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Cream Puffs with Vanilla Custard

Heavenly Cream Puffs with Vanilla Custard

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Discover the blissful combination of light and airy choux pastry filled with luscious vanilla custard. These homemade cream puffs are a delightful treat perfect for any occasion, from tea parties to special desserts. Follow this detailed recipe to create these classic French pastries in your own kitchen.

Ingredients

For the Choux Pastry:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs

For the Vanilla Custard:

  • 2 cups (480 ml) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping:

  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

1. Prepare the Choux Pastry

  1. Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Boil Water and Butter: In a medium saucepan, combine the water and unsalted butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the butter is fully melted.
  3. Add Flour: Remove the saucepan from the heat and quickly add the flour and salt. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
  4. Cool the Dough: Let the dough cool for about 5 minutes. This is important to prevent the eggs from cooking when added.
  5. Incorporate the Eggs: Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until the dough is smooth and glossy.
  6. Pipe the Dough: Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe small mounds (about 2 inches in diameter) onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake: Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the puffs are golden brown and have risen. Avoid opening the oven during baking. After baking, pierce each puff with a toothpick to release steam and let them cool on a wire rack.

2. Prepare the Vanilla Custard

  1. Heat the Milk: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until it just begins to simmer. Remove from heat.
  2. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
  3. Combine with Egg Yolks: In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually add the sugar mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly to combine.
  4. Temper the Egg Mixture: Slowly pour about half of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Then pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk.
  5. Cook the Custard: Return the saucepan to the stove and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes until thickened.
  6. Add Butter and Vanilla: Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract until fully incorporated.
  7. Cool the Custard: Transfer the custard to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate until completely cooled.

3. Assemble the Cream Puffs

  1. Fill the Puffs: Once the choux pastry puffs are completely cooled, use a small knife to make a slit in the side of each puff. Transfer the chilled custard to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe the custard into each puff until filled.
  2. Dust with Powdered Sugar: Lightly dust the tops of the filled cream puffs with powdered sugar.

4. Serve and Enjoy

Serve the cream puffs immediately for the best texture and flavor. Enjoy the delightful combination of crispy pastry and creamy vanilla custard!

Cook’s Tips and Variations:

  • Flavor Variations: For a twist, you can add different flavors to the custard, such as a tablespoon of cocoa powder for chocolate custard or a teaspoon of instant coffee for coffee-flavored custard.
  • Storing Cream Puffs: Cream puffs are best enjoyed fresh. If you need to store them, keep the filled puffs in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Unfilled puffs can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days and filled when ready to serve.
  • Freezing: Unfilled choux pastry can be frozen. Once baked and cooled, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze. Transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature and re-crisp in the oven before filling.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

Q: Can I make the custard ahead of time? A: Yes, you can make the custard up to 2 days in advance. Store it in the refrigerator with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming.

Q: Why did my choux pastry not rise? A: There could be several reasons. Make sure to thoroughly mix the dough after adding the flour to ensure it is smooth. Also, ensure your oven is fully preheated before baking and avoid opening the oven door during baking.

Q: Can I use a different filling? A: Absolutely! You can fill the puffs with whipped cream, pastry cream, or even ice cream for a different take on this classic dessert.

Cream puffs with vanilla custard are a delightful treat that combines the lightness of choux pastry with the richness of creamy custard. This recipe guides you through each step to ensure perfect results every time. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or a novice in the kitchen, these cream puffs are a delicious way to impress your family and friends. Enjoy the process and savor the delectable results!

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