Aaah the cream puff or their more proper description, a pate a choux pastry filled with chantilly cream! Wow, that made me sound really fancy didn’t it?! I have been intimidated of even trying to make these little puffs from heaven, but after a few tweaks to my recipe I am proud to say that yes….I HAVE CONQUERED THE CREAM PUFF!! Believe me, if you want first time success with making your own cream puffs, you NEED this recipe! No fancy ingredients or utensils required, just the longing for a cream filled pastry made with love.
What is choux pastry, or pate a choux? It’s a fancy shmancy french word for a light pastry dough used to make cream puffs, eclairs, croquembouches, etc…you get the point;) The special characteristic of this pastry dough is that it puffs up beautifully creating perfect shells that are hollow inside so that you can fill them with virtually anything! The rise that occurs when cooking pate a choux pastries is all about steam. The dough has a high water content and we are relying on this to create the airiness in the final product.
What is chantilly cream? Why it’s an embellished way of saying sweetened whipping cream that is usually flavored with vanilla. You can use a number of different fillings, such as, vanilla or chocolate pudding, but I really like the combo of the airy pastry with the lightly sweetened vanilla cream the best! Top with powdered sugar or chocolate drizzle mmmmmm…..
My cream puff intimidation really came from just looking at the name “pate a choux with chantilly cream”. Once I figured out what the heck it was, I realized that it wasn’t so scary after all. Then, I made them & became aware at just how easy they truly are to make…..it’s become dangerous! I’m fairly certain that I’m going to be on a cream puff kick for the next month or so! My husband will be happy that I have finally moved on from my pecan pie obsession;)
The trick to a beautifully puffed cream puff comes from the sneaky oven trick that is outlined in the instructions below. I hope you enjoy these beauties as much as we do! Enjoy!
Makes about 16 Large Cream Puffs
For the Shells
•1 cup water
•1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
•large pinch salt
•3 TBSP granulated sugar
•1 cup all-purpose flour
•4 large eggs
For the Cream Chantilly
•1½ cups heavy cream
•3 TBSP powdered sugar
•1 tsp vanilla
For the Shells
Place water, butter, sugar, and salt in a sauce pot over medium high heat. Stir until it comes to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium. Add flour into the mixture all at once and stir quickly. Continue to stir and cook off some of the moisture in the dough until it pulls away from the sides and starts to form into a ball. It doesn’t take long, about a minute.
Place dough into a bowl & let it cool for about 5 minutes.
With a stand or hand mixer, the mixer, add eggs in one at a time on medium speed. Make sure that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. The batter will look smooth when ready. You can mix the batter by hand if you don’t have a mixer, it just takes a bit longer;)
Place batter in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip or a zip lock bag with the tip cut off.
Preheat oven to 425F & Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Hold the pastry bag over the baking sheet and squeeze over one area until you have about a 2 inch round. Release the pressure from the bag and pull up to release the dough mound. The little peak on top can be smoothed out with a wet fingertip if you would like. Keep the mounds about 1 1/2 inches apart so they have adequate room to puff!
Place the baking sheet in the oven and turn to heat up to 450F. (the active heat makes them get that height that I was talking about earlier) Bake for 10 minutes (without opening the oven) then drop the heat down to 350F and bake for 14-17 more minutes until the shells are crispy on the outside and set.
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 or zip lock bag with tip snipped off with the cream, and pipe into the bottom of the puffs until filled. If you don’t want to fill them with a bag, then you can easily cut them in half and serve them sandwich style!
Personally, I like them filled so that when you bite into them it’s a surprise in your mouth! If you are left with any extra cream, you can place in refrigerator for use later on waffles or hot cocoa. I usually have 6 little eyes staring at me when I’m in the kitchen so I like to share;) Cheers!
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