Love and Confections: Cream Puffs with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

March 28, 2014

Cream Puffs with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

My Mom and I gave my sister a bridal shower recently and I made the dessert table. One of the first things I knew I wanted to make was cream puffs or profiteroles. There is nothing else like a homemade cream puff filled with fresh vanilla bean pastry cream. It is truly delicious

Cream puffs are pretty easy to make. The most time consuming thing is waiting for the pastry cream to cool down. I usually make my pastry cream a day ahead, just so it can be nice and cold when I get ready to fill the puffs.

Cream puffs are made with Pate a Choux dough. This dough is different from many batters because it uses steam for leavening, instead of chemical leavening like baking powder or baking soda or natural leavening like yeast. The high initial temperature helps create the steam, then the oven is lowered for the rest of the baking time.

Cream Puffs
adapted from culinary school recipes

Pastry Cream Ingredients:
 - 500 grams Whole Milk
 - 100 grams Granulated Sugar

 - 100 grams Egg Yolks
 - 100 grams Granulated Sugar
 - 40 grams Cornstarch
 - 75 grams Unsalted Butter
 - Seeds from 1 Vanilla Bean or 1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste

Pastry Cream Directions:
 - In a stainless steel pot (not aluminum) heat Milk and first measure of Sugar until sugar is dissolved and the milk is hot but not boiling.
 - In a medium bowl, whisk together the Egg Yolks, Sugar and Cornstarch. Temper* milk mixture into yolk mixture.
 - Pour tempered egg mixture back into the pot and return to a boil, cooking about 2-3 minutes or until nappe**
 - Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl of your stand mixer and beat on the lowest speed. Add in the Butter and Vanilla Bean Seeds or Paste after it has cooled for a few minutes.
 - Pour into a clean medium-sized bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.
 - It is best to make this the day before the Pate a Choux, so it has time to fully chill.

Pate a Choux Ingredients:
 - 240 grams Whole Milk
 - 113 grams Unsalted Butter (1 stick)
 - 2 grams Sugar
 - 2 grams Salt
 - 110 grams All Purpose Flour
 - 225 grams Eggs
 - 1 Egg for egg wash
 - Powdered Sugar (optional)

Pate a Choux Directions:
 - Heat oven to 400F. Prepare sheet pans with parchment or silicone mats.
 - Bring the Milk and Butter to a boil. Add in Flour, Salt and Sugar and cook on medium-high, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until a paste is formed. The mixture should form a ball or leave a film on the bottom of the pot.
 - Remove from the heat and place in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on low for a minute then add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure the previous one is incorporated before adding the next one.
 - Once all the eggs have been added and the mixture is a bit cooler, put in a piping bag fitted with a large circle tip. Pipe small mounds on the sheet pans, trying to not create a point when lifting off. Using a pastry brush, or your fingers, brush the egg wash over the puffs, trying to make sure there is no point sticking up.
 - Bake at 400F for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375F for the remaining time. It should take about 30 more minutes, or until the puffs are dry and golden brown.
 - Let them cool completely before filling. You can dust with Powdered Sugar or use a poured fondant or chocolate frosting. Enjoy

*Tempering: eggs are tempered when a hot liquid, usually milk, is slowly streamed into them, while whisking constantly, to bring the eggs up to a warm temperature without cooking them.
**Nappe: French term referring to a liquid "coating the back of a spoon". With pastry cream, if you run your finger through the (hot) pastry cream on the back of a wooden spoon, the lines will stay separate.

Until next time,


  1. Will you make me a fresh cream puff? I will say it's one of my favorites and reminds me of my cousin in ny, she used to make them for the family. :)