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Cream Puffs (Choux à la Crème)



I was going to start off this post by telling you guys that the only thing worse than someone showing up to a party wearing the same dress as you, is someone showing up with the same dessert. The reason I was going to say that is because the night before the party I was invited to this weekend, I discovered that someone else was making cream puffs. But then I showed up to the party yesterday and I found out that that person didn't actually end up bringing them because they didn't turn out so great for her. So basically, all I have for you guys now is I made cream puffs for a party this weekend...and they were pretty awesome, if I may say so myself.


I rarely ever do trial runs for desserts before bringing them to a party. My confidence is just sky-high like that. Just kidding. Seriously though, I don't. It doesn't worry me if they'll turn out bad. In the worst case scenario, Entenmann's cakes are a 5 minute drive from my house. But my mom insisted that I try making these cream puffs a few days before the party, because cream puffs aren't just like throwing ingredients in a bowl and mixing them together to make a cake. There's a "technique".

It's true. Instead of throwing ingredients in a bowl, you're throwing ingredients in a saucepan. And then after 5 minutes or so, you're transferring those ingredients (that have now formed a dough) to a bowl, and you're either giving your arms a workout by beating the eggs in yourself or you're being lazy and using a hand mixer. But since that still requires arm strength, you can be super lazy and use your KitchenAid stand mixer, like I did.



I didn't use my KitchenAid mixer the first time around though. I used my hand mixer. I also didn't transfer the dough from the saucepan to the bowl, I just kept it in the saucepan and added the eggs in there. I guess you could say I made a few mistakes during my trial batch. Nonetheless, the cream puffs turned out pretty good. But pretty good didn't cut it for me. I saw room for improvement, in taste and in looks.

So I did some hardcore research and found a recipe that was widely used amongst other food bloggers, who all professed having excellent results with it. I bookmarked it and hoped for the best, because I wasn't going to make a trial batch this time. I didn't see the need to since so many other experienced bakers had already praised the recipe. But my mom couldn't get over the fact that I had tried one recipe, and would be using a different one for the party. She came at me with a million "what ifs".



Don't worry, I didn't give in and make a trial batch. I carried through with my plans to make the cream puffs the morning of the party, using the new recipe I had found, and quickly calmed my mother's anxiety with the first batch that came out the oven. They were perfect--the right tint of golden brown, light, airy, fluffy, amazing. The only thing that I feel could have used some improvement was their shape. And that's all on me, I still need to learn how to pipe them correctly, into perfect circles. That's a skill in it's own.


But even if your cream puffs come out slightly slanted or leaning towards one side, it's nothing some sprinkled powdered sugar can't cover up. Plus, people aren't really paying attention to that as much as they are to the cream filling. Now, that's what you need to get right. Luckily for me, the first pastry cream I found was absolutely delicious. The site I got it from called it a custard, but no matter what you call it,  it's so good you'll want to eat it with a spoon. Everyone in my family raved about it.



Combined with my newly found perfect pàte à choux recipe, the mouthwatering pasty cream custard made my cream puffs a huge hit at the party. And since I happen to have some of that cream left over, I'm going to go make some more cream puffs right now. There's totally nothing wrong with making cream puffs three times in one week. They're SO easy that it would feel wrong not to make them! Ahem. Yes, that would be your cue to go make some too :)

Cream Puffs (Choux à la Crème)

Yield: 4 dozen mini cream puffs
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Ingredients:

For the pastry dough: (pàte à choux)
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs

For the pastry cream:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch of vanilla powder (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)


Directions:

For the pastry dough: (pàte à choux)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.

Bring the water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the flour mixture all at once and stir vigorously. Cook and stir until the mixture forms a ball that doesn’t separate.

Remove from the heat and cool slightly (about 1 minute). Transfer the dough ball to the bowl of a KitchenAid stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or to a large mixing bowl if you are using a hand mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each one until the dough is smooth. (You can also use a wooden spoon to beat the eggs in yourself).

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a medium-sized star tip and pipe circles about 2-inches in diameter and about 1-inch apart onto greased baking sheets (or baking sheets lined with parchment paper). Bake the puffs for about 17-20 minutes. Remove the cream puffs from the oven and cool on a cooling rack.

-If you don't have a pastry bag, you can cut the corner of a Ziploc bag and use that, or you can simply drop heaping tablespoons of dough. The bigger your cream puffs, the longer you'll have to bake them.

For the pastry cream:
In a saucepan over moderate heat, combine sugar, flour and salt. Add the milk slowly, stirring continuously until mixture is thick and bubbly.

Lower the heat, stir for 2 minutes and then remove from heat. In a small bowl, add the milk mixture to the egg yolks slowly, whisking continuously as you're doing so. Return mixture back to pan.

Bring to gently boil for 2 more minutes, adding butter and vanilla. Transfer to a shallow bowl to cool, placing plastic wrap on top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate.

Once pastry cream has cooled completely, spoon it into a pastry bag fitted with a small tip(I used the same star tip that I used to pipe the cream puffs). Using the tip of a knife, cut a small slit into the side of each cream puff. Insert the tip of the pastry bag into the slit, and squeeze the bag gently until the puff is filled with cream.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Adapted from La Fuji Mama and Eats Well With Others

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13 comments:

  1. It is quite a worry when someone brought the same food or dessert in a party. Good thing you did your hardcore research. It looks creamy and puffy =)

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  2. I love this cake. It reminde me of my childhood, my mother used to make them quite frequently. In Croatia we also call them Profiteroli or Princess dougnuts. I have never made them myself, so i will write dovn your recipe and try them out. Thanks. Pics looks wonderfull.

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  3. I actually never make trial batches either. oops!

    but yours really did come out perfectly! Now you're making me think i should make another batch. Hmm...

    So glad you liked them!

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  4. Cream puffs are my favorites! I'm definitely trying this recipe. Yours look so lovely!

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  5. These truly do look absolutely perfect :) beautiful photography too, that pastry cream...yum!

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  6. Levitation is for SissiesFebruary 21, 2012 at 2:01 AM

    Fantastic work, and mashaAllah! I especially love how fearless you are about your cooking!

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  7. I just bake the puffs. They are amazing, cream is great and so smooth. Thanks again for great recipe. I recommend it.

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  8. These are beautiful. I make my grandmother's recipe about 3 or 4 times a year. not too different from yours, but I don't ever beat the eggs in... I beat them all together and add slowly, doing everything by hand. And I am going to have to try the piping... I've always done the spoons creating a rustic look. My filling is very different. I use sugar-free vanilla instant pudding with heaving whipping cream and I think milk. It's a stiff cream and still pretty decent for the diabetics in our group.

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  9. Eowyn I'm so glad they came out great for you!

    Erin, I've heard of the filling being made like that and I definitely intend on trying it one day. It would be way easier than all the stirring I put into making the filling from scratch, not to mention, I wouldn't have to wait for it to get cool to fill the puffs!

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  10. I did not like this recipe. I bake all the time and this did not turn out good at all and I wasted all of those ingredients making it.

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  11. They look perfect! How many puffs do they make?

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  12. They make about 4 dozen mini cream puffs.

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  13. Did you fully prepare the morning of or fill right be before?

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