Ever since I tasted a profiterol while sitting at a cosy little cafe in Spain I’ve been wanting to learn how to make these tasty little cream puffs! My friend Haley and I took on the challenge together, and with her expertise along with a trusty copy of Mastering the Art of French cooking, we made the most beautiful cream puffs you’ve ever laid eyes on. I can’t hardly wait to package some of these up for the most delicious edible Christmas gift!
Making cream puffs is actually much easier than it seems, although I will say that it is best to have two sets of hands for this baking project. We made two types of pastry cream, a traditional vanilla and a ginger spice cream. The ginger spice cream was especially festive for a holiday treat! They also freeze well, making the perfect ‘make-ahead’ holiday dessert for a party.
After we were done I couldn’t help but remember some of the comments you made on the Mist Project post about edible landscapes. I imagine cream puffs as puffy clouds, heavy with snow over the mountain tops of Utah. Maybe the chef at Mist will serve up a cloudy day as one of his courses.
Now, lets get to the details of how to make a Cream Puff…
First, start by making the pastry cream. Bring half and half, to a boil in a small pan. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks and sugar together until light and creamy, then whisk in flour. Temper the egg mixture b adding the half and half slowly to the egg mixture while continuously whisking. Wash out pan and return mixture to pan. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Transfer to a bowl and stir in vanilla and butter. Once you’re done cover the cream with plastic wrap, letting the plastic touch the cream to prevent it from getting a skin on the top layer. Then refrigerate while making the pâte à choux (the pastry dough).
For the pâte à choux recipe, you can visit Haley’s blog. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix all ingredients together then spoon into a pastry bag with a large opening at the end. Swirl the dough into 1.5 inch rounds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or greased. Brush with egg wash then bake for about 20 minutes, until golden and hollow, or a little over (depending on the size of the puffs). **Turn oven off and prop door open for 10 minutes before removing from the oven (to let the pastries dry out and prevent them from falling).
Whip 1 cup of heavy cream until peaks start to form then add 1/4 cup of sugar. Stir in vanilla. Folk this into the pastry cream.
Once the pastry puffs are cool, fill another pastry bag with pastry cream/whipped cream mixture with a smaller tip. Insert the tip into the bottom flax side of the puff and squeeze the cream into the puffs carefully.
Cream Puff Recipe
- 1 cup water
- 6 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup flour
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups half and half
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
for Pâte à Choux (cream puff dough):
for pastry cream
for ginger spice pastry cream
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, a silicone baking mat (works best) or grease WELL, so that your puffs don't stick.
- Bring water, butter, salt, and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan until all of the butter is melted.
- Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once. Beat vigorously until completely combined. Return to heat and stir over medium-high heat until the mixture pulls away from the side of the pan.
- Remove from heat. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking (it helps to have a friend help you during this step!). Stir until completely combined.
- Spoon warm batter into a pastry bag fitted with a medium to large round tip. Pipe circles (1 1/2 to 2 in) on the lined baking sheet, like below. (Note: they will spread very little so they can be placed fairly close together)
- Bake about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow-sounding when the bottom of the puff is tapped (this is VERY important so that they don't sink).
- When they are done baking turn the oven off and prop the door open for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. (This is important so the puffs don't collapse). Let cool.
- While the pastry dough is baking, start the pastry cream recipe below.
- Bring half and half to a boil in a small pan. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks and sugar together until light and creamy, then whisk in flour. Temper the egg mixture by adding the half and half slowly to the egg mixture while continuously whisking. Wash out pan then return mixture to pan. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Transfer to a bowl and stir in vanilla and butter. Once you're done cover the cream with plastic wrap, letting the plastic touch the cream to prevent it from getting a skin on the top layer. Then refrigerate until the pâte à choux (the pastry dough) is finished baking.
- Whip 1 cup of heavy cream until peaks start to form then add 1/4 cup of sugar. Stir in vanilla. Fold this into the pastry cream. Carefully stir in the ginger and cinnamon for the Ginger Spice version.
- Fill a pastry bag (with a smaller circle tip) with pastry cream/whipped cream mixture. Insert the tip into the bottom flat side of the puff and squeeze the cream into the puffs carefully. You can also use a small tip of a cake ball stick (lollypop stick or skewer) to make the hole in the bottom of the puff. Squeeze the cream into the puffs until they feel heavy and full.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve OR freeze until you're ready to serve.
by Haley Burke and Mastering the Art of French Cooking