Cream Puffs are one of the world’s easiest impressive foods. Make your choux pastry ahead of time, pipe or scoop the pastry onto a lined sheet pan, then freeze. You can transfer the frozen pucks of choux pastry dough into a zipper top bag and stash to bake later, making them not just impressive, but ridiculously convenient, to boot.
My husband turned eleventy one a while ago.
Okay, not really… He turned 52, but to hear the guy talk, he sounds like he thinks he’s butter scraped over too much bread. Don’t feel too badly for him, though. He is the only person I’ve ever known in my life who -when asked how old he is- rounds up by a year or two. Somehow or another, he combines this funny aging complex with a playful personality.
When we were dating, he once insisted, “I may be eight years older than you, but I’ll always, ALWAYS be WAY more immature than you are!” He meant it.
This is the dad who does back flips off of the swings when he goes to the playground with the kids (giving me a heart attack in the process.) This is the husband who panics over the thought of picking out a gift for me, yet still pulls off the coolest gifts ever.
This is the guy who lost track of time while photo-documenting the entire process of a snake eating a frog in the side yard, thus missing a family picnic.
…And whether he’s turning eleventy one or fifty two, I like to make his favourite foods. Enter Cream Puffs, stage right.
Cream Puffs are another of those marvelous children of pâte à choux or choux paste. I’ve already told you a little of my love for choux paste.
…but I have much, much more to share with you, and THIS is one of my favourites.
What do I use to fill cream puffs?
In short, anything you want. To expound a bit, they’re delicious when split and filled with savoury or sweet goodies.
From chicken salad, egg salad, or tuna salad to ice cream and hot fudge, but not all at the same time, Cream Puffs are so easy to make and so impressive.
What are profiteroles?
Profiteroles are the happy result of splitting a largely hollow cream puff in half and filling it with ice cream. HOLLER!
In this case, we then drizzle warm hot fudge sauce over the whole thing. Then we drizzle the hot fudge sauce directly into our mouths. I mean, really. This is Grandma Val’s hot fudge sauce that I’m using. I’m no fool.
Can I make cream puffs ahead of time?
That all sounds awesome already, right? Would you like me to make it even more awesome? ‘Cause I can. And I will. It is more awesome because you can whip up that choux paste, pipe it out into the shapes you want and freeze them.
Then you can have cream puffs and profiteroles any old time you want. You don’t have to thaw the dough or anything prior to baking. You just pop them on a lined pan and bake. The only concession you have to make for baking them from frozen is that you add five minutes to the cooking time. That’s do-able, right?
That’s TOTALLY do-able. Make yourself or someone else some cream puffs. Make someone happy. Then make some profiteroles and make someone ecstatic.
Cream Puff Cook’s Notes
- You can absolutely make the dough (choux pastry) for your cream puffs by hand, but be aware that it’ll be an upper body workout. It’s much more easily done with a stand mixer fitted with a batter blade.
- While you do need to form the cream puffs immediately after the dough is made, you can pop the pan into the freezer right after shaping or piping it if you don’t want to bake them right away.
- If you want to store the unbaked cream puffs for more than a few hours, just transfer the solid puffs from the pan to a labeled zipper top bag and squeeze as much air out as possible. They’ll bake up great straight from frozen for up to 6 weeks.
- I know profiteroles are delicious. Who doesn’t love ice cream in cream puffs? But remember that homemade cream puffs are every bit as delicious filled with savoury goodies.
Use these to make homemade cream puffs more easily!
- Stand Mixer
- Half Sheet Pan
- Parchment Paper
- 2 Quart Saucepan
- Sturdy Spatula or Wooden Spoon
Need homemade ice cream to serve with in your cream puffs?
You can try this amazing maple bacon frozen custard, 3-Ingredient Strawberry Ice Cream, Eggnog Ice Cream, Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream, Blueberry Frozen Yogurt, Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt, Cinnamon Frozen Custard,Mint Dark Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream, Vanilla Latte Stracciatella Gelato, Vanilla Homemade Ice Cream, Fresh Peach Ice Cream, or Berries and Cream Ice Cream.
Cream Puffs and Profiteroles
For the Cream Puffs:
- 1 stick 4 ounces by weight butter
- 1 cup 8 ounces by weight water
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups 5 1/4 ounces by weight all purpose flour
- 4 large eggs preferably at room temperature
For the Profiteroles:
- Ice cream
- Hot Fudge Sauce
To Make the Cream Puffs:
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet (or two) with silpats or parchment paper.
- Bring the water, butter and salt to a rapid boil in a heavy-bottomed, 2 quart capacity saucepan over high heat. Remove the pan from the burner and add all the flour at once. Stir strongly until the flour is completely wet. Return the pan to medium high heat and continue stirring strongly until a light film forms over the bottom of the pan and the dough is smooth and soft and forms a ball when stirred. Remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (or to a large, heat-proof mixing bowl if a stand mixer is unavailable.) Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. After the final egg is added, beat on high for at least 2 minutes, but not more than 4. (If beating by hand, you can count this as a large part of your daily workout. Beat it into submission!)
- You must pipe or scoop out your cream puff dough immediately, but there are two options for after you portion them out. Either way, begin by using a pastry bag with a large plain tip or spoons to portion the dough into 16 equally sized rounds on the prepared pan(s). I use a pastry bag to pipe circles, piping in smaller toward the top. Traditionally, you tap down the little peaks that form, but my kids like to bite those off, so I leave them. Alternatively, you could use two large tablespoons portion it out, using one spoon to scrape the dough from the other over the pan.
- At this point you can put the pan directly into the freezer, transferring the cream puffs to a resealable zipper top bag or freezer safe container with a tight fitting lid for up to 3 months.
To Bake the Cream Puffs:
- (If preparing from frozen, simply add 5 minutes to the baking time at the end.) Place pan in the oven, bake for 15 minutes. Do not open that door! After 15 minutes, lower the heat to 375°F and cook for an additional 15 minutes. When the time is up, turn off the oven and stick the handle of a wooden spoon in between the body of the stove and the door to hold it open just a little and let the cream puffs cool in the oven like that for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven. You can serve them immediately or cool to room temperature.
To Make Profiteroles:
- Break open a cream puff at the midline (much like a muffin). Place the bottom on a plate, put a good sized scoop of ice cream on the base, add the top part of the cream puff and drizzle with warmed hot fudge sauce.
This post was originally published April 2012, updated in November 2018 with a video, new photos, and improved cook’s notes.