The Classic Simplicity of Cream Puffs

Though they may have a reputation for being overly lavish, cream puffs are really anything but — six simple ingredients yield a dessert that is as versatile as it is impressive. Chantilly cream is nestled between rounds of flaky pâte à choux for a lovely balance of light pastry and soft, sweet cream.

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With just enough rich sweetness to complement these succulent, buttery scallops, cream puffs prove that indulging in a sumptuous classic dessert isn’t just for special occasions. The combination of buttery choux pastry and sweet creamy filling is a wonderful continuation of the scallops’ flavors. Pair them with a clean, well-oaked white wine and you’ll have the makings of an elegant — yet easy — evening of relaxing, excellent food.

Classically delicious

The unique texture and subtle flavor of pâte à choux makes it fundamental to dozens of well-loved pastries. It bakes up into shells that are flaky on the outside and softly hollow inside, perfect for filling with sweet creams, jams, and custards. The desserts that use choux pastry are some of the world’s most time-honored favorites, including éclairs, crullers, beignets, profiteroles, and, of course, cream puffs.

Keep it simple

Pâte à choux is made up of just four basic ingredients: butter, eggs, water, and flour. Though I stand by my claim that the recipe is simple, this pastry’s one-of-a-kind texture relies entirely on its unique preparation.

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Any choux pastry is essentially cooked twice: butter and water are first cooked together on the stove, and then flour and eggs are added until a paste-like batter forms. After being piped into rounds, the dough gets a final bake in the oven.

Layered with a sweet, creamy filling, these puffs belong to an elite family of foods that are as utterly delicious as they are genuine and simple.

Dress it up or down

Chantilly cream is a perfect choux filler, but then, nearly any cream would be. While I love just casually piling on fresh cream and berries, these versatile and inherently impressive puffs are easy to dress up. Use a star-shaped tip to pipe in your desired cream filling, and try using sliced strawberries, chocolate morsels, or nuts for an added element of flavor. And best of all, they freeze fantastically, so you can always have an easy dessert on hand.

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Classic Cream Puffs

Pastry Ingredients

  • 1 pint water
  • 7 ounces butter
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar (optional)
  • 10 ½ ounces flour
  • 7-8 eggs

Chantilly Cream Ingredients

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • about 2 ounces confectioners’ sugar

Pastry InstructionsCreamPuffs_01of8

  1. Preheat oven to bake at 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt, and sugar (if desired). Bring to full boil.
  3. Pour liquid into mixer. Add the flour all at once. Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed for 1 minute until the mixture has cooled slightly.
  4. Add eggs one at a time. Make sure each egg is completely mixed in before adding the next. Repeat until the mixture reaches a shiny, firm consistency.
  5. CreamPuffs_04of8Prepare a pastry bag with a large star tip and add choux paste to the bag.
  6. Pipe the choux paste onto the lined baking sheet in domes of about 1″ in diameter.
  7. Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 10 minutes, then turn back to 350°F (180°C) for another 20 minutes. The puffs should be brown on the outside and dry on the inside.
  8. Remove puffs from oven and allow to cool completely on rack before cutting and filling.

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Chantilly Cream Instructions

  1. It’s best to chill your mixing bowl and whisk before adding the ingredients. Place both in your freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes before mixing, and you’ll have a much fluffier, well-composed cream.
  2. Place the cold cream in your cold mixing bowl and whip on high until it forms soft peaks.
  3. Add sugar and continue to whip until it forms stiff peaks. Be careful not to overwhip the cream, or it will become grainy and separate with a buttery flavor.

Cream Puff Assembly

Once the puffs have cooled, cut each in half using a serrated knife. Using either a spoon or a pastry bag, place desired amount of cream inside the hollow of half of the puff, then sandwich it inside with the other half. If desired, add fruit, chocolate pieces, or other extra goodies on top of the cream before replacing the puff top.

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