Cream puffs, profiteroles, éclairs of a different shape, or choux a la crème are all the same delicious thing. Darling little pastry puffs that bake up light, airy, and practically hollow in the middle and are filled with vanilla pastry cream. Then drizzled with melted chocolate. I love vanilla, I love chocolate, but my very favorite things are a combo of the two.
I was browsing through the cookbook section at the library and came across a picture of éclairs on the back of one (Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table). Like, the most delicious picture of éclairs you’ve ever seen. Once I saw that picture I could not stop thinking about making éclairs for myself IMMEDIATELY. After obsessing over cream puffs for about an hour I dropped everything, went to the store to gather my supplies, and got cooking. I tend to be a little impulsive like that. But hey! It’s fun! I made cream puffs, I’m not doing anything dangerous!
They’re not difficult to make, but there are quite a few components. You could easily split this up over a few days if you’d like. The pastry dough, once plopped into little balls on a baking sheet, can be frozen and then baked (from the frozen state) at any time. The pastry cream can also be made ahead and then given a quick stir to loosen it prior to spooning it into the cream puffs. The melted chocolate step is easy – I just melted a nice chocolate bar (but you could just as easily use chocolate chips if you have them on hand) and then drizzled it over the filled cream puffs using a spoon.
Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cream Puffs
Recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table; a cookbook we highly recommend!
This is a longish recipe and has two steps. You can make the dough & cream filling separately – the magic doesn’t have to happen all on the same day. Make the pastry dough, spoon onto a baking sheet, and then freeze for the future. You can bake these from their frozen state, no need to defrost. Follow the same directions for baking as un-frozen puffs – they may need an extra minute or so, but that’s it. You can also make the Pastry Cream a day or two in advance – just store it in the fridge until you need it.
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 8 Tablespoons butter, cut into large pieces
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup flour
- 4 large eggs (room temp)
Preheat the oven to 425. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or a silpat.
Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a rapid boil. Add the flour, reduce heat to medium-low, and start stirring like crazy! I used a big whisk, you could also use a wooden spoon. The dough will come together in a ball, a crust may form on the bottom of the pan – just keep stirring for one to two minutes. This gives the dough the chance to dry out a bit.
Turn the dough into a large bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one. I don’t, so I used a hand held mixer), let it cool for a minute, then add the eggs one by one. Beat and beat until the dough is thick and shiny.
Using about a tablespoon of dough for each cream puff, drop the dough from the spoon onto your baking sheet leaving about 2 inches between each ball. *Once that’s done you can either bake immediate or freeze the dough balls for use later.* If you want to bake, slide them into the 425 oven and immediately reduce temp to 375. Bake for 24-30 minutes. They’re done when they’re golden, puffed, and firm.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 3 1/2 Tbsp butter, cut into small squares
Bring the milk to a boil. In a separate, larger saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. Whisking without stopping, slowly drizzle the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture. Go very slowly at first (first 1/4 cup of hot milk) after that it’s OK to speed up a bit. Keep on whisking, turn up the heat, and bring the mixture to a boil. Keep it at a boil – and keep up your crazy whisking – for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Whisk in vanilla. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk in the butter bits. Scoop into a bowl, cover in plastic, and let cool in the fridge. Your pastry cream is ready!
Cut lids off the baked cream puff shells. They’ll be pretty much hollow inside. Scoop the pastry cream in to fill them puffs, then put the lids back on. Melt chocolate and then drizzle over the tops of the filled cream puffs – I did the drizzling with a small spoon. You’re done!