Yes, it’s been long overdue. It’s about time we baked something for the Dessert section of our blog – something wonderful and light, like cream puffs! This is actually a dessert I enjoy eating, so it was fitting that we attempted our own version at home. Originally, we were going to make eclairs, but I figure cream puffs would be a good starting point to my first time making pâte à chou which is French for a light pastry dough. Five simple ingredients of butter, water, flour, salt, and eggs creates the puffed pastry for profiteroles, eclairs, and cream puffs. Since we just recently bought an entire jar of Nutella, we decided to mix in some of the lovely chocolate-hazelnut spread to the pastry cream to give it more flavor. The silky cream inside the flaky pastry is absolutely amazing! Overall, we had a fun time mixing, piping, baking, and making a mess in the kitchen. Now, what are we going to do with all of these cute little cream puffs?
To make the pâte à chou (pastry dough), start with 1 1/4 cups water, 1 1/2 sticks butter (cut into pieces), and 1/2 tsp salt and bring this to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to moderate and add 1 1/2 cups of flour and mix well until the mixture forms a dough. From there, transfer the dough to a mixer and beat in 5 eggs, 1 at a time, on high speed. The batter should be stiff enough to just hold soft peaks, so it will be easy to pipe.
This was the fun part - piping the pastry batter! This goes into a 375-degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on the outside. Let rest while you work on the pastry cream.
For the pastry cream, we referred to the recipe Daniel used in culinary school. In a saucepan, pour in 16 oz. milk, 3 1/2 oz. sugar, and 1/4 vanilla bean (cut and scraped out). Bring this mixture to a scald. In a separate bowl, whisk 4 egg yolks and 3 1/2 tbsp cornstarch and temper in the hot milk (this is so that the eggs don't curdle). Then add this mixture into the saucepan and heat over medium until cornstarch taste is gone and begins to boil.
The pastry cream is strained over butter and chilled in an ice bath to help it get thick. This is when we mixed in 1 tbsp of Nutella!
We piped the Nutella pastry cream into each puffed pastry, thus turning it into a cream puff.
Each bite of the cream puff proves to be decadent and delicious. Once you've mastered the pâte à chou recipe, you can be creative and fill it with whatever cream or custard you'd like - and of course, make those long fancy eclairs! Stay tuned for that!
To view or print-out this recipe, click here: Cream Puffs with Nutella Pastry Cream