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Cream Puffs

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Level: Intermediate

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Description

These cream puffs are the ultimate pastry-case dessert to make at home. The crisp light shells are the perfect complement to the thick whipped pastry cream.

Makes 12 cream puffs.

From Bridget Edwards of Bake at 350.

Ingredients

  • FOR THE PASTRY CREAM:
  • 3 cups Whole Milk, Divided
  • ¼ cups Cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon Unbleached All-purpose Flour
  • 4  Egg Yolks
  • ¾ cups Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons Kosher Or Fine Sea Salt
  • ½  Vanilla Bean
  • 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
  • FOR THE CREAM PUFF SHELLS (CHOUX PASTRY):
  • 1 cup Water
  • ½ cups Unsalted Butter
  • ¼ teaspoons Kosher Or Fine Sea Salt
  • 1 cup Unbleached All-purpose Flour
  • 4  Eggs, Or As Needed
  • FOR THE SWEETENED WHIPPED CREAM:
  • ¾ cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

Preparation

For the pastry cream:
In a large bowl, whisk 1/4 cup milk, cornstarch, flour, and egg yolks. Set aside.

Combine remaining 2 3/4 cups milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add seeds and vanilla pod to the pan. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling. Remove from heat.

Gradually whisk about half of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Heat on medium heat, constantly stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds then remove from heat.

Pour the mixture through a fine sieve placed over a bowl. Once the cream has gone through the sieve, stir in the butter until melted and combined.

Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream and refrigerate until chilled, several hours. Whisk before using.

For the cream puff shells (choux pastry):
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, heat water, butter, and salt until mixture comes to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Remove pan from heat, add flour all at once, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Once all of the flour is incorporated, place the pan back over medium-high heat. Stir continuously for 2–3 minutes until dough is smooth, shiny, and is pulling away from the edges of the pan.

Place dough into a bowl of an electric mixer and let cool for 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl each time. Beat until egg is fully incorporated. After the third egg, the mixture will start to look fluffy when beaten. Before adding the fourth egg, check the batter. Lift a silicone spatula with the batter over the bowl. If the batter hangs off the spatula in a V-shape, there’s no need to add the final egg. If not, add the egg and beat until fluffy.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Pipe the batter into 12 rounds on the prepared cookie sheet. With a wet finger, tap down any peaks on top.

Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350ºF and bake for 15 minutes more. The batter should have risen and puffed. Turn off the oven, crack the door, and let the puffs rest in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove the puffs from the oven, gently lift off of the sheet, and place on a wire cooling rack. Pierce the side of each with a paring knife to allow steam to release. Let cool completely before filling.

For the sweetened whipped cream:
Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue whipping the cream until stiff peaks form.

To assemble the cream puffs:
Whisk the cooled pastry cream. Fold in the whipped cream until combined. Place cream in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.

Cut the cream puffs in half. Pipe the cream generously on the bottom half. Place the top half on the cream. Dust with powdered sugar. (Alternately, spoon the cream into the cut shell.)

Best served soon after filling, cream puffs may be stored in the refrigerator. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

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