Learn how to make cream puffs with this step-by-step tutorial. Cream puffs are delicate pastry shells made from choux pastry (pate a choux) and filled with whipped cream or pastry cream.
Cream puffs are delicate pastry shells made from baked choux pastry. The shells are then filled with a creamy filling like whipped cream or pastry cream. The filling can be piped into the shell or the shell can be cut in half and then filled.
CLASSIC CREAM PUFFS
yield: ABOUT 24 CREAM PUFFS prep time: 20 MINUTES cook time: 25 MINUTES total time: 45 MINUTES
This is the basic recipe for making cream puffs using the classic french pastry- pate a choux.
FOR THE SHELLS
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk
1 stick (1/2 cup, 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
large pinch kosher salt
2 TBSP (24 grams) granulated sugar (optional, but will sweeten them slightly)
1 cup (127 grams) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
FOR THE CREAM CHANTILLY
1 cups (237 ml) heavy cream, cold
3 TBSP powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste INSTRUCTIONS
For the Shells
Place the water, milk, butter, and salt in a sauce pot over medium high heat. Stir until butter is melted and everything comes to a boil. When the mixture is boiling, take it off the heat and pour the flour into the pot all at once. Stir quickly and vigorously. This mixture is called the panade.
When the mixture becomes smooth, flatten it to the bottom of the pan and return it to medium heat. Let the mixture sit on the bottom of the pan until you start to hear it crackling. At this point pull the mixture to the side and if there is a thin film left on the bottom of the pan it is dried out enough. If there is not, let it heat for a little while longer until a film forms.
Remove the mixture from the heat and stir until most of the steam has evaporated. This is called "evacuating the steam" and is important to further dry out the pastry dough.
Off of the heat, add one egg at a time into the mixture and stir vigorously until it is completely absorbed into the dough before adding the next. The batter will look smooth and glossy when it is ready. Use immediately or store covered in a cool spot for up to 3 hours.
Place batter in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip or a zip top bag with the tip cut off. Preheat oven to 425F (we will crank up the oven heat once we put the cream puffs in). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Hold the pastry bag over the baking sheet and squeeze over one area until you have about a 1 1/2 inch round (or 2" for larger cream puffs). Release the pressure from the bag and pull up to release the dough mound. You will have a little peak on the each that can be smoothed out with a wet fingertip. Keep the mounds about 2 inches apart.
Place one baking sheet at a time in the oven and turn to heat up to 450F. This will create an active heating cycle for your oven so that the shells will puff up quickly. Bake for 10 minutes (without opening the oven) then drop the heat down to 350F and bake for 13-15 more minutes until the shells are crispy on the outside and set. Allow the oven to preheat back to 425 F before baking the next sheet.
Fill cooled pastries with creme chantilly (recipe follows) and dust with powdered sugar.
For the Creme Chantilly
Whip cream by hand, in stand mixer with whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer until just starting to thicken.
Add sugar and vanilla and continue whipping until soft to medium peaks form.
Fill a pastry bag with the cream, and pipe into the bottom of the puffs until filled.