Classic Cream Puffs

Cream puffs really came into their own in North America as a popular sweet treat after World War II. Also known as profiteroles, these delicate pastries have been a favourite of mine since childhood. There is something magical about watching a blob of dough puff up in the oven, creating a cavity inside the pastry just begging to be filled with sweet whipped cream, ice cream or even a savoury filling. Don’t be intimidated by the choux or puff dough – it’s actually really easy to make! Although helpful, a stand mixer isn’t essential for cream puffs; you can incorporate the eggs with a hand mixer or even a wooden spoon and a strong forearm. I recently discovered that cream puffs freeze beautifully – so they are a wonderful make-ahead dessert for your next dinner party.  The chocolate and caramel sauces can also be made ahead.

Sweet whipped cream and rich chocolate sauce make this cream puff a heavenly treat.

Cream Puffs – Ingredients

1 cup water
½ cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon white sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup unbleached white flour
4 large eggs at room temperature

Method

  • Heat water, butter, sugar and salt in a large saucepan.
  • When water mixture reaches full rolling boil, add flour all at once.
  • Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together in a ball

    After adding the flour, beat the dough vigorously until it comes together in a ball.

  • Remove the pot from the heat and transfer dough to a bowl; let cool slightly (to about 130F – 140F).
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating vigorously after each addition (this is where the stand/hand mixer or strong forearm come into play).
  • After all eggs have been incorporated, continue beating for several more minutes, until the dough is smooth and glossy, like very thick cake batter.

    After beating the eggs in one at a time, continue beating the dough till it is thick and glossy.

  • With two teaspoons, drop dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. I usually make my dough ‘blobs’ about 1.5 inches in size.

    Drop dough from a teaspoon to make puffs that are about 1.5 inches in size. They’ll puff up to about 3 – 4 inches when baked.

  • Bake one sheet at a time for 20 minutes until fully puffed and nicely golden on the outside.
  • Remove tray from oven and with a sharp knife, make a small horizontal slit on one side of each puff. This will allow the centres to dry out.
  • Return to oven for 5 minutes more then remove and put puffs on a wire rack to cool completely.

    Light, airy and crisp, cream puffs can be filled right away or frozen for later use.

  • Bake remaining sheet(s) in the same way.
  • If serving the same day, leave puffs on wire rack till ready to fill and glaze. To store for a longer period, put cooled puffs in airtight containers and freeze.
  • To reheat frozen puffs, preheat oven to 350F. Put puffs on a cookie sheet and put in the oven. Turn heat off and let sit for 5 minutes until crisped up. Let cool 5 minutes before filling.
  • To fill crisp cream puffs, slice in half horizontally and put 1 – 2 tablespoons of sweetened whipped cream or good quality vanilla ice cream in the middle. Replace top and glaze with chocolate or caramel sauce (see below).

Thick Chocolate Sauce

This ganache-like sauce makes a wonderful topping for cream puffs, cupcakes and even ice cream or custard. Note that the inclusion of golden or corn syrup is important – it helps prevent the sauce from crystallizing. If you want to make the sauce a little thinner, add milk or cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you get the desired thickness. The sauce can be refrigerated or frozen; just be sure to reheat gently in the microwave, stirring often.

Ingredients

1 cup good quality chocolate chips
¼ cup butterscotch chips
4 teaspoons golden syrup or corn syrup
3 – 4 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur (or other liqueur of your choice)
1 – 2 tablespoons milk or whipping cream as needed to thin sauce

Method

  • In a 4 cup heatproof measuring cup or bowl, melt chocolate chips over medium heat in the microwave for one minute intervals, stirring with a fork after each minute.
  • As soon as the chocolate begins to melt, add the butterscotch chips.
  • Continue heating and stirring until you have a smooth mixture.
  • Add the golden or corn syrup and beat again till smooth.
  • Add the Bailey’s – note that the mixture may appear to separate or seize but keep beating and it will come back together.
  • The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools so I recommend adding just a little milk or cream so you don’t over-thin the sauce; you can add more later if needed.
  • Transfer sauce to a heatproof jar or jug and store in fridge until ready to use.
  • To use, reheat gently in the microwave until just melted (but not hot). The sauce will take on a thinner consistency when warmed.  Add a bit more milk or cream if needed to achieve desired consistency. Stir to thoroughly mix before pouring.
  • If you want your glaze to be more frosting-like, pour it over cream puffs and let set for a few minutes.
  • The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks; it can also be frozen.

Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

½ cup white sugar
3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup heavy (whipping) cream

Method

Watch the sauce carefully through all stages of cooking so it doesn’t scorch. After adding the cream, the mixture will seize but be patient and stir often as the sugar melts and the sauce becomes smooth.

  • Place sugar in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot.
  • Over medium heat, warm sugar until it melts. Swirl pot occasionally to ensure even heat distribution. The sugar will turn golden brown as it melts and caramelizes.
  • When sugar is completely melted and golden, add butter. The mixture may foam up as the butter melts. Stir with a metal spoon.
  • When butter is melted, add cream – watch for foaming again.
  • Note that when the cream is added, the sugar will likely seize up and become a hard, sticky mass; it will melt as you continue to heat and stir the sauce (so be patient).
  • Continue stirring until sugar has melted and sauce is thick and golden.
  • Transfer sauce to a heatproof jar or jug and store in fridge until ready to use.
  • To use, reheat gently in the microwave until just melted (but not hot). The sauce will take on a thinner consistency when warmed.  Stir to thoroughly mix before pouring.
  • The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks; it can also be frozen.
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About Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I play with words and with food. I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. I'm also an enthusiastic explorer of faraway lands and cuisines.
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3 Responses to Classic Cream Puffs

  1. Susan Roy says:

    Hey Paul! I just made these and they’re awesome! I’m taking to them to a christmas potluck so made them a bit smaller and added a few drops of peppermint flavor to the whip cream to make them a little festive. At the rate i’m testing them I don’t know if any will actually make it to the party. Anyway, It was my first time on your blog yesterday and I love it!
    -Susan Roy

  2. Pingback: Gougères (savoury cheese puffs) | Constantly Cooking

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