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Cream Puffs

Cream puffs!! Crisp pastry shells filled with light and airy vanilla pastry cream and topped with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. A classic!

Cream puffs beauty shot

Do you know why Pate a Choux and Pastry Cream are “essential” recipes?

Those two recipes are the base for these classic Vanilla Cream Puffs. But you can use the same two recipes with minor adjustments to make Chocolate Eclairs or Salted Caramel Eclairs. Let’s get started.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Pate a choux – Pipe or scoop the batter into small mounds.
  • Heavy cream – Whipped cream is folded into the pastry cream for a light and airy filling.
  • Confectioner’s sugar – For sweetness and as a pretty finishing touch.
  • Pastry cream – Is the custard base for the airy vanilla filling.

How to make Cream Puffs

a bowl of pate a choux batter.
  • Make the Pate a Choux batter according to the recipe.
a tray of unbaked cream puffs
  • Use a cookie scoop or piping bag to form mounds of choux batter. You can adjust the size of the puffs according to your taste.
a finger smoothing the top of an unbaked cream puff.
  • Dip your finger in water and use it to smooth the tops of the unbaked puffs.
  • Bake until well-puffed and golden brown. Turn off the oven.
a paring knife poking a hole in the bottom of a cream puff.
  • Use the tip of a paring knife to make a small hole in the bottom of each puff.
  • Return the tray to the still warm oven for 30 minutes to dry the interior and crisp the puffs.
a bowl of whipped cream and a bowl of pastry cream.
  • Whip the cream with the sugar.
  • Fold the whipped cream into the chilled pastry cream.
a pastry piping tip in a cream puff
  • Fill a piping bag fitted with a pastry tip with the vanilla cream.
  • Use the hole you made on the bottom of each puff to fill them with the cream.
a piping bag piping cream into a cream puff.
  • Alternately, you can slice the top off each puff. Pipe a swirl of cream into the puff. Then replace the top.
  • Sprinkle the puffs with powdered sugar and serve.

Recipe FAQs

What is cream puff filling made of?

Typically, cream puffs are filled with Vanilla Pastry Cream. You can lighten the filling with whipped cream for an airy and rich filling.

When should you fill cream puffs?

It’s best to fill the cream puffs within a few hours of serving. They will keep in the refrigerator for a few days but the shell will soften within 4-5 hours after filling.

What’s the difference between cream puff and profiterole?

Cream puffs are filled with pastry cream, whipped cream, or a combination of the two. Profiteroles are often filled with ice cream but can also be filled with savory fillings like cream cheese or goat cheese.

Why did my cream puffs collapse? 

If you don’t cook the base long enough the puffs may not rise properly in the oven. After adding the flour cook the batter until it easily forms a cohesive mass. Under baking the puffs can also cause them to collapse. Bake until they are well-browned and crisp.

Why are my cream puffs soggy inside?

As the cream puffs bake they rise because the high moisture in the batter creates steam. If that steam stays in the puffs it can make the interior soggy. After baking the cream puffs turn off the oven, make a small hole in each puff and return the baking tray to the still-warm oven for 30 minutes. This will help dry out the interior and make the shell extra crisp.

beauty shot cream puffs
Pate a Choux

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beauty shot cream puffs
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4.75 from 4 reviews

Cream Puff Recipe

Delicate Choux Pastry filled with vanilla pastry cream lightened with whipped cream.
Prep Time1 hr
Bake Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
24 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

Bake the Cream Puffs

  • Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Line a ½ sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • Scoop or pipe 1 ½" mounds of batter onto the sheet pan, spaced about 2" apart. Use a wet fingertip to tamp down any points on top of the batter rounds. You can adjust the size of the cream puffs by scooping larger or smaller mounds of batter.
    1 recipe pate a choux
  • Bake until well puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the puffs from the oven and turn off the heat. Use a small paring knife to form a small hole in the bottom of each puff. Return the tray to the still warm (turned off) oven and allow the puffs to dry for at least 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature before filling.

Make the filling & Assemble

  • Whip the cream with the powdered sugar. Fold the cream into the pastry cream in two batches. Don't overstir! Scoop the cream into a pastry bag fitted with a small, plain tip. Pipe the filling into the cream puffs, making sure each puff is completely filled.
    8 ounces heavy cream, 1 ounce confectioner's sugar, 1 recipe pastry cream
  • Refrigerate until serving. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

Equipment

Disposable Decorating Bags
Decorating Icing Tips
Cookie Scoop

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Notes

The empty puffs can be stored at room temperature for several days or packed into freezer bags and frozen for up to a month. Rewarm in a 200F oven to re-crisp the shells before filling. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1each | Calories: 118kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 22mg | Potassium: 58mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 182IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 0.1mg
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