If you’re looking for the irresistible Cream Puffs that have been served at the Wisconsin State Fair since 1924, you’ve come to the right place. These light-as-air pastries are filled with a lightly sweetened whipped cream and topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. Everyone has their own special way of eating them, but absolutely no one can resist the power of a cream puff.
When you buy your tickets to the state fair, you can even buy tickets for cream puffs; that’s how good these things are! Cream puffs use a French pastry dough called pate a choux, which is much easier to make than you might think. If you need a show stopping dessert for your next dinner party, just ask a Wisconsinite— they’ll tell you to make cream puffs!
What is a Cream Puff?
A cream puff is a baked confection that is sliced open and filled with sweetened whipped cream. I like to think of it as an edible cloud sent from the heavens.
Are Cream Puffs hard to make?
Believe it or not, this is a super easy and very elegant dessert that you don’t need special kitchen equipment to make. You don’t even need a mixer, if you’re willing to make the whipped cream by hand!
Can Cream Puffs be made in advance?
Yes, these are easy to make ahead of time. The shells can be baked up to two days in advance, and stored in an airtight container.
Can Cream Puffs be frozen?
Baked, unfilled cream puff shells can be frozen for up to 2 months in a resealable airtight plastic freezer bag. The shells only take 5 to 10 minutes to thaw at room temperature. Do not fill cream puffs until they are completely thawed.
How do you keep Cream Puffs from getting soggy?
First of all, make sure you’re baking them long enough. Once cooled, store them in a sealed, airtight container and do not dust them with sugar until ready to serve. If your cream puffs have softened in storage, you may crisp them up in the oven before filling and serving. To re-crisp; bake uncovered in a 300 degrees for about 5 to 8 minutes. Cool completely before filling.
How do you keep Cream Puffs from collapsing?
The big trick to keep the puffs from collapsing is not to open the oven until they’re done. Changes in oven temperature can prevent steam from forming, which is what makes the puffs so light. Also, I don’t recommend making these when the humidity level is above 45 to 50% or it’s actually raining. Humidity can effect the rise, as well.
When do you fill Cream Puffs?
If you’re filling these with whipped cream, pudding, or even ice cream, wait until just before serving to do so.
Are Cream Puffs the same thing as profiteroles?
Actually, yes, cream puffs and profiteroles are both the result of baking a classic French choux pastry, but profiteroles tend to be smaller, while these cream puffs are a little larger. Profiteroles can be served filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with a warm chocolate sauce, which, come to think of it, might not be a bad way to serve these puffs, either…
To make smaller profiteroles, place the dough in a plastic bag and cut a small hole in the corner, or a pastry bag fitted with a tip, then pipe them out onto a non-stick mat or parchment to make mini puffs. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, Let them cool in the oven.
What else can you fill cream puffs with?
Some people love filling the pastry with pudding: chocolate, vanilla, or coconut. You could fill these with lemon mousse and a strawberry sauce on the side. If you feel like ice cream, use the baked puff as the base for a sundae with hot fudge. There simply is no wrong way to enjoy them. Just promise me that you’ll try the classic cream puff, if you’re ever at the state fair.
For the puffs:
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
For the egg wash:
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 egg yolk lightly beaten
For the cream:
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar plus more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the puffs:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, a silicone mat, or nonstick spray.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring water, butter and salt to boil. Add flour and stir constantly until a smooth ball forms.
- Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and shiny.
- Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup or portion scoop, drop 1/4 cup batter 3 inches apart on to prepared baking sheets.
To make the egg wash:
- Combine milk and egg yolk. Brush lightly over puffs.
- Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Immediately cut a slit in each for steam to escape. Cool completely.
To make the cream:
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until almost stiff.
- Split cream puffs and discard soft dough from inside. Fill the cream puffs just before serving. Dust with powdered sugar.