(Includes raspberry, cherry, and lemon variations)
If you can make cupcakes, you can make cream puffs. They’re that simple. I don’t mean fancy, decorator cupcakes; I mean bake-them-from-a-mix-and spread-frosting-on-them cupcakes. They are not just amazingly good; they’re easy.
I don’t remember when I had my first cream puff. I was a kid. I remember that they were kind of mysterious—something magical. I had no clue how they were made but I sure liked them. Now I know how simple they are.
With cream puffs, you can be a successful pastry chef—a magician in your own kitchen. They’re so easy, they’re foolproof and so good that you’ll dazzle your family and friends.
There are three parts to cream puffs: the baked pastry shell, the Bavarian cream filling, and the chocolate topping. It’s not just the combination of tastes; I love the crisp shell against the cool, silky smooth Bavarian cream along with the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate.
Step 1: The pastry shell. The batter for the pastry is extremely easy. It’s only three ingredients excluding the water. There is no baking powder or yeast; these are leavened with steam. The key in baking the shells is to get your oven hot enough that the moisture will quickly turn to steam expanding the dough until it triples in size and then baking them just until they get a little caramel colored with crispy edges.
Step 2: The filling. Buy premade Bavarian cream. You can buy it cheaper than you can make it and it’s a lot less trouble. It comes in a two-pound squeeze pack. Cut a quarter-inch off the plastic package, insert the tube in the edge of a pastry, and squeeze. You’ll feel the pastry become heavier and start to swell as the Bavarian cream fills the pastry. It’s the easy way to fill cream puffs. It’s also the easy way to fill cupcakes with pastry cream.
When you’re through filling your cream puffs, fold the corner on the pastry bag over, put a paper clip on it, and store the rest of your pastry cream in the refrigerator for up to six months.
See what else you can make with pastry filings with this free e-book.
Step 3: The chocolate. You can use any sweet, high-quality chocolate. Chocolate wafers are made for candy making and have a smoother grind and more cocoa butter than chocolate chips. You can either dip your cream puffs in the melted chocolate or spoon it over the top of each. The hotter the chocolate, the thinner is the coating. If it is melted but not too hot, you’ll get a thick layer of chocolate.
This is the recipe for traditional cream puffs made with Bavarian cream and chocolate. Following are instructions for making variations like raspberry, cherry, and lemon cream puffs.
Discover a whole new world of cream puffs like raspberry cream, cherry cream cheese, and lemon cream puffs. You can make these by simply varying the filling and the topping.
New Fillings for New Cream Puffs
Professional pastry fillings come in the following types:
Learn more about professional pastry fillings.
While you can fill your cream puffs with any of these pastry fillings, they just don’t seem like “cream” puffs without the cream filling. You can mix the cream fillings with the fruit fillings to make a raspberry cream filling, a cherry cream cheese filling, or a lemon cream filling. You can do that two ways. You can mix raspberry and Bavarian cream filling in a bowl and spoon your raspberry cream filling into the cream puff pastries. We don’t bother mixing the two in a bowl. Simply insert the raspberry filling with a squeeze and then squirt Bavarian cream in through the same hole. The filling will be red streaked with Bavarian cream but no one seems to mind; the streaks are attractive.
Adding a Frosting
The topping doesn’t have to be melted chocolate. You can top your cream puffs with melted white chocolate or with frosting. You can tint your frosting or white chocolate with professional color gels and add flavors.
A lemon cream cheese frosting on a lemon cream puff is delightful. A raspberry cream filling and a raspberry frosting tinted light pink is a favorite. (We recommend Marsden and Bathe Flavors and Americolor Professional Food Color Gels to get your frosting the right flavor and color. They are both reasonably priced and Americolor comes in such a wide selection of colors like four shades of pink.)
We used this recipe:
3 oz. cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 t. vanilla or other flavor
1. Whip the cream cheese until soft. Add the powdered sugar.
2. Stir in the flavor. Add enough milk and continue stirring until it reaches the desired consistency.
Thanks for reading this article. Dennis Weaver is the founder (with his wife Merri Ann) and president of The Prepared Pantry. He has worked as a baker and has written extensively about baking. Don’t forget to get his free downloadable 250 page baking book, How to Bake. It contains the information that culinary schools teach professional bakers and will improve your baking.