The very first time I had a cream puff, my stepdad was enjoying his day off work by watching some Sunday football…with a big tub of frozen cream puffs in his lap.
(Side note: Is Sunday football + a big tub of cream puffs the “man equivalent” of a ladies night chick flick + a pint of ice cream? Quite possibly).
He held the bucket of golden little puffballs in front of me and after tasting one, I instantly understood why he had the whole bucket out. Cream puffs are “wow delicious.”
I call these cream puffs, but you could call them profiteroles just the same, and there are quite a few options for filling them. Some people like ice cream, some people like pastry cream, and some people like straight-up whipped cream.
In the recipe box below I’ve included my recipe for my favorite filling, which is a vanilla pastry cream with whipped cream folded in, but feel free to fill with whatever you’d like. I have a deliciously silky chocolate pastry cream recipe on my site too that I love.
To make the choux dough for our little puffs, first place a stick of butter and water in a pan:
Melt the two together:
Dump in a bunch of flour, and get ready to stir like crazy:
Using a wooden spoon, stir like mad until the mixture becomes smooth, and the dough falls away from the sides of the pan (which you can see here):
Place the dough in a food processor with a bunch of eggs:
And pulse the mixture until the eggs are incorporated and the mixture is thick, kind of like a super thick cake batter:
Pipe the dough into little mounds on a baking sheet:
And use wet fingers to press down on the tips:
Once they are baked, let them cool completely. Then you can fill them with whatever you want! If you have the right tip you can pipe the filling into the puffs without cutting them open, otherwise I just slice them in half and fill. Honestly I like the look of it better since you can see the filling peeking out.
As far as toppings go, I just dipped them with a little melted bittersweet chocolate, and you can top the chocolate with sprinkles, fleur de sel or other fine sea salts, pink peppercorn (if you’re adventurous), and so on. Enjoy!
Yield: makes 2-3 dozen puffs, depending on size
For the choux dough:
1 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
5 oz all purpose flour (1 cup)
pinch of salt
4 extra large eggs (or 5 large)
For the pastry cream:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
5 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.
Place the water and butter in a saucepan and melt over medium high heat. Dump the flour and salt in all at once and stir, on the heat, for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is smooth and the dough falls away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the dough to a food processor and let it cool for five minutes. Then add all the eggs. Pulse the mixture until the dough is smooth and has incorporated the eggs. The dough should look like a super thick cake batter.
Transfer this choux dough into a piping pag and pipe out small mounds of dough, about an inch in diameter, and about 1/2 inch tall. They will puff up considerably and you don't want to make them too tall. Bake for about 25 minutes until the puffs are golden brown, then remove them from the oven and use a knife to poke a small hole into each of the puffs. This will let the steam escape and prevent our puffs from getting soggy. Let them cool completely before filling. That means it's a good time to start making our pastry cream!
Scald the milk in a saucepan over medium high heat (you want to cook the milk to about 180 degrees F, when little bubbles start to form on the side of the pan. This is the stage before a boil). While the milk heats up, whisk to combine 1/2 cup sugar, the egg yolks, and cornstarch. Once the milk has come to the right temperature, slowly dribble the milk into the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly, then return all of the liquid to the pan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, for the next minute or two, until the mixture comes to a boil and the mixture thickens up considerably. Remove the pastry cream from the heat and stir in the vanilla and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust vanilla and salt levels if needed.
If you're adding the whipped cream, let the pastry cream cool completely before you start whipping the cream. To whip the cream, combine the heavy whipping cream and 2 tbsp sugar in a bowl and whip with either a hand mixer or a whisk until it forms soft peaks. Fold this mixture gently into the pastry cream to lighten it. You can now fill the puffs with this mixture. Enjoy!
Recipe is a variation of my Chocolate Eclairs recipe
Disclosure: this post contains an Amazon affiliate link.