Cream puffs and eclairs are both decadent, fancy looking choux pastry desserts that are much easier to make than they look. Come on in to my virtual kitchen and learn how to make choux pastry from scratch!
I’ve been a bad girl… a very bad girl. I was supposed to clean the kitchen this morning. Instead, I dirtied a few more dishes by making cream puffs shells. Then I made whipped cream to fill the shells with. *sigh*
What is Choux Pastry?
A cream puff starts with a shell, which is called choux (pronounced ‘shoo’) pastry.
Choux pastry, also known as pâte à choux (paht ah shoo), choux, or eclair paste, isn’t really a dough in the literal sense. Choux is more of a thick paste, made on the stove top, from a roux, with eggs added to it.
The dough for cream puffs or eclairs is formed onto a baking sheet, (usually piped through a pastry tip into different shapes) and baked. Choux pastry can be used to make lots of delicious sweet and savory creations!
Desserts made from Choux
Common desserts made from choux, most of which are French in origin, include:
- cream puffs
- Paris Brest
- Saint Honoré
Choux pastry can be filled with whipped cream, to make cream puffs, or you can make up a batch of sinfully delicious pastry cream, then indulge in eclairs!
The news gets worse, though. The kitchen is still dirty, and I had cream puffs and eclairs for breakfast.
What is appropriate penance for gluttony?
If it’s any consolation, I created this cream puffs recipe and made a batch of pastry cream to fill them with, all for you. You’re welcome.
Behold the yummi goodness!
After indulging in cream puffs and eclairs, you can join the gym, or just do what I did, and buy an extra pair of stretchy pants.
The point is, you need to jump in and make this recipe for cream puffs. For any reason whatsoever!
For a beautiful finishing touch, add a dusting of powdered sugar and a drizzle of homemade chocolate ganache to drizzle over the tops of the cream puffs.
How to Make Cream Puffs and Eclairs
Cream Puffs and Eclairs
FOR THE SHELLS (Pate-A-Choux)
- 8 oz Whole Milk
- 8 oz Water
- 8 oz Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 11 oz bread flour
- 10 to 12 large eggs
FOR THE PASTRY CREAM
- 16 oz whole milk
- 4 oz granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2.5 Tablespoons (1.5 oz.) cake flour, or corn starch (flour is best if you’ll be freezing the choux)
- 2 Tablespoons (1 oz) VERY COLD salted butter
FOR THE SHELLS (Pate-A-Choux)
- Heat oven to 375 F (350 F. if using a convection oven)
- Combine water, milk, salt and butter in a deep saucepan (2 or 3 quart) and cook over medium heat until butter is melted
- Using a wooden spoon, vigorously stir in flour and keep stirring until mixture cleans the sides of the pan and forms somewhat of a ball.
- Transfer into the bowl of a 5 quart stand mixer outfitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on first speed for 4-5 minutes, or until you can comfortably hold your hand on the bottom of the bowl.
- Slowly add the eggs one or two at a time, waiting between each addition for the eggs to be partially incorporated. The amount of eggs added depends on the ambient and outside humidity and how much the humidity has affected the flour, so hold back on a couple of the eggs until touching the dough to see if its sticky.
- When you turn the mixer off, watch the paddle- if the batter/dough "flows" like thick lava"- you're there!
- Pipe into circles onto parchment lined sheet pans.
- Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes, then reduce oven to 350 F. and bake until the pastries are dry and crisp. It will take approximately 25 minutes for full sized cream puffs and about 15 minutes for small ones.
- Cool completely, then fill with whipped cream, pastry cream, or savory fillings of your choice.
FOR THE PASTRY CREAM:
- In a heavy saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until it steeps (you'll see small puffs of steam and tiny bubbles will form around the edges of the pan). Don't allow the milk to boil.
- In a stainless steel bowl, whisk together the sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks. Allow the yolks to sit for a few minutes; the sugar will break down the yolks, making them more liquid.
- Whisk the cake flour (or cornstarch) into the yolk mixture.
- Slowly temper the hot milk into the yolk mixture while constantly whisking.
- Pour the custard back into a CLEAN heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat, constantly whisking with one hand, while scraping the sides and bottom of the pot with a heat resistant rubber spatula with your other hand.
- Cook the custard until you can see lines from the whisk.
- Place the saucepan onto an ice bath (ice with just a LITTLE water) and immediately whisk in the COLD butter. Whisk every few minutes to help speed up the cooling process.
- Use immediately or store in the cooler with plastic wrap set directly on top of the pastry cream (to prevent a skin from forming).