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Cream puffs are simple and fancy at the same time.
Påte A Choux: Cream Puffs
That’s just the French name for cream puff pastry! I like it because it sounds so fancy!
The secret is that it just sounds fancy (and a bit pretentious) but it really isn’t hard at all. In fact, cream puffs are pretty easy to make and contains very few ingredients. And I bet you have them all too.
Curiously, cream puff pastry essentially is pretty bland and has a very neutral taste. It’s what you fill it with that provides the real flavor, and of course, any tasty finishing touches.
No Fancy Equipment Necessary
This pastry requires no fancy appliances. This you do by hand. With a wooden spoon. All you need is a 2-quart saucepan. That’s it.
You do need a strong arm since this is beaten by hand. I haven’t made these in yonks and I was curious to see if I could still manage it. I was pleased to see that I could since I am rather old and decrepit now. OK, my arm was tired, but I managed to do it. Therefore I consider it doable by anyone.
Here are the caveats for choux pastry–because there’s points you’ll reach where you think it’s not setting up right. Initially when you beat in the flour, it’ll look like a loose mess. Keep beating–it’ll come together. When it forms a ball and leaves the sides of the pan, that’s when you stop and let it cool for a few minutes. Now it’s time to beat in the eggs and they must be done one egg at a time. At first, it’ll look like a slimy mess. Keep beating because the egg will incorporate. Do the same with the rest of the eggs, but be aware that with each egg, the batter gets stiffer.
Baking And Filling
Cream puff pastry bakes at a relatively high temperature for a relatively long time. You don’t have to worry much about a bit of overbaking. Since there’s no sugar in the dough, they don’t brown rapidly. With this type of pastry, it’s better to slightly overbake rather than underbake.
Once they have cooled to room temperature, you have to remove the doughy filaments that are inside. You cut a little bit off the top (reserve that because you’re going to put it back once cream puff is filled) and just carefully pull that stuff out. I try to get as much out without puncturing the shell itself. And I confess; I eat that. It tastes like scrambled eggs actually so don’t waste it.
I filled these with real whipped cream that I stabilized with Instant Clear Jel. You could also use the cream cheese method for stabilizing whipped cream if you prefer. I use the Clear Jel because it’s flavorless. You could also use vanilla pudding as a filling.
- 1 cup water
- 4 oz unsalted butter
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs
Whipped Cream Filling:
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup confectioners icing sugar
- 1/2 tbs Instant Clear Jel
- Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
- Heat water and butter in a medium saucepan till it boils. Beat in the flour and keep beating until the dough leaves the sides of the pan. Cool for 5 minutes.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time (this is VERY important) and keep beating until the egg is incorporated and the dough looks smooth. Repeat with remaining eggs.
- Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared pan about 2-3 inches apart.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.
- Cut off about 1/3 off the top of each puff (reserve what you cut to place it back on top once the puff is filled) and remove doughy filaments from the inside of the puff.
- To make the stabilized whipped cream: Mix the confectioners sugar and the Instant Clear Jel; set aside
- Beat the cream until it becomes thick. Add the confectioners sugar mixture gradually and beat until cream begins to get stiff.
- Divide cream equally between each puff. Top with the reserved piece you cut off. Dust with confectioners sugar. You may also drizzle with melted chocolate if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.