Classic Cream Puffs with Pastry Cream

Cream puffs are little delicate pastry balls of heaven filled with a smooth and unforgettable, vanilla-custard pastry cream. Each is capped with warm chocolate ganache that is sure to lure you in for more than just one.

Classic Cream Puffs filled with Pastry Cream and poured ganache | URBAN BAKES

Cream puffs or profiteroles? Which do you prefer to call them?

From scouring the web and through many cookbooks, seasoned food bloggers to renowned chefs have used both terms interchangeably. Ultimately, I side with profiteroles are ice cream-filled cream puffs eaten cold whereas, cream puffs can be filled with anything else and eaten warm or at room temperature. Either way you call it, both are still little yummy puffs of bliss!

Classic Cream Puffs filled with Pastry Cream and poured ganache | URBAN BAKES

A few years ago, I had this for the first time after a friendsgiving dinner. My friend pulled out a tub of profiteroles and not thinking much of it, I popped one in my mouth and to my surprise, I was hooked! I had another then, said to myself, “okay 1 more.” Then it was the, “okay this is the last one.” Next thing I knew, I had about 10! They ARE addicting.

Since then, I’ve wanted to make them on my own but was a bit doubtful it would come out successful. Hearing the words “pâte à choux” sounded difficult. Let me tell you, I was wrong.

Classic Cream Puffs filled with Pastry Cream and poured ganache | URBAN BAKES

What is Cream Puff Pastry (Pâte à choux)?

Pâte à choux is simply French for cream puff pastry and is much easier to make then it sounds. It has four main ingredients, flour, eggs, butter and water/milk. There are few steps involved with cooking the pastry but with a few minutes of a few stirs, the pastry magically comes together on its own.

When baked the pâte à choux will become a puffed pastry with a crisp, delicate shell of a near hollow center with at times, a thin layer of a custard-like webbing of pastry lining just beneath the shell. This pastry is the basis for sweets such as éclairs and profiteroles as well as savory gougères which are typically made with cheese.

How to make Cream Puff Pastry (Pâte à choux)?

There are several ways to making cream puff pastry. Some would rather do the mixing using just a spoon – which can save another bowl from washing, whereas, others may want to employ the food processor or an electric mixer. I chose the latter but you can certainly achieve the same results either choice you make. Below is a quick rundown on how to make cream puff pastry. Further instruction can be found in the recipe card below.

  • After the baking sheets are prepped and the oven is on, you want to combine the water and butter just to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour. Continue to stir until the paste resembles dry mashed potatoes. (See left image below)
  • Return the flour mixture back to the stove on low heat. Using the back of a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, smear the paste around to ensure the heat cooks through evenly. After about 3 minutes, the “dry mashed potatoes” will look wet and have a slight sandy appearance. (See right image below)
  • Transfer the paste to a bowl of a stand mixer and add the eggs in a steady stream while continuously mixing. If doing this step by hand, add 1 egg in a time into the saucepan and thoroughly mix before each addition. The paste should now become a yellowish cream as seen in the 3rd image below.
  • Transfer the cream puff pastry (pâte à choux) to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. To avoid peaks with dark brown spots on the top of the pastries, use the back of spoon (or fingertip) dipped in cold water to smooth out the mounds. Ensure the mounds are spaced about 2 inches apart to allow heat to circulate around each. See last 2 images below.

Choux Pastry (Pate a Choux) Prebaked Cream Puffs | URBAN BAKES
Step 9 after mixing in the eggs.

Because there is no leavening agent used in this recipe, it’s important to bake the pastries initially at a high temperature to allow a blast of heat enter the center of the mounds and to have the steam rise from the inside. Be sure to not open the door as this could cause the cream puffs to deflate.

After baking, it is wise to release the steam by cutting a slit through the sides. If not done, the inside of the cream puff could result in an undesirable soggy texture.

In this recipe, note that I started with creating the pastry cream first. This is intentional since the cream filling may take 1 to 2 hours to set. Lastly, the ganache was made. You may opt for a chocolate sauce which has a thinner drip or simply use powdered sugar.

Classic Cream Puffs filled with Pastry Cream and poured ganache | URBAN BAKES

As always, if you make this recipe, please leave a comment below and/or rate the recipe. I love knowing what you have made; brightens my day! If you post on Instagram, be sure to tag me @urbanbakes too!

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Classic Cream Puffs | URBAN BAKES

Classic Cream Puffs with Pastry Cream


  • Author: URBAN BAKES
  • Total Time: 2 1/2 hours
  • Yield: 3 dozen 1x

Description

Cream puffs are little delicate pastry balls of heaven filled with a smooth and unforgettable, vanilla-custard pastry cream. Each is capped with warm chocolate ganache that is sure to lure you in for more than just one.


Ingredients

Scale

PASTRY CREAM

  • 2 cups (480 ml) oat milk or regular whole milk
  • 2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tablespoon (12 grams) vanilla bean paste or extract 
  • 4 egg yolks (72 grams)
  • 1/4 cup (33 grams) cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon (18 grams)  unsalted butter

CHOUX PASTRY (Pâte à Choux)

  • 1 cup (126 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (7 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
  • 1/2 cup (112 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • 4 large eggs (200 grams), lightly beaten

GANACHE 

  • 1/2 cup (160 grams) heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup (160 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

 


Instructions

  1. PASTRY CREAM: In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring milk and 1/3 cup sugar to a light boil, remove from heat and add vanilla. If using vanilla bean paste, whisk until all paste is incorporated into the mixture. 
  2. In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk egg yolks, remaining 1/3 cup (65 grams) sugar and cornstarch until smooth and no lumps remain. 
  3. Pour 1/4 cup of milk-mixture into the egg-mixture and whisk until combined. Repeat once more.  Then add remaining milk-mixture in a slow and steady stream while continuing to whisk egg-mixture.  Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve over the saucepan.  
  4. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture thickens, whisk constantly.  Once thickened, remove from heat. Stir in butter to melt.  
  5. Transfer cream to a shallow bowl or an 8×8 glass dish. Cover cream with a plastic wrap by gently pressing the wrap just enough to touch the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming.  Chill for 1 to 2 hours or until cream becomes gelatinous.  
  6. CHOUX PASTRY (Pâte à Choux): Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 425°F (220°C). Spray 2 baking sheets with vegetable oil spray or lay a silicone baking mat onto each baking sheet; set aside.  In a small bowl whisk together flour, sugar and salt; set aside.
  7. In a 2-quart saucepan over high heat, occasionally stir butter and water just to a boil.  Remove saucepan from heat and mix in flour mixture until just combined and mixture clears sides of saucepan.  
  8. Return saucepan to low heat; stir constantly using a smearing motion until mixture becomes slightly shiny with a wet sandy appearance, about 3 minutes. 
  9. Transfer choux pastry to a large bowl attached to an electric stand mixer with the flat beater attachment.  On medium speed, gradually add lightly beaten eggs in a steady stream. Scrape down sides of bowl and process until pastry becomes a thick, smooth and gummy paste. 
  10. Fit piping bag with a 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) round tip and fill with the warm choux pastry.  Pipe choux pastry into 1 1/2 inch (3.8 cm) mounds on prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches (5 cm) of space between each mound. Use the back of a spoon dipped in cold water to evenly shape and smooth the surface of the mounds. 
  11. Bake at 425°F (220°C) for 15 minutes.  Do not open oven door.  Reduce temperature to 375°F (190°C) and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown and firm on the surface. Turn off oven.
  12. Remove pastries from oven and using a paring knife, cut a 3/4 inch (about 2 cm) slit into the sides of each pastry to release steam.  
  13. GANACHE: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring heavy cream just to a light:  boil; quickly remove from heat and pour over chocolate chips.  Stir constantly until chocolate has completely melted.  Transfer ganache to a shallow bowl and set aside to room temperature or chill in fridge until thickened to desired pourable consistency.
  14. ASSEMBLY:  When cream puffs are at room temperature and pastry cream has set, fill a piping bag with pastry cream using any star or round tip. Pipe pastry cream in a circular motion to each bottom half of the cream puff.  Place on the top half and pour ganache over each.

Notes

Unfilled pastries can be stored at room temperature for 24 hours or frozen covered for 1 month. 

To recrisp room temperature pastries, bake at 300°F (150°C) for 5 to 8 minutes. For frozen pastries, bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  

Regular milk can be substituted for oat milk.

  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Cuisine: French

Keywords: Cream Puffs

14 thoughts on “Classic Cream Puffs with Pastry Cream”

  1. Yes! This is such a classic!! I’ll be making this this week now that I have more time at home!! Can’t wait!

  2. These are sent from heaven! I can’t wait to bake these in my kitchen and treat my family to this amazing dessert.

  3. Simply wow! I loved the presentation and the looks of it. This will definitely a great hit with our kids.

  4. Marisa F. Stewart

    OMG!! It’s been ages since I’ve made cream puffs and reading your post I remember how much I loved doing it. I used to make them for my Father-in-law who has since passed away. I’m definitely using your recipe to make some for my kids and grandkids – I know they’ll love them. That filling and topping is perfect.

  5. I totally agree with you, cream puffs ARE addicting! I had no idea they were so easy to make, these are going to be fun to make with my girls!

  6. Oh gosh that pastry cream is beautiful!! I wish I could reach in and grab on right now! 😀 I love making these for the holidays…looks so good!

  7. These look absolutely perfect. Cream puffs are something I love to eat but have never tried to make. I should get on that!

  8. My daughter loves to bake and she love trying new recipes! I love cream puffs and always eat one too many but have never tried making them! This would be great to do on the weekend seeing we’re all staying home nowadays anyway.

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