Tutorial: Cream Puffs

CATEGORIES: Kate, Pies and Pastries

Don’t run away! Cream puffs are super easy! You, too can make pastries! The very best part (well, aside from eating them) is that you can totally customize how big your cream puffs are and you can even make giant shells and use them to hold chicken or tuna salad and totally win friends and influence people.

Mini Chocolate Cream Puffs

For the pastry, you’ll need:

½ c. water
¼ c. butter
1/8 tsp. salt
½ c. flour
2 eggs

For the chocolate mousse filling, you’ll need:

1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 Tbsp. cold water
2 Tbsp. boiling water
½ c. sugar
¼ c. cocoa
1 c. cold whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the topping, you can either sprinkle them with powdered sugar or dip them in chocolate; I actually think they’re so tiny and perfect and rich that they don’t need anything more than a little dusting of powdered sugar, and that’s just to make them pretty, but that’s just me. Also, you can fill these with whatever the heck you want, although I don’t believe that pudding belongs in cream puffs or eclairs. If you have a great vanilla cream recipe, go for it! This is just a jumping-off point.

Preheat your oven to 400. In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, and salt and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add flour all at once. Stir quickly with a spoon until dough forms a ball.

Add one egg at a time, combining completely after each addition. The mixture will be very smooth and velvety.

Either drop the dough by scant teaspoons or spoon dough into a pastry bag and pipe them directly onto an un-greased baking sheet. Yes, teaspoons; they’ll puff up, but you also want them to be bite-sized. If you want larger cream puffs, you could use a cookie scoop to get a tablespoon of dough.
Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes or until golden-brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl. Let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool slightly. Stir together ½ c. sugar and ¼ c. cocoa in a medium bowl. Add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat at medium speed, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally, until stiff. Pour in gelatin mixture and beat until well blended.

Refrigerate ½ hour and then spoon into icing bag.

Gently insert piping tip into the bottom of each pastry puff and squeeze filling into puff, being careful not to over-fill. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (or dip top in chocolate) and refrigerate until ready to serve. These are definitely better the next day, so it lightens your workload to be able to make these a day or two in advance if you’re throwing a party.

Makes about 40 bite-sized cream puffs.




  1. You know, Robyn, I was just thinking about this very thing! I love Bavarian cream, but it’s pretty work intensive and involves either raw egg yolks or tempering eggs, which is basically pudding. My general complaint about straight pudding is that it’s just a little too thick and heavy for my taste, so these were my two major epiphanies this afternoon:

    –Use the chocolate mousse recipe, but omit the chocolate and add some finely-minced (or even pureed) strawberries instead and then dip THOSE cream puffs in chocolate

    –Use the filling recipe from the banana cream pie I posted for Easter (using vanilla pudding). While it has pudding in it, having the sweetened condensed milk and the whipped cream in there would fluff it up a little.

    So those are projects I foresee in my near future. If you try either one, let me know how it goes!

  2. That’s different than the ones I make. I put an indentation on the tops of mine and then fill them with pudding (usually banana cream, but sometimes vanilla). Then I top that with whipped cream. But these will definitely go on my list of things to try!

  3. Wow – that is amazing! Really, I never knew you could make those delightful little puppies yourself.
    The last picture is deliciously stunning!

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