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Tuesday
May042010

Technique 101: Learn Easy Pâte à Choux Dough and Make Beautiful Cream Puffs

 

Once you know how to make this easy Pâte à Choux dough, you can use it to make a number of different things. Pâte à Choux is cream puff pastry and is used to make cream puffs, gougeres, and even beignets.  I love it because it is simple, fast and I can make it ahead of time.  You can make these beautiful cream puffs and fill them as a dessert with ice cream or whipped cream.  You can make them and fill them for lunch with crab or chicken salad.  You can add cheese to the dough and make savory little gougeres for appetizers, which I will make for a future post.  You can make the cream puffs ahead of time and then simply fill them right before serving - I love recipes that can be made ahead of time, and this one is one of the best and most versatile.  Once you have this basic technique in your cooking arsenal, you will be ready to make all kinds of goodies.

Don't be intimidated about making these.  You will wow your friends and family with these and they will never know how easy they are.  You heat your liquid ingredients on the stove, dump in the flour all at once and stir until it forms a dough.  You then stick that in your stand mixer (or food processor), add eggs and mix until it is a paste.  You pipe it or spoon it onto baking sheets and bake. That's it.  The dough takes less than 10 minutes to whip up and it's all ingredients that you already have in your pantry and fridge. And they are not fussy - they are pretty forgiving and easy to make.  

One of the fun things to do with this recipe is to make a dessert bar.  Instead of a sundae bar, set up a cream puff bar - set out baked and split cream puffs, different types of ice creams, different flavors of whipped creams and sauces and toppings.  I like filling some with Nutella and whipped cream. Let everyone go at it, assembling their own cream puffs.  

Now let's make some.

Cream Puffs/Pâte à Choux Dough

 

for a printable recipe, click here

Makes 12 - 13 medium sized cream puffs

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 5 eggs (4 for the dough and one for an egg wash)  If you are not sure about your egg size (especially if you get eggs from a farm) I weighed my eggs after I broke them into a cup and they weighed a little over 5 ounces. Don't worry, though, this does not have to exact.

Instructions:

Heat the first four ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium high heat just until the milk starts to boil. Lower the heat to low and then dump in all the flour and stir with a wooden spoon.  The dough will pull together.  Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring the ball of dough around, so that it dries out.  Remove the dough and place it either in the bowl of a stand mixer or the bowl of a food processor and let the dough cool off for a few minutes.

Line a baking sheet with either a Silpat or parchment paper (I like parchment paper because I can just throw it away).  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

With the mixer running, using the beater blade, add the eggs one at a time.  It's important that you let each egg incorporate fully into the dough before adding the next one.  The dough will look curdled and weird - don't worry about it.  After all four eggs are added, mix until the dough forms a nice paste consistency.  It will be very loose, not at all like a bread dough.  (If you do not have either a mixer or some kind or a food processor, you can beat in the eggs one at a time with a spoon.  It just is a little more work).

Pipe the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large tip (I like using a star tip).  If you don't have a piping bag, you can use a gallon size zip-lock with the tip cut off of one corner or just use a spoon to place the dough onto the baking sheet. Pipe the dough into mounds about 2 to 2-1/2 inches wide. Beat the egg for the egg wash with just about a tablespoon of water.  Brush the mounds of pastry dough lightly with the egg wash. 

 

Bake at 375 degrees F.  for about 25 minutes, or until the puffs are a nice golden brown.  Turn off the heat and open the oven door a few inches and let the puffs sit in the turned off oven to dry out for about 30 minutes.  

If you want to use the cream puffs with a savory filling, like chicken salad, just cut back or omit the sugar.

 

Homemade Chocolate Sauce:

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 cup cream
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Instructions:

Heat the cream and chocolate just until it scalds (bubbles will form on the outside perimeter of the pot).  Turn off heat, add extract and whisk until smooth.

This sauce can be kept in the refrigerator a few days - just bring to room temperature to serve because it firms up when it is cold.

Homemade Whipped Cream:

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or a teaspoon of any flavor liquor you like - Amaretto, Grand Marnier, etc)

 

Instructions:

Whip cream until soft.  Add sugar and extract or liquor.  Whip until firm.  Refrigerate.

 

Cream Puffs can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.  They can also be frozen for several months. 

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Reader Comments (38)

Oh my goodness! These look delicious!!!! I have made them before, but it has been a very long time! They will be perfect for my niece's upcoming shower! Thanks again for another wonderful post, Elaine.

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie M.

This looks so easy maybe even I could make them. Thanks. These look wonderful.

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

WOW I think even I could do this

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSuzie

Elaine that perfect drip and that chocolate sauce! You're torturing me!!

May 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermarie

The perfect dessert! Love your photos too!

May 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

These "cream puffs" as my mom calls them, bring back so many great memories of my childhood.
My mom would make these as a treat every great, great once in awhile.
They are incredibly delicious!!

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

OOOOh,these look to die for!I have never attempted these in my life and I must give them a try one day.

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChook

Yummy! My mom used to make these, & can't wait to try them. Your photos are just beautiful!

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlena

I just love stopping by... for a visit. Your pics and recipes and words are all so lovely. Thank you!

May 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjanelle

Gorgeous cream puffs, Elaine. You make it look so easy. :)

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

yours look beautiful. I made these once and was a bit thrown off by the fact that they were not sweet. are these a little sweet? would it be wrong to add some more sugar?

May 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAriana from Chicago

From The Italian Dish:

Ariana: yes, this dough is a little sweet, that is why it is perfect to use for dessert. If you want to use it for a savory dish, just omit the sugar. Hope you like them!

May 11, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

these are the best desserts ever!! I make these all the time at work... they are total crowd pleasers!

May 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGaby

Between these and the arancini, I'm afraid you'll be receiving my bill in the mail shortly: to cover the larger-sized pants I'll need to be buying!

Very nice work!

May 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMister Meatball

Another heavenly treat! these are so going on my to-do list:)

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMansi

Hi tried this recipe tonight ~ for some reason, my cream puffs were pretty flat. The dough didn't look as stiff as yours after I beat in the eggs. Any suggestions? The chocolate sauce was delicious! :)

July 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfaith

Great looking cream puffs, but my question is.....if you are making alot of them how do you bake the other batches when you have to shut off the oven to let the first batch dry out?

September 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

This looks yumm. Can i try this recipe without eggs ? What do you suggest as a substitue for eggs ?

September 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterS.R

These were so easy and amazing! They reminded me of being in the back room of a number of different pastry shops owned by my father's brothers and sisters. I filled them through a side hole with coconut pudding using a piping bag - that is how I remember them doing it at the pastry shop. Great recipe and very easy...just leave the time for the extra 30 mins to dry out in the oven. Thank you for sharing!!!

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCDP

From The Italian Dish:

Faith: DId you measure the eggs correctly? Even though it doesn't have to be exact, if you had way too much egg it's possible your batter was a little too wet. The batter is very loose, but measure the eggs and try again and see what happens.

Julie: Good question! One of my ovens is convection, which allows me to do three sheets at once if I want to. If I do it in my regular oven, I do one sheet at a time and refrigerate the batter in between.

S.R.: I do not know if you can use egg substitute for the eggs in the recipe. I do not know. I'll do a little sleuthing on it, and if I find anything I will let you know.

CDP: Thank you!

October 12, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

When I was a child, my oldest sister had married and moved away. When I would visit, she would make little cream puffs and fill them with pink peppermint whipped cream. As an older woman, there is no more comforting comfort food I can think of that makes me feel the warmth of my family.
I think I will make some for after Christmas dinner !!!
Lovely. So easy everyone can make them !!!
Kisses, kisses !!!

December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMommajozy

mmmm i stumbled in here and im hungry now!

February 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGabba

My first batch is in the oven right now! Tip on the whipped cream - if you use powdered sugar instead of granulated, the whipped cream holds up MUCH longer without falling back to liquid, and tastes just as good. :-) Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and recipes!

February 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpizzicato66

Your "whipped cream" is actually Chantilly Cream.

March 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPastry Chef

I made these over the weekend with some family and friends.. We each picked a recipe from your blog.
We all really had a good time and the food was wonderful! Anyway.. making my second batch now for my kids.. can't wait! They are amazing!

September 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany Greuel

I love creme puffs but have never made them. I may actually try this. I am making your homemade vanilla extract tomorrow for Christmas gifts!!

October 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna S.

I am not young anymore, but I have memories of my older sister making little cream puffs, and filling them with peppermint and pink whipped cream !!! Talk about COMFORT food !!! When I was in my 20's many yhears ago, I decided to try them for myself. I folloed the recipe to a tee, but made the little mounds the size I wanted the finishe puffs to be............... YIKES!!!!! Don't make THAT mistake !!! LOL They came out of the oven the size o SOFTBALLS !!!!!!! Let me assure3 everyone that these are easy to make !!! Have fun !!!

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMommajozy

I see that you make them ahead. Do you make the dough or the cooked puffs ahead? I made these a few years ago and we loved them. I promised our neighbor them for turkey day, plus making 2 pies and stuffing, so make ahead is great!

November 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSusie

Just made these and I'm not quite sure where I went wrong :( mine came out tasteing very eggy and the dough spread a little when I piped it out, creating more puff disks than balls... I'll have to try again some other time I suppose.

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAvery

I loved making this for my family! they were so delicious and are now one of my husbands favorite! Thanks so much for sharing:)

January 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMariana

I can't wait to try, my favorite

March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCandace Gandy

i'm so glad to have stumbled upon your blog. the recipes you post in are simply amazing and wonderful. keep sharing and posting. CHEERS!!! have a bright year!

May 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Profiteroles! One of my favorite desserts.

May 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEllis

I just LOVE your recipes!! Your instructions & pictures are Grrreat!! Thanks!

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

As soon as I read this recipe I raced my laptop to the kitchen and started cooking. They turned out great, and I almost couldn't wait for them to dry out. My dad kept popping into the kitchen and stealing them before I could even fill them! Great recipe.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

what wonderful recipe, love cream puffs got to make them, i mkae mine with blueberrys mocca and others top with sugar.

thank you

July 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbernadette

Thank you!this looks so Yummy!i can't wait to try one!

April 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAna

Hi, I am 14 years old and I am hoping to own my own bakery when I get older. For my work, I am hosting a Christmas Party and I am going to make these! Wish me good luck! ;)

December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKBeeeee! ;)

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