Light, delicate cream puffs are the basis for a towering croquembouche, profiteroles, or a delicious dessert in their own right. They're made from a type of dough called pate a choux. In this video, I'll show you how to make choux puff pastries step by step. There are a few tricks to getting them to puff up the way they should, but once you try it a couple times, you'll discover it's a really easy pastry to master.
Pate a choux is unusual in that it starts out in a saucepan on the stove. You'll need 2-1/2 cups of water, 15 Tbs. of butter, 2-1/2 Tbs. sugar and 1-1/4 tsp of salt. Bring it to a boil over medium low heat.
While its coming to a boil, sift the flour for the dough: 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour.
When the butter melts take the pan off the heat and add your flour. It's important to add the flour all at once, because if you add it gradually, some of the starch molecules absorb more water and swell more than others.
Keep cooking the dough over low heat and stir it until it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. This dries out excess water from the dough. The drier the dough, the better it absorbs the eggs, and the more it puffs up during baking.
You should notice a slight film forming at the bottom of the pan when the dough is dry enough.
Put the dough in a stand mixer, hook up the paddle attachment, and beat it on low speed until the dough is cool to the touch. The outside of the bowl shouldn't feel at all warm-if you don't let the dough get cool enough in this step, it could end up getting soupy once you add the eggs.
Once the dough is cool, step up the speed to medium-low. Add 10 eggs, one at a time.
As soon as one egg is fully incorporated, add the next one. Once all of the eggs are incorporated, let the dough continue to cool for about 10 minutes more.
Then it's time to pipe the cream puffs. Use 2 baking sheets lined with parchment. Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe the dough into mounds, that look a little like Hershey's kisses. They should be about 1-1/2 inches high and keep 2 inches between each of them.
Once you've piped a sheet full, wet your finger and go back and smooth down the points on each puff; continue with the second sheet.
You want to heat the oven to 425°F but as soon as you put the puffs in the oven, lower it to 375°F.
Bake the puffs for 10 minutes (don't open the oven during that time), and then rotate the two baking sheets from top to bottom. Bake 10 to 15 minutes more. The puffs are done when they're evenly golden-brown all over. Turn off the oven when you take out the puffs. Then prick the side of each puff with a paring knife to release the steam. Return the puffs to the oven with the door slightly open to dry for about 3 to 5 minutes. This will prevent your puffs from getting soggy as they cool.
Finally let your puffs finish cooling on a baking rack. Once they're completely cool, they're ready to fill.
Videography by Gary Junken and Michael Dobsevage, editing by Cari Delahanty