So I’ve recently discovered that I actually love cream puffs. You’re probably thinking “DUH, I could have told you cream puffs are friggin’ amazing.” I guess I had never really given them a chance, but once I got a few bites in, I was sold. Those delicate little pastry puffs filled with fancy creamy goodness always seemed way beyond my baking expertise. But recently I had a hankering for cream puffs, so I gave it a go.
And BOY was I wrong. These were pretty darn easy. And friggin’ amazing. When I saw those babies pop out of the oven, perfectly imperfect and nicely rotund, I had a Legally Blonde moment. Perfect cream puffs. “What, like it’s hard?” I also couldn’t help myself from mixing it up with a little elderflower cordial. Ever since I bought it, I’ve been looking for any excuse to jazz up ordinary recipes. And this was the perfect application. Now, if you’re not feeling adventurous or you don’t happen to have some elderflower cordial on hand (like most normal people), you can swap it for vanilla and it’ll still blow your mind.
So if you’re jonesin’ for a puff, don’t hold back. Perfect puffs are well within your reach.
Elderflower Cream Puffs
and pastry cream adapted from
- 2 large eggs and 1 large egg white
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
- 2 tbsp whole milk
- 6 tbsp water
- 1 ½ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup all purpose flour
Pastry Cream Ingredients
- 1 ¼ cups milk (whole or 2%, preferably)
- 3 tablespoons elderflower cordial (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 3 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup granulated white sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- To make the pastry cream: In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together. (Don’t let the mixture sit too long or you will get pieces of egg forming.) Sift the flour and cornstarch (corn flour) together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the milk just to boiling (just until milk starts to foam up.) Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If you get a few pieces of egg (curdling) in the mixture, pour through a strainer.)
- Then pour the egg mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly.
- When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 - 60 seconds until it becomes thick. Remove from heat. Stir in elderflower cordial or vanilla extract.
- Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Whisk or stir before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.
- To make the puff pastry dough: - Whisk the eggs and egg white in a liquid measuring cup and set aside.
- Combine the butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring once or twice. When the mixture reaches a full boil, remove from the heat and stir in the flour until it’s incorporated. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a spatula, using a smearing motion until the mixture is shiny, looks wet, and tiny beads of fat form on the bottom of the pan.
- Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and run on low speed for 30 seconds to cool the dough. With the machine running, gradually add the reserved eggs in a steady stream. Once added, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until a smooth, thick, sticky paste forms.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill a pastry bag filled with a large round tip with the puff pastry dough. Pipe the paste into 1-½" mounds on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1-¼" apart. Use the back of a teaspoon dipped in water to even out the shape and smooth the surfaces of the mounds.
- Bake for 12 minutes, then reduce the oven to 375 degrees and continue to bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes longer (keep an eye on this since timing depends on your oven). Remove the baking sheet from the oven and use a paring knife to cut a small slit into the side of each puff to release the steam. Return the sheet to the oven, turn the oven off, and prop the oven door open with the handle of a wooden spoon. Leave the puffs in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the centers are just moist and the puffs are crisp. (I didn’t find the slitting and returning to the oven necessary. I just let them cool after they were done baking and they were perfect). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- There’s a few ways to fill your puffs. My preferred method was to find the natural folds towards the top of the puff and cut a small opening into the fold. Then, fill a pastry bag with the pastry cream and pipe cream into opening of each puff, until it starts to ooze back out. Repeat to fill all the puffs.
- You can top off your beautiful puffs with a little drizzling or smearing of chocolate ganache by heating up a little chocolate with a little heavy cream (in a double boiler, carefully on low heat in a sauce pan or slowly in the microwave) and topping off the cream puffs with the melted chocolate. Let the chocolate cool and harden on the puffs if you can manage to wait before gobbling them all down. Enjoy!