I remember the first time I bit into a cream puff (profiterole actually). I was in Spain on a summer trip as a college student. Some friends and I went out for a special meal at a small Italian cafe. The cafe was in an open plaza filled with flower stands and cafe tables. We enjoyed a meal of pasta al forno then ordered the profiteroles for dessert. Not even knowing what a profiterole was, we were daring and unexposed to so much of what the world has to offer. Little did we know that we were about about to engage in a life changing bite. I took my spoon and scooped up more than my share of one of the puffs filled with ice cream and swimming in chocolate sauce. Then another bite, then another. I was quickly smitten with the slightly crisp outer pastry filled with creamy vanilla ice cream and warm chocolate sauce. That night I declared profiteroles to me my favorite dessert of all time.
Coming back from abroad I hardly heard the word profiterole again except at the occasional party when someone would bring out it’s sister pastry (usually bought from the frozen food isle and still delicious) the cream puff. So you can imagine how excited I was to hear that my friend Barbara was writing a whole cookbook on the subject!
I’m so proud of my dear friend Barbara for all of her hard work putting together a cookbook on Cream Puffs. Her book titled, Dream Puffs, is now available online and go in depth into the three main ways to use pâte à choux dough – cream puffs, eclairs, and profiteroles. As pâte à choux dough is one of the harder french pastries to master I can only imagine all of the experimenting that Barbara went though to end with such a beautiful and well written book on the subject. If you’ve never made a cream puff or dibbled in pâte à choux dough before, now is your time because the step by step directions in the Dream Puffs cookbook are excellent and easy to follow!
Pâte à choux dough was my favorite to learn about in culinary school. I love that you make the dough on the stove top and how it pulls away from the pan letting you know that it’s ready for the next step.
Putting dough into a pastry bag, or anything for that matter, is always hard. I like to place my pastry bag, already fitted with the right tip, into a large glass. Then, I roll the edges of the bag over the glass. I use a spatula to spoon out the dough into the bag, scraping the edge of the spatula against the rim of the glass. Then tightly roll up the end of the bag, squeezing out any excess air before starting to pipe out your dough.
Another little tip for you – I trace out the perfect circle on the back side of the parchment so that my puffs are even. Maybe you’re better at just eyeing it than me but if you’re not, having the circles traced out on the back is definitely helpful.
Picking a recipe to try out first from Barbara’s book was easy. For christmas eve every year we like to make a mexican dinner complete with churros so Barbara’s recipe for Churro Cream Puffs was the one I knew I had to try. Her churro cream puffs are filled with spiced whip cream and glazed with honey then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. One glance at the ingredients and I knew these would be killer for a good holiday party!
We ended up bringing these to the La Barba annual Christmas party and they were gone before dinner even hit the table. We’ll be making another batch for Christmas Eve and I think these would also make a great addition to any New Years Eve party spread.
You can download Barbara’s Dream Puffs Cookbook online here. Also, you’ll want to check out her behind the scenes post on how her cookbook was made, photographed and styled.
Churro Cream Puffs
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
- 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 1 Simple Pâte à Choux Recipe listed below
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- Pinch of table salt
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
Pâte à Choux
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter cut into 6 pieces
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. table salt
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 425°. Lightly grease or line 1 half sheet size baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the parchment paper over and trace out 24 circles (1 1/2 inches in diameter) using the larger end of a pastry tip to trace or whatever small circle near that size that you can find, then flip the parchment back over. Measure flour and set aside.
- Bring butter, sugar, salt, and 3/4 cup water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Immediately remove from heat, and quickly stir in flour all at once. Return to heat, and stir with a wooden spoon for 1 to 2 minutes, or until dough is smooth and forms a ball. Transfer dough to the bowl of an electric mixer, and let cool 5 minutes.
- Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until mixture is smooth and glossy. Spoon dough into a pastry bag fitted with a tip. (Use a 5/8-inch plain tip). I like to place my pastry bag in a large glass then fold the ends over the edges of the cup so I can use a spatula to scoop the dough into the pastry bag, using the edge of the glass to get the dough off of the spatula and into the bag.
- Pipe dough onto prepared pans into 1 1/2-inch rounds (1 1/2 inches high). Smooth out peaks and round tops with a moistened finger.
- Bake at 425° for 5 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 375°, and bake 25 minutes or until puffy. Turn oven off; let shells stand in closed oven 10 minutes. Remove from baking sheets to wire racks, and cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Combine 1 tsp. cinnamon and granulated sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Microwave honey in a small microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 15-20 seconds or just until it starts to bubble. Brush tops of cooled cream puffs with honey, and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place cream puffs in a single layer on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 5 minutes. Let cool again 15-30 minutes.
- Whisk together cream and salt in a large bowl. Beat cream mixture at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar and remaining 1 tsp. cinnamon, and beat until stiff peaks form. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
- Spoon whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Pierce the bottom of each cream puff with a knife to create a small hole. Insert the pastry tip, and fill with whipped cream.