After eating my first cream puff in Japan as a teen, I told myself I would become a pastry chef so I could eat this everyday. Well, I didn’t become a pastry chef, but I do make fresh cream puffs at home. The light crisp puffs filled with fresh vanilla bean pastry cream (Vanilla Crème Patisserie) always brightens my day. I don’t know why, but eating cream puffs make me feel like I’m an anime character. I was in full anime character mode while hunting down plump vanilla beans.
If you don’t have vanilla beans, you can use vanilla extract for this cream puff recipe. Also, if you’re short on time, you can use French Vanilla Pudding mix or Chocolate pudding mix to substitute the filling.
This recipe makes 6 large cream puffs
For the choux pastry:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- powdered sugar to dust
For the vanilla bean pastry cream:
- 1 1/8 cup milk
- 1 Vanilla Bean
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg and 1 yolk
- 2 teaspoon cake flour
- 2 teaspoon cornstarch
- Beat 1 egg and 1 yolk together. Add sugar and whisk until the egg mixture turns almost white. Add in cake flour and cornstarch and mix well.
- Start heating up a pot with the milk. Split the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and pod into the milk and scald (until small bubbles appear around the edges). Turn off heat, discard the vanilla pod, and pour into the egg mixture.
- Stir the egg mixture over medium-low heat until it comes to a boil. Continue to cook and stir for another minute, until the cream is thick. Turn off the heat. Cover with wrap and refrigerate.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Now lets make the shells! Bring water and butter to a rolling boil in a large pot. Stir in flour and salt until mixture forms a ball. Move the dough to a large mixing bowl.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time and mix well after each. Add Vanilla Extract. Beat until the mixture becomes a smooth glossy paste.
- Drop by a big spoonful onto ungreased parchment paper. Leave at least 1 inch of space between each one. Don’t make the paste too flat, or your puffs will turn out flat too. Try shaping them into a round shape. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes. Pierce the side of each puff with a toothpick to let steam out, then cool on cooling rack for about 30 minutes.
- Use a pastry bag to pipe the vanilla bean pastry cream into the shells. Dust with powdered sugar.