Cream puffs were one of those elusive baking projects I had just resigned myself to never understanding. There was magic there that belonged only to… I dunno… Italian or French grandmothers that just wasn’t for my self-taught baker brain. I got over that little hurdle I set for for myself and unlocked the magic of pâte à choux (that’s the French name for this specific pastry) and the great news is: it’s actually pretty simple and totally home-kitchen worthy.
I will also say that I had cream puffs in the same class as cannolis as something unattainable to me in my home kitchen and that still holds true. Maybe that just holds true because I’ve had the best cannolis of my life in Philly and there’s just no coming back from that… ya know?
So today – we cream puff.
Incidentally if you’re still feeling intimidated at the thought of the puff, we’re making these cream puffs TOGETHER this Saturday with The Bakehouse Live. There are still a few spots left! We’ll go step-by-step. You can ask me all sorts of questions. It’s like you’re inviting me over to bake with you but you don’t have to vacuum. So, ya know – we all win.
Here’s what we’re doing today. We’re gathering our gumption. We’re getting ready to impress ourselves.
This recipe is essentially a set of three mini recipes – but don’t feel intimidated – it’s actually pretty simple.
We’re making cream puffs. We’re making raspberry whipped cream. We’re making chocolate ganache.
For the cream puffs we’ll need butter and water, flour and salt, and the magic of four large eggs.
For the whipped cream we’ll use heavy cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, rose water, and sweetened fresh raspberries. If you don’t have rose water, a dash of almond extract is also a lovely idea.
For the chocolate ganache we’ll just use heavy cream and dark chocolate chips or chunks. If the chocolate ganache feels like too much, these cream puffs are also delicious without the chocolate. But I mean… chocolate makes just about everything better so you know what to do.
Unlike most baked goods, cream puffs start in a small saucepan. We’ll melt butter into water over medium heat and bring it to a quick boil. Once the mixture simmers we’ll add the flour and salt and stir to combine.
This might feel like the weirdest baking ever, bit just go with me on this.
The flour will absorb the water and butter and come together into a soft dough in the saucepan. Stir the dough over low heat to steam off some of the moisture.
Here’s where a stand mixer of electric hand beaters comes in.
I’m using a stand mixer so that’s the language I’ll use.
Place the warm cooked dough in the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit and cool for 10 minutes or so.
Next, using the paddle attachment, we’ll begin to slowly stir the cooked dough, releasing more heat and steam.
The dough won’t be completely cool before we add the eggs, but we want to cool the dough such that it doesn’t cook the eggs when they’re added.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating on medium-low speed for 1 minute between each addition. We really want to give the eggs time to incorporate and aerate – that’s why we’re so specific with the timing.
After the 4 eggs are added the batter will be glossy, smooth and scoopable.
I used my big-boy large cookie scoop to portion the batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet. It’s a scant 1/4 cup per puff.
Bake in a hot hot oven without peaking and the eggs we spent all that time incorporating will pop these puffs just so.
It’s actual magic. Well… science but science seems like magic sometimes.
While the puffs bake, it’s time to assemble the cream.
I started with fresh raspberries which I smashed with a bit of sugar and splash of rose water.
You can truly use any fruit that feels good to you!
Whip sweetened cream to soft to medium-soft peaks.
Just enough for the cream to hold its shape plus a few whisks more.
We’ll gently fold our smashed fruit into our fluffed cream.
I like to barely stir the mixture so I have streaks of fruit through my cream.
Set in the refrigerator to remain chilled while the puffs cool and ganache is assembled.
Do you know how easy it is to make ganache? It’s criminal, really.
Place chocolate chunks in a bowl, pour hot hot cream over it. Leave it for a few minutes before stirring to glossy smooth.
That’s it! Then you just spoon it directly into your mouth until you can’t anymore, jkjkjk.
Just before we’re ready to serve these gems we’ll split the puffs in two and fill them with whipped cream.
Add the tops and, if you haven’t eaten all of the ganache with a spoon, dollop it atop each cream puff.
They’re best served on petite china plates, right away, with black coffee or cold champagne.
Take on this baking adventure with me! They’re crisp and eggs, fluffy sweet and rose scented. They taste… pretty and that’s what we deserve this weekend.
Photos with my dear Jon Melendez.Print
For the pate choux
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
For the cream
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon rose water
For the chocolate ganache
- 4 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- pinch of salt
- 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.
- 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-inches 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.
- 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. Smash the raspberries with granulated sugar and rose water. Loosely fold the smashed berries into the whipped cream, leaving large streaks of berries. Just before serving, 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 though they’re best within a few hours of assembling.