There’s an element of magic to baking. Sure, it’s magic that can be explained by the combination of ingredients, heat, and science… but it feels like magic all the same.
In this year’s last Baking Bootcamp challenge with King Arthur Flour, we’re making magic with pâte à choux based Cream Puffs!
I know we’re hurtling towards the the holidays and the end of the year and it feels like time and energy is in short supply.
Luckily, this bootcamp challenge, this little bit of magic is deceptively easy!
Pâte à choux is a cooked dough that is mixed into an eggy batter, scooped onto baking sheets, and baked into golden puffs.
The eggs make the magic in this batter as they puff and expand in a hot oven, creating light, airy, eggy puffs.
Added bonus! Since we’re all short on time this time of year, these pâte à choux puffs can be made both sweet and savory meaning we can make appetizers and dessert from the same recipe! Cheddar chive appetizer gougères AND cream-filled and chocolate topped pastry puffs.
We’ve done a lot together in this Baking Bootcamp series! I’m so happy you’ve joined me! I think we have a lot to be proud of.
Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread // Apple Pie Biscuits // Gruyere and Green Olive Rolls // Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread // Chocolate Hazelnut Rolls with Quick Puff Pastry // Sourdough Everything Pretzels
Here’s how this works:
The idea is simple!
• Make these Cream Puffs (they’re sooooo good!) and take a picture of your creation!
• Follow @joythebaker and @kingarthurflour on Instagram
• Photograph your beautiful cream puffs and post them to Instagram with the hashtag #bakingbootcamp
• When you submit a photo, you’ll be entered to win a 1-year supply of King Arthur Flour and a Baking Essentials box valued at $250!! Official rules and details can be found here.
Pâte à choux dough is beautifully simple.
A pan for cooking because this dough is brought together from a simmer! It’s intimidating but just so easy!
Into a saucepan we add salt and water.
Cubed butter is added to the salt and water. The butter can be slightly cool or at room temperature. We’re going to melt it down to a simmer with the water and salt, so this one time we can not worry about the temperature of our butter.
Does this feel strange? It’ll come together. I promise.
When the water comes to a boil and the butter has melted, we add the flour, all at once.
Remove from the heat and stir. The dough will look wet and shaggy as it begins to come together.
And the mixture will smooth to a gloss and begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl as we stir.
It’s the start of a really beautiful dough. Steaming hot, before we add the eggs, so we need to give the dough time to release some of it’s heat.
I allow the dough to rest in the pan for 15 minutes, then place in the bowl of an electric stand mixer to mix on low for 2 minutes. This will help release the heat as well.
Time for eggs! Time for eggs!
We slowly incorporate four eggs into the warm flour dough. A stand mixer is best for this process, but it you have an electric hand beater on low speed, that will also work.
One egg at a time, beaten on low speed for one minute between each addition.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl between egg additions.
Around egg two, the dough will start to look like dough glue. Trust the process. It’s about to get good.
Egg number three will start to smooth the batter into a gloss. The addition of the eggs takes transforms the flour, water, and butter dough into more of a smooth, silky, pourable batter.
Eggs smooth pâte à choux batter to a shiny, thick, luscious batter.
It’s really one of my favorite batters because it starts as boiling water and ends with the most beautiful sheen.
From this point, the batter is ready to be placed on a parchment lined pan and baked. That can happen several ways:
- Use a large ice cream scoop to scoop batter onto baking sheet.
- Place batter in a pastry bag fitted with a large piping tip and pipe into log-type eclair shapes
- Add grated cheese and chives to half (or all!) of the batter and bake into savory puffs
I heaped 1/4-cups of pâte à choux batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet. These six darlings will brown to golden and puff into air for our cream puffs.
With the remaining batter I stir in grated sharp cheddar cheese and chopped fresh chives.
These will be our savory gougères. Not fit for whipped cream, but a pretty snazzy appetizer or brunch treat.
The cheese gougères are scooped in the same manner, just cheese and onion studded.
The pâte à choux bakes up hallow and crisp, with centers that are airy and eggy.
I like the gougères just slightly warm with the cheese both browned and melty.
I have jazz hands. I literally just danced my fingers.
It’s time to fill the cream puffs.
We slice the plain puffs in half, leaving the back of the puff uncut, creating complete sandwich.
The inside of the puffs will be steamy hot so we’ll allow them to cool before adding the whipped cream. Important. We don’t want melty puffs.
Whipped cream, lightly sweetened, with vanilla (and maybe a tiny amount of peppermint extract)! Whipped until firm but still spoonable soft.
Dolloped generously inside the puff and set to rest.
Set to rest because CHOCOLATE GANACHE!
A simple mixture of chopped dark chocolate and warmed cream come together into a glossy, spreadable chocolate topping.
Criminal, it’s so good!
Melted white chocolate stripes for extra credit. Because it’s the holidays and, why not add a little extra sweetness.
You won’t believe how simple and decadent these are. They’ll be gone in no time. Best of luck just getting them into the refrigerator to chill.
photos by: Jon MelendezPrint
For the Pate a Choux
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 4 large eggs
For the Cream Puffs
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Ganache
- 8 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- pinch of salt
For the Cheese Gougeres
- 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- To make the pate a choux, combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan, over medium heat and bring to a rolling boil.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and add the flour all at once, using a spatula to stir quickly and vigorously.
- Return the pan to the burner and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture smooths to a glossy consistency and pulls away from the sides of the pan. The mixture will also steam and cook off some of the water.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool for 10 minutes. The mixture will still be warm but place in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on low speed for 1 minute.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing for 1 full minute between each addition. The mixture will look curdled with the first two eggs. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are mixed evenly. The batter will be smooth and glossy after the last egg is added. Beat for 2 minutes after adding the last egg.
- If making gougeres, stir cheese and chives and pepper into the batter. If making cream puffs, proceed to scooping and baking.
- Using a generously large cookie scoop, or a level muffin scoop, drop the thick batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 1/4-cup mounds. Space the mounds about 3″ apart, to allow for expansion.
- Bake the pastries for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, until pastries are a medium golden brown. Don’t open the oven door while the pastries are baking.
- Turn off the oven and remove the pastries from the oven. Make a small slit in the top of each, and return them to the oven for 5 minutes, to allow the steam to escape. Place them on a rack to cool if you’ve made cream puffs, or serve slightly warm if you’ve made gougeres.
- When the puffs are cool enough to handle, split each in half to make top and bottom pieces; splitting and exposing the centers to air will help keep them from becoming soggy.
- To make the cream, whip together cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla into soft peaks. Enough so that cream holds its shape, but not so much that it becomes stiff. Generously spoon into split cream puffs and place the top of the puff over the cream. Chill to keep the cream cool.
- To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream until it just begins to steam and simmer. Remove from heat and immediately pour over chocolate. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt. Allow to sit for 1 minute. After 1 minute stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is glossy. While warm, spoon over cream puffs. Drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired.
- Cream puffs are best served slightly cooled so keep them stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.