Cream puffs are light and airy pastries that puff and rise in the absence of any agents such as baking powder or yeast. They are made from a classic French pastry dough, pate a choux. Water and butter are brought to a simmer, then flour is added to form a thick paste. Eggs are then added to the dough, which can then be piped into various shapes, such as cream puffs or eclairs. The dough’s water content forms steam which creates air pockets and rise in the pastry when baked.
Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel’s recipe for pate a choux has no sugar in it. Instead, an ingenious “cookie” made of flour, brown sugar, butter, and almond meal is placed on top of the pate a choux, which bakes on top and forms a sweet, crunchy crust. I had a little bit of trouble with the cookie crumbling when I tried to cut out rounds, but it didn’t matter too much. The cookbook recommends piping the dough into silicone mold half-spheres to make perfectly uniform shapes, but I simply piped them onto a Silpat, per the suggestion of The Food Groupie Club blog site.
The cream puffs were delicious and airy with the sweet crunchy cookie crust. They can be filled with ice cream or Thomas Keller’s pastry cream. The puffs are best eaten soon after baking, because they soften by the next day.
One does need a pastry piping kit to pipe out the pate a choux and the pastry cream, such as this set made by Wilton.
Level of difficulty: difficult (easier than the Bouchon Pain au Chocolat and Pain aux Raisins)
Cost: about $10-15 for 24 puffs
Deliciousness: delicious (4 of 5 stars)
Make again: yes
As I make more recipes from Bouchon Bakery cookbook, I have found that this book basically gives you perfect recipes for classic french pastries. Link to Bouchon Bakery cookbook here.