Friday, January 24, 2014

Cream Puffs

About 6 years ago I took a French Patisserie baking course through a local cooking school.  I learned to make puff pastry, baba au rhum, palmiers and pâte à choux.  Since that time I have only ever made a pâte à choux for gougères one time.  All those hours in a classroom and I haven't done a thing with it!

For those of you who are not familiar with pâte à choux I will give a little background:  choux pastry, or pâte à choux (pronounced: paht ah shoo), is a light pastry dough used to make profiteroles (cream puffs), croquembouches, éclairs, French crullers, and gougères.  

Sounds super fancy and difficult....right?  Well, it is not.  It is actually very simple to make and fairly fool proof.  There are very few ingredients in it, you need a mixer and you need an oven.  Most people pipe the dough onto parchment paper but you could just as easily scoop spoonfulls.

The ingredients are cooked on the stove top, the flour is added and then cooked a bit....then you put the dough into your mixing bowl to cool for a bit (we don't want to cook those eggs as we mix them in)!

Once it has cooled you beat the eggs in and you will have a nice smooth batter that is easy to pipe. (Not the smoking kind of pipe....the piping bag kind of pipe.  Geez....get your minds out of the gutter)

It really doesn't matter how you pipe them, what size, what shape, etc.  It only matters that they are all uniform so that they bake at the same time.

The baking time may seem pretty long for these little beauties but you really want to make sure the inside isn't doughy and that it dries out.  I tend to sacrifice one of the puffs and open it up and make sure the dough is cooked through.  The only other way to know for sure is through experience of doing it time and time again.

Once they are cooled, fill them with anything you like.  I did a sweetened whipped cream but I think a pastry cream would be fabulous or even a chocolate mousse!

Seems pretty simple doesn't it?  I love when those desserts that we think of as fancy are really simple and not a lot of work.  I guarantee if you make these for dessert, your guests will be truly impressed with you!

Cream Puffs adapted from King Arthur Flour
makes 2 dozen pastries (depending on size you make them, mine were 2" in diameter)

Choux batter:
1 cup water
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper.

Combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan, heat until the butter has melted, and bring to a rolling boil.

Remove the pan from the heat, and add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously.

Return the pan to the burner and cook over medium heat, stirring all the while, until the mixture smooths out and follows the spoon around the pan; this should take less than a minute.

Transfer the mixture to a mixer, and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes until warm but not hot.  Beat in the eggs one at a time; it'll look curdled at first, but when you add the last egg it should become smooth. Beat for at least 2 minutes after adding the last egg.

Scoop batter into piping bag and pipe small mounds 1 1/2 - 2 inches in diameter (can make any size, adjust baking times accordingly).  Space the mounds about 3" apart, to allow for expansion. Wet your finger tip to smooth down any tips on the mounds (to avoid burning).

Bake the pastries for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until pastries are a medium golden brown and sound hollow when you tap on them. Don't open the oven door while the pastries are baking.

Remove the pastries from the oven and turn oven off.  Make a small slit in the side of each, and return them to the oven for 5 minutes, to allow the steam to escape. Place them on a rack to cool. 

Whipped cream filling:
2 cups whipping cream
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place ingredients into mixer and mix on high until stiff peaks form.

Chocolate glaze:
2/3 cup (4 oz) good quality dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons milk

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a microwave or double boiler, then stir in enough milk to make it smooth.

Assemble cream puffs:
Split puffs in half and pipe or spoon whipped cream into shells.  Replace shell lid and spoon melted chocolate glaze over the top.  Serve immediately or store in refrigerator for up to a few hours.

These are versitile shells and can be filled with pastry cream or whipped cream or any other filling.  You can pipe the filling into the center instead of splitting them in half. You can top the shells with powdered sugar or any other glaze.  Make them to suit your tastes and enjoy!!!

Recipe Shared On:
Freedom Fridays
Strut Your Stuff Saturday Link Party
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
Wednesdays Adorned From Above Link Party
What'd You Do This Weekend


  1. These look like little puffs of heaven, so creamy and delicious! :D
    And I love your site's look, sorry I have not been around a lot lately!


    1. Thanks CCU!!! Don't worry about not being around....I haven't been around much myself. I have been busy with school and I took the winter break to catch up on blogging....and baking....and eating! :)

  2. My husband loves these. If they ever end up on a dessert menu I know what we are getting. Maybe I will make him some for Valentine's Day.

    1. What a great surprise that would be for him on Valentine's Day. They are really quite easy to make and so delicious!!

  3. Hello my name is Francesca and I'm Italian. I discovered your blog by accident and I immediately liked, because there are so many interesting things. I have joined your followers. If you go too foul. Thank you. Francesca.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by Francesca and for following me! I hope that you find many new recipes to enjoy! :)

  4. Oh my goodness Becky these are gorgeous! I've always been a little intimidated by pate a choux, but you make it look so manageable, I guess I'll have to dive right in! :)

    1. Thanks Jess! You could absolutely do this....they are not hard at all and they are delicious!

  5. I think I gained 10lbs just looking at these pictures lol! They look fantastic, thanks for sharing the recipe. My Mom is the great pastry maker in the family and I miss her creations since I've moved country. I'll be giving this recipe a go for sure :) Pinned!

    I found your blog via the Hearth & Soul Hop this week.

    1. Thanks so much Aurelia! I really hope you do try making them, I think it is so much fun! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  6. Your Cream Puffs look fabulous, Becky! I have never made them at home - I would love to take a course like you did. Your tutorial is fantastic and I'm feeling inspired to give cream puffs a try soon :D I've pinned this post and shared it on Facebook. Thank you for sharing your beautiful cream puffs with us at the Hearth and Soul hop.

    1. You should absolutely give them a try and I encourage anyone and everyone to take a course on French Pattiserie baking. The French know how to take simple ingredients and make them into something fabulous just by using technique. :)

  7. Thanks for sharing this with What'd You Do This Weekend. I checked out your Pinterest boards. Great pins. Hope to see you again next week.


    1. Thanks so much for hosting Linda! I will be back for sure!

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