- For the choux pastry:
- 1 cup water
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 1/2 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 4 eggs
- For the custard:
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cup whole milk or half & half cream
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla
- For the filling:
- 1 1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
- 2 to 3 cups fresh sliced organic strawberries + 1 Tbsp sugar
- Powdered sugar and whole strawberries for garnish
- To make the cream puffs, combine water and cubed butter in a heavy saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as the butter is melted, remove from heat and add in the sifted flour and salt all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until flour is incorporated. If your flour is not sifted, make sure you squash any flour lumps. Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until the dough pulls together into a smooth mass (about 3 to 4 minutes) and there is a thin starchy film coating the bottom of the saucepan. The dough should be firm enough to hold a wooden spoon upright (or register about 175F on an instant thermometer). Remove the saucepan from heat.
- Allow the dough to cool down slightly, about 5 to 10 minutes (or until it reads about 145F on an instant thermometer). Once the dough is no longer piping hot, mix in the eggs one at a time. Be sure to mix very vigorously and incorporate each egg fully before adding the next one. This can be done with a stand mixer or a wooden spoon. Once the dough is smooth and shiny, place it in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Then drop the dough into 8 mounds onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Traditionally, the dough is piped onto the baking sheet and you can use a piping bag fitted with a large tip if you have one. My grandmother always just spooned the dough onto the baking sheet, mounding it high in the centers, and that’s how I’ve always made them as well. You do want some height to your cream puffs so that they puff UP. If you need to fiddle with the dough on the baking sheet, you can use the back of a spoon dipped in water (or water-dipped hands).
- Bake in a preheated 425F oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350F and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes. Do NOT open the oven door until after the first 30 minutes of baking. About 5 minutes before they’re done, open the door and insert a toothpick into the side of each puff, making a little hole. This will help it maintain its shape. The cream puff are done when they are puffed up and golden. Turn off the oven and jam a wooden spoon in the oven door to keep it open. Let the cream puffs cool in the open-doored oven for about 30 minutes before removing.
- To prepare the custard filling, mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in milk and egg yolks, cooking over medium heat and stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a bowl and place a piece of waxed paper directly on top of the custard. Refrigerate until cold.
- To assemble, whip the cream. Slice the strawberries, place them in a bowl and stir in 1 Tbsp sugar (more or less to taste). Cut a thin slice from the top of each fully cooled cream puff, removing any moist bits of dough in the center to make a hollow space. Place a dollop of cold custard into the bottoms, then an even larger dollop of whipping cream. Then carefully spoon the sliced strawberries on top of that. Top each cream puff with its little “lid”. Sprinkle powdered sugar all over the tops of the assembled cream puffs and add a few whole strawberries for garnish. They’re ready to serve!
Tips/TechniquesIdeally make cream puffs the same day you’re going to use them so they stay fresh. But if needed they can be stored in an air-tight container for a day or so.