Cream Puffs (Profiteroles)


Pate Choux is a french pastry or dough which is used to make eclairs, cream puffs, profiteroles and various other yummy goodies. Eclairs have been a childhood favourite of mine which I've always wanted to make myself. There's just something about pastry, whipped cream and chocolate that gets me going. These puffs are seriously addictive. You won't be able to stop at one, so consider sharing this with friends or family, because this is nowhere near healthy.

I've made pate choux before and managed to mess it up. I always see mistakes in the kitchen as a good thing, because I know I will never repeat it again. So due to these mistakes, I can tell you that there are two tricks to a successful puff. One is to ensure you add your eggs one at a time and beat between each addition. Don't add another egg until the first one is fully incorporated. Eggs are the main leavening agent in pate choux, so you want to make sure you incorporate it fully. You'll know you've messed up here if you end up with dough balls instead of puffs after baking.

The second trick is to bake the puffs for long enough. It's easy to think they are done because they puff quickly, but it's actually the colour you have to look for. It needs to be a golden brown colour and it will seem like it has formed a firm shell on top. Baking times will vary depending on your oven and the size of your puff so you really have to play it by ear. If you remove them from the oven too early they will deflate, which leaves no room for delightful Chantilly cream.

Speaking of Chantilly cream, you don't need to fill your puffs with it. Although I do recommend it, as it's my favourite. Though if you're not a fan of Chantilly cream, there are many alternative options you can go with. Custard or creme patisserie is of course the other common filling but you could literally fill it with whatever your heart fancies. I have seen Nutella and Matcha flavoured creams, or even coconut cream if you're dairy intolerant. Some like to go a bit bold with their fillings and add marshmallow or cookies and cream ganache. The possibilities really are endless. Pick a flavour and go for gold!

Cream Puffs
Makes 36 puffs

For the pastry
100g unsalted butter (use margarine for dairy free option)
125ml water
125ml whole milk (replace with water if you're dairy intolerant)
Pinch of salt
1 tsp sugar
150g plain flour
4 large eggs

Chantilly Cream Filling
1 cup cream
2 Tbs icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Ganache Topping
100g double cream
100g chocolate (I used 50% dark)

Decorations - Freeze dried raspberries or chopped nuts

We begin with the pastry. In a small saucepan place the butter, water, milk, salt and sugar on low heat. Once the butter has melted, bring it to a light boil then remove from the heat. Add your flour and mix. Return to low heat and cook for a minute. A film should form on the bottom of the pan and the dough should form one large ball. Once this has happened, remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

While this is cooling, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Once the dough is cool, add your eggs one at a time. Use an electric beater to mix in each egg completely before adding the next. Once all eggs are combined you will have a smooth dough that moves like lava.
Line 3 baking trays with parchment paper. You can use a bit of dough under the paper in the four corners to stick the paper to the tray so it doesn't lift later on.
Pop the dough into a pastry bag that has a round tip. Alternatively you can just snip of the end of the bag and forget about the tip if you don't have one.
Pipe little puffs onto your lined trays. Mine were about 4cm in diameter and I made sure to leave room between them on the tray so they can expand. Keep piping until all the mixture is used. Once oven is ready pop them in for 20 - 30 minutes. You will need to judge the time by eye. check at 20 minutes, if it's not golden then do not remove from the oven. Leave it in until you have golden tops, then remove and leave to cool completely.

To make the cream filling, simply add cream, sugar and vanilla into a large bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Put this mixture into your piping bag and either use a small nozzle or snip a tiny hole in the bag. Refrigerate until needed.

To make the ganache, warm the cream in a small sauce pan on low heat. Do not boil it. Once you see little bubble forming on the outside remove from heat and immediately add your chocolate to the pan. Let sit for 1 minute, then whisk until combine. It will take a little while to come together, so don't worry if it looks a mess to begin with.

When it's time to assemble, make a hole in the bottom of all your puffs. I used a chopstick to do this. Put your nozzle into the hole and pipe the cream until the puff is full. You will feel the weight of the puff change and you will feel some resistance when it's full. Fill all the puffs and then get ready to coat. Simply dunk each puff into the chocolate ganache and then set aside on a wire rack. Once all are coated, sprinkle with your topping of choice. I did some with walnuts and some with freeze dried raspberries. The chocolate will set on it's own at room temperature eventually. I prefer to keep these in the fridge so they set quicker. They are best eaten the same day they are made, but they will last in the fridge for a day or two longer.