I’ve peered into many a bakery case and mustered up enough willpower to keep on walking. But heaven help me if I catch sight of a cream puff. Here's the recipe.
I’ve peered into many a bakery case and mustered up enough willpower to keep on walking. But heaven help me if I catch sight of a cream puff.
Those delicate pastries mounded with whipped cream stop me in my tracks every time. My French heritage may explain why I find these treats so irresistible.
Profiteroles (pruh-FIHT-uh-rohls), as they are called in France, originated there with simple dough called choux pastry. The dough is a modest mixture of just five ingredients with a surprising outcome. When it bakes, it puffs up, creating an airy hole in the center, which can be filled with a sweet or savory filling.
In France, the dough often is made to resemble swans, with swirls of cream filling piped within. Here, we tend to prefer our puffs round, with cream piled between a top and bottom, topped with chocolate ganache or a dusting of powdered sugar.
Cream puffs look like the sophisticated work of a French pastry chef, and that pastry chef can be you.
I recently checked these off my “50 by 50” list, and they really were a no-brainer. I used a recipe from King Arthur Flour, and my puffs definitely were bakery-case worthy.
Make them once and you will be inspired to get creative. Flavor the cream filling with chocolate or mocha or fruit flavors, or forgo it altogether and use eclair custard, ice cream, pudding or mousse. Or go savory –– egg salad and chicken salad make delightful fillings for a luncheon. Or try salmon, crab or feta-olive filling for an appetizer dish.
However you adapt your puffs, this simple recipe is one that clearly impresses folks. Brace yourself for a chorus of “ooh, la la.”
Classic Cream Puffs
Cream filling:2 1/4 cups (18 ounces) heavy cream or whipping cream 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1/3 cup sugar 5 teaspoons Instant ClearJel (optional)*
Puff shells:1 cup (8 ounces) water 1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into parts 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) unbleached, all-purpose flour 4 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
Filling: Pour the cream into a mixing bowl, and add the vanilla. Mix sugar and ClearJel, if using, then sprinkle over the cream. Whip on high speed until soft peaks form, and refrigerate until needed.
Shells: Combine water, butter and salt in a medium-size saucepan. Heat until butter has melted, and bring to a rolling boil.
Remove pan from heat. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Return pan to burner and cook over medium heat, stirring all the while, until mixture smoothes out and follows the spoon around the pan; this should take less than a minute. Remove pan from heat, and let mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
Transfer dough to a mixer, and beat in eggs one at a time. Beat for at least 2 minutes after adding the last egg. Using a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop, drop dough onto prepared baking sheets 3 inches apart to allow for expansion.
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Make a small slit in the end of each puff and return to the oven for 5 minutes, to allow the steam to escape. Cool on racks.
Cut each puff around its equator, making a base and a lid. Fill the base with whipped cream (use spoon or pastry bag, if desired). Place the lid on top. Dust with confectioners' sugar or drizzle with ganache.
Serve immediately or refrigerate for several hours.
Yields about 20 cream puffs.
*ClearJel stabilizes the whipped cream, meaning you can make it up to two days ahead of time, then fill puffs when you are ready to serve.
Notes: I did not use ClearJel. Recipe feedback from the King Arthur website included replacing the salt with sugar to make the dough a little sweeter.
A tip for freezing: Fill with cream, drizzle chocolate on the inside and top, then store and freeze.
If you like chocolate ganache for a garnish, scald 1 cup heavy cream, add 2 cups mini chocolate chips, whisk to melt. Let cool enough to spoon or drizzle.
— King Arthur Flour