You can also use a pastry tube to form the mounds.

Bake at 425°F (210°C) for 20 minutes for smaller puffs. For larger puffs, bake for 20 minutes at 425°F (210°C), then reduce oven temperature to 375°F (190°C) and bake another 10 to 15 minutes. Puffs should be baked until they are an even medium brown color all over.

Remove from oven and immediately make a small cut in the side of each with a sharp knife. This allows the steam to escape as the puffs cool and keeps them from getting soggy. You can then return the puffs to the turned off oven with the door ajar for 10 minutes.

To fill the puffs, after they have completely cooled, cut off their tops and spoon in filling. Replace top and sprinkle with powdered sugar or perhaps drizzle with chocolate or caramel if you wish.

If you want to get really fancy, you can use a cake decorating tube to pipe the filling in through a hole in the side.

Makes 12 good sized cream puffs, or 24 smaller ones.

Pastry Cream Recipe - stuff into completely cooled cream puff shells

2 cups milk
1/4 cup white sugar
2 egg yolks
1 egg 1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a heavy saucepan, stir together the milk and 1/4 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and egg. Stir together the remaining sugar and cornstarch; then stir them into the egg until smooth. When the milk comes to a boil, drizzle it into the bowl in a thin stream while mixing so that you do not cook the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly so the eggs don' t curdle or scorch on the bottom.

3. When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, remove from the heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla, mixing until the butter is completely blended in. Pour into a heat-proof container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled before using

Chocolate Ganache

12 ounces good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or morsels
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Place chocolate in heat-proof bowl.

Bring heavy cream just to a boil over medium heat.  Pour over chopped chocolate in bowl.  Let sit to begin to melt.  a?fter a few minutes, whisk choclate and cream until it is completely smooth.  Allow to cool to a point where it will nicely glaze the top of a cream puff.  Put a generous tablespoon over the top of each cream-filled cream puff.  Chill until ready to serve.

Photo image: borrowed, with gratitude, from


  1. I love cream puffs! I first made them in French class my senior year of high school when we had the great opportunity to cook once a week. They're such a fun, tasty little pastry!

  2. Ok....these are sinful and divine...all at the same time!!! YUM!!! Please stop by my blog when you can and get your award! Thanks for all you've done to help me along the way!!!