If you’re looking for a sweet treat for your next celebration, try this eye-catching recipe.
Filled with whipped cream and served with fresh fruit, this amazing treat is a perfect sweet finale to any meal.
In many European countries, they are a classic dessert, especially in France where smaller versions of this pastry are often made. They are called profiteroles, which can be translated as “little profit” or “little present.”
And that is exactly what they are!
The recipe has a tradition in Austria and Switzerland as well. There, the dessert is fist-sized and often served with a vanilla-flavored filling. Because of their fluffy texture, they are called “windbags” in Germany.
Cream puffs require a specific type of dough called pate a choux. Loosely translated as “cabbage paste,” the funny name is inspired by how the textured tops of these baked pastries look like small heads of cabbage.
Used as the base for pastries like this dessert, in addition to eclairs and cheesy gougeres, pate a choux is definitely an essential recipe to learn for your home kitchen adventures.
It’s a paste of its own unique style that can be a bit tricky to prepare. The paste is actually cooked twice – once on the stovetop, and yet again in the oven.
While it goes into the oven as a thick, heavy batter, the fully baked product is incredibly light and airy.
With no yeast or chemical leaveners, it relies only on steam. The steam expands the dough rapidly, forming large, airy holes in the center, a perfect home for any number of fillings.
But if you like it savory, the unsweetened base makes it easy for you to transform them into an appealing appetizer, as well.
If you have some spare time and a good supply of patience, you might have a try at making the very special and extraordinary French cake that is made of profiteroles, the croquembouche.
The name can be translated as “cracking in your mouth,” which is a reference to the caramel or sugar coating that keeps the individual pastries glued together in a pyramid shape. This extravagant cake is served at special occasions and is a popular wedding cake in France.
But I recommend that you stick to making the more simple options first! Try my recipe below now, and enjoy this French classic!
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Cook the Base Dough
Once the butter has completely melted, lower the heat and add the flour. Cook and vigorously stir until the batter becomes a thick, semi-dry mass.
Be careful not to burn it. This will take about 5 minutes.
There are typically two signs that the dough is ready: when it pulls away from the sides of the pan as a uniform ball of dough, and a thin coating of it forms on the bottom of your saucepan.
If you are using a nonstick pot, the white coating won’t form. Just be observant of the other signs that it is ready.
Step 2 – Add the Eggs
One at a time, add the eggs. Wait until each egg is thoroughly mixed before adding another.
Add each egg until the dough looks smooth, glossy, and gooey – but be careful! You may not need to add all of the eggs. You still want it to be firm enough to hold its shape when piped.
Step 3 – Pipe
Prep a pastry bag with a large, round tip. Fill the bag with the prepared paste. Pipe small mounds of paste on two sheet pans lined with parchment paper, leaving enough space in between each mound. You should have 12 evenly spaced mounds on each pan.
Using water to wet your finger, lightly press down on the tips of each mound, to create a more even surface on top when baked.
Step 5 – Bake and Cool
Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the mounds are puffy and golden in color.
Remove from the oven. Wait a few minutes before transferring the baked products to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Step 6 – Make the Filling
Step 7 – Cut
Once the baked pastries are completely cool, slice each one in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Remove any extra dough from the inside of each half.
Step 8 – Decorate
Transfer the filling to a piping bag fitted with a large star attachment. Pipe and fill the bottom half of each with whipped cream.
Finish the filled half with a pretty rosette design. Gently place the top half on top of the rosette, being sure not to press down too firmly.
Step 9 – Serve
Garnish with a light dusting of powdered sugar and serve immediately with fresh fruit.
Once garnished with any kind of liquidy filling, you need to serve them right away. The filling will soften the crisp pastries if allowed to sit for a longer period of time.
As another serving option, the cream puffs can be stored and served frozen, a perfect cold treat with a scoop of ice cream!
The Best Kind of Cabbage You’ll Ever Taste
Cream puffs are light, airy, and crispy pastries perfect for any party. Filled with sweetened whipped cream and served with seasonal fresh fruit, these desserts are heavenly.
And, much to their surprise, you’ll have a lot of fun revealing to all your guests that they are eating “cabbage paste!”
It’s up to you how many of them you can make using this recipe. You can either produce twelve larger pieces like it’s typically done in Austria, or you may make many small ones comparable to the version made in France.
What do you think of this pate a choux treat? Have you tried making this recipe at home before? Share your own advice in the comments below!
Want a taste of more delectable French recipes? As the saying goes… when in Paris! Try more of our favorite recipes that have a bit of French flair:
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Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published May 1st, 2015. Revised and updated September 14th, 2017, with additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Nina-Kristin Isensee
Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.