If you thought making cream puffs was too difficult or something only French pastry chefs do, this Super Simple Cream Puff recipe will change your tune! These are very easy to make and are basically foolproof with my simple steps to ensuring perfect puffs!
There are a lot of things I used to be “afraid” of that I have since seen the light and gotten over. Things like…
Mountain lions. I have overcome this fear by avoiding desolate landscapes, hiking, or any activity in which a mountain lion could be nearby.
Candy thermometers. I once thought that any recipe that required one would be frightening, but they aren’t so bad!
Barbecuing. So I’m not the best at it, but I can do it begrudgingly (only because I come away smelling like char-grilled meat and I only wash my hair once a week soo…)
Electricity. Okay, still spooked by the possibility of being electrocuted. It’s a work in progress.
Killing plants. It still happens unfortunately, and I do feel bad… but I just buy fake ones and it solves that problem.
Eating creepy chicken. I just avoid it completely and don’t have to worry about eating creepy chicken! (What is “creepy chicken”? It’s the gross, gristly parts on it. BARF).
Cream puffs, or anything involved pate a choux dough. I promise, you do not have to have a French bone in your body or a pastry chef degree to know how to make these! They are surprisingly simple and come together relatively quickly – plus, they can be made a day ahead!
The cream puffs start with a pate a choux, which is a type of dough consisting of water, butter, salt, flour, and eggs. You simply melt together the butter, water, and salt in a saucepot, then vigorously stir in the flour until the mixture forms into a ball and comes away from the sides of the pot. Let it set at room temperature off the heat for 10 minutes exactly. This is the time frame I found to be the best when making the dough – it is cool enough that it won’t automatically scramble the eggs, but still warm and pliable.
After 10 minutes, you’ll beat in your eggs, one at a time, until the mixture forms a cohesive dough. As you’re adding in the first, second, and third egg, the dough may separate and look curdled and… not good. Don’t despair! Keep beating it and add in that fourth egg. Eventually it will come together and look seamless and cohesive. Promise 🙂
Next you’ll take spoonfuls of it and drop rounded mounds of dough about 2″ apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake ’em up until they’re golden and dried out and PLEASE RESIST the urge of opening up the oven door a million times. Use that oven light if you have one! You want these to be totally dried out with a matte golden brown finish. Otherwise, if the cream puffs are still moist, the texture will be off and they’ll fall in the center.
You’ll want to cool your puffs completely and let them dry out for about an hour or so. Then, you can either stuff them through the sides, or split them down the center like I did. Personally, in my cream puff-eating experience, I’ve only had ones cut in half so that’s what I did.
Some cream puffs are filled with a vanilla pastry cream, but I love a classic one with sweetened whipped cream. There’s something so simple and pure about a whipped cream-filled puff that delights me to no end.
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- ¾ cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the butter, water, and salt. Bring to a boil and working quickly and carefully, add in the flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a ball, is mostly smooth and comes together. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.
- Add in your eggs, one at a time, beating well with the wooden spoon or a mixer until just combined. The mixture may look curdled and separated for awhile, but by the fourth egg it should definitely have come together into a soft dough.
- Using two spoons, drop heaping ¼ cupfuls of dough 2" apart on the baking sheet. If you get two baking sheets out of the dough, only bake one at a time - you want to minimize going into the oven to check on these as each time you open the oven door, you risk the cream puffs collapsing.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cream puffs are golden brown and appear dry. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Let cool thoroughly, about 1 hour. Split the top ⅓ of the cream puff off with a serrated knife.
- For the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla on high speed until stiff peaks form. Pipe the whipped cream in the cream puffs and top with the cream puff lid. Dust with additional confectioners' sugar, if desired. Cream puff shells can be made a day in advance. Filled cream puffs should be eaten same day.
I absolutely adore these sweet and simple cream puffs!
Have a super sweet day!