Cream puffs – how delicious when properly prepared! Follow the directions below and produce glorious puffs that will get you rave reviews!
Find the recipe for pate a choux here. Make the dough and pipe into mounds the size you desire. If this is your first time making cream puffs it is better to start with a relatively small size. I pipe mounds about 1½” in diameter. Hold the tip of the piping bag about 1/2″ above the surface of a parchment covered baking sheet.
Use steady pressure to pipe a mound of pate a choux the desired size without lifting the tip. The pate a choux will build up around the tip a bit – that’s ok.
When the cream puff is the size you desire, stop the pressure. Still without pressure, use a small circular motion to “wipe” the tip off. This is a swift motion with a small flick of the wrist.
If you have a sharp peak on the top, wet your finger and pat the top lightly to smooth it. Once you have piped the batter, bake according to the directions and adding craquelin if desired. Allow the puffs to cool completely before proceeding.
Fill cream puffs from the bottom or cut the top and pipe a decorative filling with a fancy tip.
To fill cream puffs from the bottom, poke a hole in the bottom using a small decorating tip. Make sure the hole is large enough to accommodate the pastry tip you will use to pipe the filling but not so large as to rip the bottom of the pastry. Pipe the filling by inserting the tip into the middle of the puff.
Squeeze until you feel the puff getting heavy and the filling pushing back lightly against your hand. If you go beyond this point, the cream puff will split. A good way to see if you are getting enough filling in the pastry is to cut one open. If you have filled it well, there should be no air gap around the edges. Wipe off any excess from the bottom of the pastry and keep upside down if you plan to dip in ganache or caramel.
If you are glazing the tops of your cream puffs after filling, you will need to set up a small dipping station. If you are right handed, set the station up as in the picture below – dipping medium (I happen to be using caramel blond), puffs to be dipped, and parchment to set them on. Left handed bakers should set the station up in the opposite order with parchment on the left, puffs in the middle, and caramel or ganache on the right.
Setting your station up in this way keeps things organized and keeps your pastries from being damaged once they are finished. It also helps prevent burns when using caramel. To dip, start with the pastry closest to you. If you don’t, there is a tendency to drag sleeves through the pastries you are reaching over and you want to avoid this! Dip the pastry almost half way into the caramel or ganache. Raise the pastry out and give a very gentle shake to remove any excess product from the top of the pastry.
Turn the pastry over and set in the upper corner of the parchment that is farthest away from you.
This way, when you dip the next pastry you won’t pass over the top of finished pastries and accidentally damage them. Continue in this way until all the pastries are dipped. If you want to cut the puffs and fill them with a decoratively piped filling, cut the top off 1/3 of the way down using a small serrated knife.
The pastries can be filled will an endless array of fillings and flavor combinations. I filled mine in layers. I used chocolate ganache in the bottom, pastry cream as the next layer, and then finished with whipped cream.
Put the tops on and dust with powdered sugar or other decorations and enjoy!
Other great filling choices: lemon curd, praline cream, raspberry jam with pastry cream, chocolate custard, ice cream ( profiteroles!).