I have never, EVER made cream puffs – they just seemed so hard to do. I mean, they are light and fluffy AND the filling is perfectly sweet without being too sweet. I decided to tackle this head on. Found a good recipe (or two) from cookbooks I had and combined the best of both and went on my way.
Let’s start with the cream puff dough. This is the easiest dough you will EVER make, no lie! A couple of hints – make sure your eggs are at room temperature, and have your ingredients right there beside you – all measured out. You can mix this by hand with a sturdy wooden spoon or use your stand mixer. I chose to use my mixer. Place parchment paper on your baking sheets. You may have to bake the puffs in batches, as I did. Do not grease any pan. You will be spooning the dough by tablespoons on the sheets. This amount will double in size (maybe even slightly more) when baked. I actually used a tablespoon measuring spoon and the result was great. I got about 27 puffs from this dough.
Now, the creamy filling – The recipe for the filling I am using is called Holland Cream. It tastes just like the cream filling in donuts or cream puffs (haha!) It uses clear vanilla extract which can easily be found at Michael’s. The clear will keep the white cream filling WHITE and not turn it an off white like the regular vanilla would. The actual cream puff is sugar free but when you add the filling,that’s when it becomes sinfully good! You can use the puffs for other fillings, such as chicken salad or even fruit fillings. Your options are endless!
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup water
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs (room temp)
- ½ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1.2 cup vegetable shortening
- ½ cup butter (unsalted and softened)
- ½ tsp clear vanilla extract
- 4 – 4½ cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
- In a large pot, bring water and butter to a rolling boil. Stir in flour and salt until the mixture forms a ball.
- Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl. Let cool about 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, turn on the mixer and let the dough mix a couple of minutes to cool a bit more.
- Add the eggs ONE at a time. mixing well after each. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment papered-lined baking sheet or an ungreased baking sheet.
- After your cookie sheet is full, dip your finger in a little (very little) water and push down the top just a little (so it doesn't have that Hershey's kiss top).
- Baked them at 425 for 15 minutes, then 375 for 10, RESIST the urge to open the oven door during this time. Check them out through the window. After they are done, place them on a cooling rack.
- Take a toothpick and poke a hole in the side of the puff, to release the steam. Your puffs should sound hollow when you tap lightly on the them with the back of a spoon. The centers should be dry and hollow. Let cool completely.
- When the shells are cool, either split and fill them with the cream mixture, or use a pastry bag to pipe the cream into the shells. If you fill them with a pastry bag, take this next tip to heart. You will thank me later. Take the tip and poke a hole in the side of the puff - do this for all of them before filling.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, stir the white sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is boiling.
- Remove from heat, and let cool completely.
- Pour the syrup into a large mixing bowl, and beat in vegetable oil and clear vanilla extract with an electric mixer on high speed to blend.
- Add the butter and the shortening and beat till smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl.
- Beat in the confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the filling is thick and fluffy. If it's too thick, beat in a tablespoon of water at a time until it's the correct consistency.
- If you have a pastry bag (a Ziplock bag will do just fine with your pastry tip in the bag and a small corner snipped off) have that ready also. I actually had a new cookie press that had the tips with it so I used that.
- Fill your puffs and then dust with powdered sugar to give it that "wow" factor.