Cream puffs have always been a family favorite. When I was a kid, my aunt would make them super fresh and deliver it to a bunch of our family members. It’s definitely a dessert that brings back great memories, and because of that, I have great creamistry with it.
It essentially comprises of a pastry cream and a French-style pastry known as Pâte à Choux. The pastry cream is a simple stove-top mixture that can be used for a variety of other types of dessert such as a fruit tart or Strawberry + Cream Custard Puff Pastry.
Pâte à Choux (Pâte= dough/paste, Choux = cabbage) is a special kind of batter (composed mainly of water, butter, flour, and eggs) that is first cooked on the stove-top. What results is a semi-stiff batter that is then re-moisturized by the individual addition of eggs, which acts as the leavening agent. Upon placing it in the oven, the heat causes the moisture to steam up and give rise to the pastry, leaving a hollow shell inside for the pastry cream.
Pâte à Choux is very versatile, and can also be used for eclairs and profiteroles!
Ingredients (Good for about 25 cream puffs)
For Cream Filling
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/4th cup corn starch
-2 cups whole milk
-4 egg yolks
-2 tbsp butter
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-Pinch of kosher salt
For Pâte à Choux
-1 stick of unsalted butter
-1 cup of water
-1 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp table salt
-1 cup all-purpose flour
For Cream Filling
1) Add sugar, corn starch, and kosher salt into a sauce pan or pot, and mix together
2) Add milk and egg yolk into a mixing bowl and whisk together
3) Set heat to medium and slowly pour the milk and egg yolk mix into the pot, while continuously whisking
4) Add the butter to the pot
5) Whisk and allow the mix to come to a boil
6) Once boiling, continue to whisk for 1 minute while boiling. The cream should start thickening
7) After a minute, take pan off the heat and add vanilla extract and mix
8) Transfer the cream onto a bowl through a sieve
9) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Ensure that the plastic wrap is physically touching the cream to avoid a solid shell-formation on the top.
10) Store in a fridge for at least 1.5 hours covered
For Pâte à Choux
1) Preheat oven to 375°F
2) Heat a medium sauce-pan to medium-high heat. Add butter, sugar, salt, and water
3) Once pot is boiling, stir in flour and continuously stir for about 3 minutes. Your dough should form and a thin film may form at the bottom of the pan
4) Remove the dough from the pot into a bowl. Allow to cool for approx 5-8 minutes. If you don’t wait for it to cool, your eggs may start cooking in the dough, and that is an egg-celent way to mess it up.
5) When the dough is cooled, begin adding each egg one at time, and mix with a wooden spoon. When you add the egg, the dough may come apart into pieces. Just keep mixing until the dough forms back together. Add the next egg after the dough forms back together.
6) After the dough forms together after mixing the egg, gauge to see if the dough is moisturized enough. You can tell by touching the surface of the dough with your finger or the mixing spoon. If a nice peak forms, it is ready.
7) Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place the dough in a piping bag and begin piping circles onto the parchment paper. I made approx circular swirls approx two inches in diameter for bigger puffs.
8) Place the baking pan into the pre-heated oven and allow to cook for approx 28 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown.
9) After baking, take the pan out and allow the puff pastries to cool
10) Make a small “X” indentation on the side of the puff and pipe in chilled pastry cream. Alternatively, you can also cut the puff 3/4ths the way through and spoon in the pastry cream.
-Cooking your dough on the stove-top for too long can evaporate too much water, and leave your dough to be on the dry side. If this happens, you can add more eggs to re-introduce moisture to the dough
-If your dough is too runny, make a smaller batch of dough on the stove-top and slow add to the original dough until the right consistency is achieved
-Using a larger piping bag tip can help pipe the dough easier onto the baking sheet.
-If you don’t allow the pastries to cool sufficiently, it may melt your custard
-Using an egg wash can help bring out better color for your cream puff