Baking 101: Choux Pastry

Don’t be alarmed – this is going to be SO easy – promise!

I love a good multi-tasker – whether it’s a little black dress or a multi-purpose kitchen tool, I tend to gravitate toward those things that can serve a variety of uses.

This holds true for recipes too. And choux pastry is one of the best multi-taskers I know.

choux pastry cream puffs

Pronounced “shoo pastry”, this is a very simple dough – requiring basic kitchen ingredients and no special skills – that is easy to master and can go sweet as well as savory. Think cream puffs, eclairs, profiteroles and cheese puffs – they’re all made from the same basic recipe, with just a few tweaks.

choux pastry cream puffs

I’m sharing my recipe for the “sweet” variation – which you can pipe large or small and fill with ice cream, whipped cream or pastry cream. This makes for an impressive summer dessert that can be made ahead. For savory cheese puffs (also known as “gougeres”), click here.

choux pastry cream puffs

I like to use my electric mixer but this is one of those recipes that can easily be executed by hand – just be sure to work swiftly and thoroughly to incorporate each egg before adding the next.

Sweet Choux Pastry for Cream Puffs (adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

Ingredients

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. each whole milk and water
  • 1 stick (1/2 c.) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 4 eggs, room temperature

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place flour in the bowl of your electric mixer. Break the eggs into a small bowl. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2" plain tip (or snip 1 1/2" corner from a large ziploc bag).
  2. In a medium saucepan combine the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt. Heat to boiling over medium heat. Immediately add to flour in your mixer bowl and beat on low till the mixture looks dry and has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add one egg. Beat until the egg is fully incorporated and the batter looks smooth. Repeat with remaining 3 eggs. Scoop the dough into your prepared pastry bag and pipe circles 2-2 1/2? in diameter onto your baking sheets. (At this point you can freeze the dough on the baking sheets. When frozen, transfer puffs to a freezer bag for up to one month. Do not defrost before baking.)
  4. Bake for 10 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 25 minutes, or till golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove puffs to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Just before serving, slice the tops of the puffs off using a serrated knife (do not discard tops). Push any soft dough toward the inner “walls” of the rounds. Fit another pastry bag with a 1/2" star tip (or use a large ziploc bag with the corner snipped). Fill the bag with whipped heavy cream. Fill each puff with cream and replace the tops. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve immediately.
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