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Conquering Cream Puffs

Conquering Cream Puffs

cream puff

Baking legend holds that cream puffs originated in Denmark and were made in France before finding their way to America’s kitchens. Popular throughout the last several decades, cream puffs are a culinary classic that any baker should be familiar with.

Cream puffs are crisp, hollow pastry shells made from dough called choux (pronounced shoo) pastry. This French named pastry is also used to make other baked specialties such as éclairs, gougere and profiteroles.

Cream puffs are so simple because they only require four ingredients you probably have on hand – water, butter, flour and eggs. The key to success is in blending these elements together in a timely manner.

new ingredients

Create this easy pastry by simply combining flour with boiling water and melted butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Heat the butter and water just until the butter is melted and the water has come to a full boil. Stir in the flour, being careful not to over mix it. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon just until it forms a ball.

forming ball

Remove the pan from the heat and beat in eggs until the mixture is thickened and becomes very shiny and smooth. Make sure to beat in the eggs vigorously, one at a time, using a wooden spoon or wire whisk.

stiring eggs

The pastry has been sufficiently beaten when it pulls away from the sides of the pan in a ball.

egg ball

During baking, the eggs make the pastry puff into irregular domes to create cream puffs.

puffs on sheet

After baking the puffs are split, hollowed out and can then be filled with custard, whipped cream, ice cream or many other fillings and served as a dessert. They can also be sprinkled with powdered sugar or drizzled with a glaze.

finished cream puff

Cream puffs can also be filled with a savory mixture such as chicken salad and served as a main dish or made into a miniature size as an appetizer.

savory filling

Here are some additional cream puff tips:

  • When dropping cream puff dough onto baking sheet, push dough off spoon with a spatula or second spoon so puffs will stay round. Do not add more dough to the original mound. The dough can also be piped to form a ring or other shape before baking.
  • While puffs are hot, carefully split each with a serrated knife. Then, with a fork, gently remove any soft dough inside the puff, leaving a crisp shell.
  • Store baked cream puff shells in an airtight plastic container or resealable plastic food bag to prevent them from drying out. Refrigerate shells and use them within 24 hours.
  • Baked cream puff shells can be frozen for up to 2 months in a resealable plastic freezer bag. The shells only take 5 to 10 minutes to thaw at room temperature.
  • Do not fill cream puffs until they are completely cooled. After they are filled, refrigerate at once, but don’t let them stand in the refrigerator longer than an hour or two or they may soften.

Now that you know all the secrets of making great cream puffs, try our recipe for Bunny Cream Puffs. This fun, spring recipe idea takes cream puffs to a new creative level! Have fun decorating them with your kids. Many types of fillings and candy will work as decorations.

bunny puffs

After conquering cream puffs, it is easy to experiment with different fillings. Try filling them with ice cream, then drizzle with chocolate sauce and garnish with crushed peppermint candy. This elegant looking dessert was very simple to prepare. Just vary the flavor of ice cream and choose a different garnish for different seasons. Think of making cream puffs the next time you need an easy dessert idea.

Christmas puff
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Great easy recipe to follow but you did not tell what temp to bake at and how long. Pls let us no,

Posted March 10, 2016 by Lucy
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Mallory
Hi Lucy, if you click the underlined recipe name in the blog post, it will take you to the detailed recipe where it gives you ingredient amounts and baking directions. Happy baking!
Posted March 18, 2016

I was looking for a spice to add to the cream puff recipe when filling with chicken salad any suggestions . I felt the cream puff was bland when using chicken salad . Thanks

Posted August 17, 2015 by Sue

What is the best way to freeze cream puffs now so I will have them ready for Xmas?

Posted November 09, 2014 by Joyce
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Cream puff pastry freezes well. You need to make sure you allow enough room for each cream puff so they do not get squashed or break in the plastic freezer container. Place them in a single layer in the container and then cover and freeze. Before using the cream puffs remember to let them thaw before filling.
Posted November 10, 2014

From the Test Kitchens... It is fun to use cake pans that are formed into shapes such as a lamb shaped pan. I have seen these pans at cake decorating stores or craft stores with a cake and cookie baking section. Another idea is to search the internet for results so you can purchase the pan online.

Posted April 29, 2011 by Cindy

I was in a resale store and found a "Lamb" shaped cake pan, when I was younger, my mother would bake a Lamb shaped cake,frosted w/ white Icing and covered w/ coconut.., after completion the cake was the center of the Easter tray. I would like to attempt baking one of these, The pan is a two piece unit if you can Help.

Posted April 03, 2011 by Claude

From the Test Kitchens... Thanks for your comment. I encourage you to check out the blog. There is lots of great information. Nearly everyday we post some information and then it is archived so it is easy to find later. Have fun making cream puffs!

Posted April 03, 2011 by Cindy

OMGosh! I can't believe I just posted my Spring baking memory of my Mom making Cream Puffs with me when I was little!!! I have all of her recipes except for her cream puffs. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe and all of the variations for serving them! I can't wait to make them with my daughters who have never tasted them. I need to follow your blog to find out what other goodies I'm missing out on!

Posted April 02, 2011 by Andi