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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cream Puffs (from scratch)

Cream Puffs (from scratch)
So like...sometimes it's hard to choose between two things you love.
Hard rock and boy bands.
Kisses or hugs.
Chocolate or cookies.
Cream puffs with pastry cream or cream puffs with whipped cream.

Ya know?
Cream Puffs (from scratch)
I simultaneously have loved both types of cream puffs, while also never being fully pleased with either.

Turns out you totally don't need to choose at all.
This is THE BEST (I'm like...pretty sure) cream puff recipe, evah!

I was always intimidated by the idea of trying to make a cream puff recipe, because they seemed super fancy and like professional and such (everyone always says they're easy but I was still skeptical). Call me skeptic no more. These actually were pretty easy (aside from the multiple steps, but whatever! If you're feeling lazy just make boxed vanilla pudding and buy whipped cream to fill these. There. Happy?)
Cream Puffs (from scratch)
The result is a super light and airy pâte à choux and a delightful contrast of the rich pastry cream and light whipped cream. These are best fresh as far as texture for the pâte à choux goes, but I prefer my cream puffs chilled so I just ate em leftover, sogginess be damned! (It's really not bad, and they were super tasty!) Michael said he's not a huge fan of cream puffs, but when I caught him sneaking some and repeated that back to him he said that these he liked. He's nice :)

So are these cream puffs. Make them. You'll be sad you've lived this long without em!

Cream Puffs

Cream Puffs (from scratch)
Makes approximately 18 cream puffs
Pastry Cream
  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (or 5.4 oz.) bread flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
Whipped Cream
  • 1 and 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • Optional-chocolate sauce and/or powdered sugar
Pastry Cream
Cream Puffs (from scratch)
  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat bring milk and cream to a boil. 
  • Meanwhile, whisk together sugar, eggs, cornstarch, flour, and salt until blended and pale (about 1 minute).
  • Remove saucepan as soon as the hot cream mixture becomes bubbly and, while continuously whisking, pour 2/3 cup of hot cream into the bowl of other ingredients, whisk until combined and then pour the entire bowl back into the saucepan with the rest of the hot cream, continuously stirring.
  • Heat over medium-low heat and, whisking constantly, cook until thickened-about 4 minutes (it will be a very thick, pudding texture). 
  • Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Press through a strainer into a heatproof bowl.
  • Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly over the entire surface of the pastry cream to keep a skin from forming. 
  • Chill for 2 hours, until cold (do not stir during this chilling time!)
Cream Puffs (from scratch)
  • During the last hour of the pastry cream's chilling time, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and prepare baking sheet(s) with silpat. 
  • In a medium saucepan bring water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil. Remove from heat and thoroughly mix in the flour.
  • Return to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Cool 5 minutes.
  • Stir in eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, stirring after each addition (can stir by hand or with a mixer. The mixture will seem yo separate, but it will come together if you keep stirring). 
  • Drop about 2 tbsp. at a time of the choux mixture onto prepared baking sheet(s) (I baked 1 tray at a time), about 2 in. apart.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Remove and transfer baked puffs to a wire rack to cool completely.
Whipped Cream
Cream Puffs (from scratch)
  • While the choux cools, pour heavy cream into a large, preferably chilled bowl, and beat with a mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add in the sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla extract and then continue to beat the cream until stiff peaks form.
  • Once the choux has cooled, cut each puff in half and fill with pastry cream, then whipped cream, and garnish if desired.
  • Best served immediately but can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator (you can also store all the components in the refrigerator and assemble at a later time).
Cream Puffs (from scratch)
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