Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Choux Puffs With Crème Pâtissière

Strangely, one of my blog's most visited pages is the one on Choux Pastry. Hmmm ... how did that happen? I'm a cooking blog more than a baking one - well at least, I much prefer cooking to baking - so I am baffled whenever I see my desserts stealing the thunder from my mains!

Whatever the case, if my dear readers like Choux Puffs ... then Choux Puffs it is. :) Over the weekend, when I made a batch, I took the chance to do a step-by-step of this beloved dessert of mine. I am no expert, but these recipes have not failed me once, so ... see if they work for you too.

Making the Crème Pâtissière
You can make this the day before and keep it in the refrigerator. I like to do it this way, so that I have less to do all at one go. Besides, the custard needs to be nicely chilled before you use it to fill the hollows of the Choux Puffs.

(largely adapted from Corner Cafe)
- 1 cup milk (236ml)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup caster sugar (55g)
- 1 drop vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 1 pinch salt (only if not adding butter, or using unsalted butter)
- 1/2 tsp unsalted butter, for additional shine and firmness

1. Whisk together egg yolks, 1/4 cup milk (60ml), sugar and vanilla beans. Mix in cornflour and salt (if using).

2. Bring the remaining milk to a scald* in a saucepan. Pour the hot milk in small stream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk as you pour (very important). Once incorporated, pour everything back into the saucepan.
* To scald is to heat to just below the boiling point.

3. Whisk the mixture over medium heat until it thickens and firms up. Remove from heat and whisk in butter.

4. Pour the hot custard into a bowl and plunge the bottom of the bowl into another larger bowl of iced-water to cool, give it a whisk occasionally.
- I just continued whisking in the same saucepan until it cooled down.

5. Once it reaches room temperature, scoop the crème pâtissière into a piping bag (twist the open end to seal up the custard) or into a ketchup bottle. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

A: Add yolks, 1/4 cup milk, vanilla beans, salt, cornflour in a bowl. In the meantime, bring the remainder 3/4 cup milk to a scald in a saucepan.

B: Mix your egg mixture well.

C: When the 3/4 cup milk is hot, stream it into the egg mixture to temper the yolks. You will get a pale-coloured, creamy liquid.

D: Pour the liquid back into the saucepan and cook on low heat, stirring constantly. It will continue to thicken as it cooks.

E: Add in butter. Just keep stirring until the whisk leaves swirls from the stirring. As it cools, the custard will thicken even further. See how gloppy it is?
Love the speckled look from the vanilla beans. :)

F: I like to store the crème pâtissière in a ketchup bottle because it makes the job of filling the choux puffs easier.

Making the Choux Pastry
If you have never tried making choux, let me tell you that it is easier than it looks, and a lot less temperamental than macarons. Step aside, Beard Papa cos Mama's in da house.

(from annamariavolpi)
- 1 cup water
- 55g unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 120g plain flour
- 3 large eggs + 1 large egg (beaten lightly)

1. Place the water, butter and salt in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil. When the butter is completely melted, remove from the heat and add the flour all at once.

2. Mix rapidly with a spatula until fully combined.

3. Place the mixture on the stove over a low heat and dry mix for about 5-6 mins. The dough should be soft and but not sticky. If there is a thin white crust at the bottom of the pan, it means the dough is sufficiently dried.

4. Transfer to a bowl and spread to cool. Let the dough cool slightly.

5. Add the 3 eggs one at a time, incorporating each fully before adding the next.

6. Add the last egg a little at the time to control consistency. You do not want a mixture that is too runny, else the choux puff will not hold its shape. If the mixture looks right to you, stop adding the egg. The dough should be smooth, shiny and as thick and heavy as mayonnaise.

A: Melt butter, water and salt. The moment it comes to a gentle boil, remove from heat and pour in flour all at once.

B: Mix rapidly. Do not stop. It will be messy and clumpy but don't worry. Just keep going.

C: Place the saucepan back onto the stove, over low heat, and continue stirring. The dough will magically come into a ball that will no longer stick to the sides and bottom of the pan. Make sure your dough is sufficiently dried.

D: Take the saucepan off the heat and add the 3 eggs one at a time, incorporating each fully before adding the next. Stir rapidly. It will get sloshy all over again but that's normal.

E: Check the consistency of the dough. If it is too thick, use some of the 4th egg (beaten). Add a little at a time. You do not need to use up the entire egg.

F: As long as the dough is smooth, shiny and as thick as heavy mayonnaise, stop. A fluid dough will not hold its shape.

7. Preheat oven to 190 degree celsius. Cover a large baking tray with parchment paper. Fill a pastry bag with the dough with a piping nozzle.

8. Pipe the dough into balls - depends how big you want your cream puffs to be. Press down any peaks gently with your finger (dipped in water). Otherwise, the peaks will burn as they bake.

9. Brush the top with the egg wash (I mix some egg and with water). Some recipes call for giving the puffs a quick spritz of water before baking, as steam helps the puffs rise better.

10. Bake for about 35 minutes or until well puffed and golden. The drier, the crustier, the better - you want a cavernous, not soggy, centre. Shut off the heat, leave the oven door slightly ajar, and let the puffs cool slowly. The puffs may collapse if they are cooled too fast. Some people make small slashes at the bottom of the puffs to allow the steam to escape and then put them back into the oven. I don't, and my puffs still turned out fine each time.

Now that you have your choux puffs and your crème pâtissière, you're ready to pipe! Using a sharp knife, make small slits at the bottom of the choux puffs. Pipe in the crème pâtissière that has been chilled in the ketchup bottle or piping bag.

You just made Cream Puffs! Place the Cream Puffs in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly before serving.

Now we're ready to eat. Bring out your tea set.

Bring out your Cream Puffs ... in all their naked glory.

Fill your cups with tea ... Earl Grey for me, please.

Give a light dusting of icing sugar onto the Cream Puffs. Afternoon tea is served!

"I want nobody nobody but choux, I want nobody nobody but choux."

Sorry, couldn't resist. ;) I am not a fan of the
Wondergirls ... although I'd admit, the tune is kinda catchy. Still, I am amazed at how we celebrate mediocrity these days. Ah, I digress.

Anyhow, I hope you found this post useful. You can use savoury fillings for the choux puffs (like egg mayo, hummus or tuna) and use the crème pâtissière as filling for cakes and tarts. The possibilities are endless. :)


  1. They are like magazine shots Ju :)
    This might not be a baking blog but your baking posts are always so stunning!
    Thanks for the step by step, I think I will be able to follow.

  2. Ju, the choux puffs look adorable! Beard Papa's puffs incorporate puff pastry - it feels like eating a cross between choux and puff...

  3. Yum! I will be thinking choux pastry all night. Have you heard Choux Pastry Heart by Corinne Bailey Rae? Lovely song!
    Happy week to you.

  4. I want to be at your tea party! O to be drinking earl grey tea out of those gorgeous cups and then having the delight of those perfect puffs with them! Heaven!

  5. although I am not fan of cream puff but after looking at your photos, I feel like making some. Thanks for the step by step effort. :)

  6. Your cream puffs look delish.

    I am ready to do this...the idea of using the ketchup bottle is great.

    Which piping nozzle did you use? Any particular number for this? Is it necessary to use one?


  7. You are having too much fun with your camera hahaha. I just made some Crème Pâtissière today and stored it in a tall glass. I should transfer it to one of the bottles you used. I forgot I bought two of them. Great idea and great process photos.

  8. Love the pics. May I have a bite of your cream puffs?

  9. My blog too.
    My cakes steal the limelight away from the main dishes. Biscuits/cookies get the worst attention.

    I love choux puffs, especially with durian custard cream. Can't wait for the next durian season

  10. Great clicks Ju! I love choux too and nope, don't like Beard Papa's filling, too creamy and not custardy to my liking. Yours looks great, I like the tomato bottle idea for filling, thanks!

  11. LOvely choux, lovely teaset and I want nobody nobody but choux too :))

  12. Beautiful puffs and I love your step by step tutorial and photos. Those heart shaped cup are so much fun. It really make me want to come to the party and have tea and puffs.

  13. Hi Ju! For a non-baker like me, the steps are mind-boggling. Haha. AFAIK, the Japanese love choux puffs 'cause they're light and you can eat quite a few at one go. Care to bring some for our June meet-up? (^_^)

    I like your Wonder Girls pun too. Min's a fan so I;ll show this page to her. LOL

    - R

  14. I totally laughed out loud at your rendition of the Wondergirls hit! And heyyy, great minds think alike; I've been dreaming of choux pastry as of late, and am planning to make them this weekend :) Will try out your recipe for the creme!

  15. The choux puffs are beautiful!

  16. your choux are beautiful. They are so equal sized and I love love love your heart mug.

  17. Your mugs are soooooo cute! I've always wanted to make choux but the cream...fattening =P yours look so good! and dessert posts are always more popular for some weird reason...not complaining, since I love sweets!

  18. I like your small and high puff-up choux. Looks so dainty and cute. I made it recently too! Seems like it's very popular nowadays huh!? Yours look so much better. ;)

  19. Beautiful photos....both the choux and cutlery. The choux look so pretty that I want some NOW!

  20. Love puffs! At least you can bake. I am still learning. And I can see that you are doing very well with this camera. Lovely shots :)

  21.!!! I love these, and your shots make me want to lick my screen! Really really nice photos Ju!

  22. Choux pastry I love but prefer those filled with custard (not cream). I don't see those as frequently as cream puffs now...

    Thanks for taking us through your tea-time journey...sweet!

  23. Ju these are one of my very favorite things in the world! Anything with pastry cream sends me swooning!
    Your puffs look absolutely heavenly!

  24. That's funny, I wrote a post once on how I'm "not really a baker" (it was for a Daring Bakers puff pastry challenge). But one of my most trafficked posts is my flourless chocolate cake! I guess folks just like their sweets. :)

  25. Your little choux puff are nice! I love creme patissiere!! I want some... , now :P

  26. Your tea cups are simply lovely. Can I have some of your choux pastry pls?

  27. Sono bellissimi e molto invitanti. Bravissima Ju. Un abbraccio Daniela.

  28. Wow, those cream puffs are to die for! Yours look perfectly round. Haven't you noticed it?

    Erm ... I'd actually take that as a compliment, be it cooking or baking. Haha! You should be proud of yourself, Ju!

    And my, your photography and styling are stellar!

  29. Very nice tutorial! I recommend pushing the pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer in case you get any bits of scrambled eggs.

  30. Hi there
    There are 5 food blogs that I visit daily for inspiration on what to cook. Yours is one of them. I love the way your package your stories - it is always beautiful and inspiring. I am so inspired by this post that I am gonna try this delectable looking puffs. Thanks!!

  31. love ur cups... and the choux looks delicious but I don't think I can pull it off!

  32. These look so lovely, thanks for the step by step instructions. I've only ever tried choux once and it didn't go according to plan - I think I'll give it another shot.

    I adore your cups!

  33. Great photography and nice yummy bakes there~
    Thanks for the tutorial!

  34. Ju I seriously don't know why you don't bake more when almost everything you bake turns out PERFECT!
    The choux look beeooteeful.... Yum. Store-bought gorgeous.

  35. When can I come over for a tea party? Beautiful shots- the tea set is adorable!

  36. your tea sets are really pretty! may i ask where did you buy those from?? :)))

  37. This recipe yield roughly how many choux puffs?

  38. these look delightful, and your food styling is looking fantastic!

  39. Your blog is amazing!!!Beautiful!!

  40. I happen to stop by here when surfing for food blog. You did a great work on puff! I wish that I can have one... :)

  41. I'm in love - this is perfect smalls for tiny desserts at xmas day. Thanks so much for the step by step guide.

  42. Hi Ju, just like to check on the quantity of vanilla bean used? (In the recipe it is 1 drop of vanilla extract). Thanks!

  43. Thank you for the wonderful recipes and step-by-step pictorial guide. Mine turned out great and the custard cream was super duper delicious.

    I am going to copy and paste part of yr recipe into mine (for my record only), but I will link back to you. Hope you don't mind. Thank you in advance.

  44. Hello Ju... I tried making these cuties.. but the choux pastry did not puff... it is flat... :( so sad... the creme patissere is yummy though.. Could you please help?

    1. Hi Su Yee, oh dear, I am sorry the pastry didn't puff. I am assuming you followed everything in the recipe. Did the pastry dough look like what is in the photos? If so, I can only suspect your oven temperature is not accurate, and you may not be aware.

    2. Hi Ju, Thank you so much for your reply.. Yes, I followed everything in the recipe and yes the pastry dough look like in the photos- thick mayo consistency. If the oven temperature is not accurate- are you saying that I should perhaps increase the oven temperature? I am going to try again- cannot give up yet.. I love cream puffss.. And I was thinking that perhaps I will add even less eggs. Do you think that will be a good idea?

    3. Hi Su Yee, yes I think you should increase the temperature by about 10 degree celsius. A lot of people have ovens with inaccurate temperatures and they don't know it ... Having said that, do keep a look out when you next bake these. You don't want to end up with burnt puffs either. ;) If you want to add less eggs, you can, BUT don't go overboard. Maybe 1 tbsp at most. I really do think you did get the pastry dough right ... it's just the oven which didn't do its job ... HTH!

  45. Hi Ju, I just baked it. It puffs very nicely after cooling. Only thing is I am not very good at piping the shape so turns out very ugly..>.< Still a novice to baking.

    Btw, saw most recipe uses "all purpose flour" and yours is plain flour. Does it make any different to the end-result?

    Thanks for sharing the recipe...


    1. Hi Liliana, Don't worry, it takes a little practice. :) All purpose flour is the same as plain flour.

  46. Great recipe thanks! Could you recommend a good light caramel sauce recipe to assemble them into a croquembouche?