January 16, 2011

Cream Puffs with Custard & Fruit Filling

{ this might very well put beard papa's out of business. }
I wish someone had told me before how easy it is to make cream puffs.  It would have saved me a lot of money and trips to Fort Lee and the Upper West Side for Beard Papa's.  I feel it's my civic duty to pass on the knowledge and share with you how simple these scrumptious desserts are to make.  I may be putting Beard Papa's out of business by doing so.  Sorry 'bout that. 

[If you want to skip all the verbiage and just get to the recipe, scroll down to the bottom of this post.]

We had friends over for dessert on Saturday and then our neighbor over on Sunday to watch the football game (go Jets!).  I wasn't sure what to make for dessert for the evenings so I sat skimming through my Taste of Home cookbook when my eyes came across a cream puff recipe.  Glancing at the ingredients and the directions, I thought, "There's no way it can be that simple."

Well, folks.  I'm here to tell you that it is.

I did a research online for cream puff recipes just to be sure the one in Taste of Home wasn't steering me wrong.  I saw a few and they seemed relatively similar but had different suggestions for the filling. 

In reading the reviews for a cream puff recipe on Allrecipes.com, I got a little concerned and thought maybe this isn't as simple as it seems.  A few of the reviews complained about the dough appearing too runny after adding the 4 eggs (some suggest beating in the first 3 and then adding the 4th if the texture isn't right).  I have no idea what the right texture is supposed to be like, but I went ahead and added the 4th egg and it turned out beautifully.

{ the dough is ready to go in the oven }
Another common comment I read was that the pastry didn't puff and it turned out flat.  A few reviewers claimed you had to poke a hole while the pastry was baking to make sure it would puff.  Being paranoid, I took the precaution of taking this step.  So 20 minutes into the baking process, I took a chopstick and popped a hole in 10 out of the 12 puffs.  I wanted to see what would happen to the couple that didn't get "popped".

{ this puff didn't get "popped" and rose to the occasion }
Well, they turned out just as beautiful as the rest.  So I'm not sure this extra step needs to be taken, but I guess it couldn't hurt.  But it is important to make sure it's cooked through to the center, otherwise it will get soggy and sag.  And other reviewers said it's helpful to let it sit in the oven with the door ajar for a minute or so after they're done baking to prevent collapsing.  I didn't do this either.  I just transfered them immediately to a wire rack, and it turned out just fine.

They all turned out quite beautifully.

{ perfect puffs }
And when you open them up, they're just begging to be filled with some sweet custard and fruit goodness. 
{ "fill me!" }
Oh yeah, like that.

It was nice knowing you Beard Papa's.

Cream Puffs with Custard and Fruit Filling
{ Prep time: 30 minutes; Bake time: 30 minutes; Yields: 12 puffs }

For pastry puff:
1/3 cup butter, cubed
1 cup water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For filling:
1 (5.1 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 cup strawberries, sliced


  1. Mix together vanilla instant pudding mix, cream and milk.  Cover and refrigerate to set.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. In a small pot, bring water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil over medium heat.  Once boiling, add flour all at once and with a wooden spoon, stir until a smooth ball forms.  Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.  Transfer dough to a stand mixer.  Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each until dough is smooth and shiny.  Mix in the vanilla.  Drop by 2 rounded tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto baking sheet.
  4. Place sheet on middle rack in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Centers should be dry (check with toothpick).  Transfer to wire rack to cool.
  5. While shells are cooling, remove pudding mix from the fridge.  Fold in 1 cup of whipped topping and mix.  When the shells are cool, split and fill with custard and then layer on sliced strawberries.  Replace cream puff tops and dust with confectioners sugar.  You can refrigerate until ready to serve.*
*Tip:  It's best to keep the pastry and custard separate until ready to serve to prevent the cream puff from getting soggy. 
Next time, I'm going to try this with chocolate and banana pudding mix. 



  1. YUM... you could definitely give Beard Papa's a run for their money with these! btw, i could've told you it was easy to make cream puffs! ;) i just discovered this as well this past year... i love the pastry cream recipe that i found on annie's eats: http://annies-eats.com/2010/01/22/cream-puffs/

    check it out if you don't want to use the instant stuff in your cream... SO good!

  2. Ooh, Annies Eats is such a nice blog! And she's a physician by day?? Crazy. Thanks for the tip, Lillian. I will have to try her pastry filling, but I kind of like the instant mix because it's easy and tasty! :)

    If only I had known you earlier, I could have saved some money from Beard Papa's. :)

    Btw, is this another dessert you can't enjoy b/c of the lactose thing? :(

  3. It looks delicious. Thank you for sharing!!!

  4. Oh, my, those look fabulous!!! I love making cream puffs, but will need to try your delicious filling...yum!

  5. Hi Rachel-Found you through Foodbuzz, and I'm glad I did. Your cream puffs deserve to be on Top 9, it's so beautiful, light, and perfect.
    Love your research on it, and the cute story behind it. Never heard of Beard Papa's but I see they are here in S. Florida too, about an hour drive from me.
    No need to take the drive, will try out your amazing winning recipe.
    Following your blog, and will look for you on twitter to follow.
    I have a giveaway-come and visit my blog, follow, as well!

  6. @Lizzy - You can't go wrong w/ this filling, and it's just so easy to make.

    @Elisabeth - Thank you for your comment. Beard Papa's has the most amazing cream puffs...that was until I discovered how easy they are to make in one's own kitchen! Btw, the sausage on your blog looks deadly but delicious! :)

  7. rachel, when it comes to desserts, any food intolerances go out the window for me... i usually take lactaid pills if i'll be consuming lots of dairy but usually 1 cream puff or 2 is ok! LOL! =D

  8. great job with those cream puffs Rachel!! I would love to sample them!

  9. What a beautiful presentation and the taste...well I can just imagine till I try this delicious recipe! Thank you for sharing ^_^

  10. It does seem like there should be more to making cream puffs. ;) These look just lovely.

  11. @Chef Dennis and Mateja - Thank you! I hope you'll try this recipe and enjoy the finished product!

    @briarrose - Thank you. I really was amazed how easy these were to make and that I got it right on the first try (doesn't always work out that way). :)

  12. FABULOUS! And you said mine is beautiful :)


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