The Best Cream Puffs

I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I’m sorry. But those of you who really get me will understand. I know I gave you that rad Easter dinner menu plan last week that had about a 10:1 ratio of delicious dessert recipes to main dish options but in the interest of providing you with The Dessert that just might change your life and wow your family and friends, I couldn’t wait another second. I had to talk to you today about this. These.

Cream puffs. Mini cream puffs. The best mini cream puffs ever. And I’m not saying that lightly (I usually roll my eyes at the overuse of the term “the best” but it really applies here so don’t hate me forever or ban me on Pinterest, ok?).

Just to clue you in to the insane goodness: I squealed in my kitchen {alone} while making these. They were so cute, I just couldn’t keep in the delight. And that was before I even tasted the little beauties.

The Best Cream Puffs

These tender tiny pastries are so amazingly delicious – what with the super charged layers of luscious homemade vanilla cream filling topped with sweetened whipped cream and all. Honestly, after posting over 500 recipes the last eight years, I’m going out on a limb to say this mini cream puff recipe might be the ultimate combination of yummy + show-stopper to ever come out of my kitchen.

Does that crazy admission warrant a moment of silence? Because moments of silence are hard for me. So moving on. Will you just promise me you’ll try them? Pretty please?

I snagged the recipe from Sally’s famous post, which is similar to a recipe I posted years ago and kind of forgot about, and adapted them to mini size because a) I wanted to utilize my rockin’ 48-cup mini muffin tin (you can totally use a standard 24-cup mini muffin tin, don’t worry) and b) I needed to get Brian off my back to buy the Costco sized tub of mini cream puffs he stalks every time we are there (cream puffs are his life; mini cream puffs are his everything; and he reminds me every trip to Costco that I’m a dream crusher) and c) don’t we know by now that everything tastes better in miniature form?

The Best Cream Puffs

If cream puffs seem intimidating, I promise you, there’s nothing to stress about (and I’m not just saying that). I gave several tips in the notes section of the recipe to avoid the dreaded collapse but after making several batches of these, not a single cream puff shell died. Did some of them look a little spiky and modern art-ish on top? Perhaps. But I can promise you this: no one is going to remember the architecture on the top of the shell after inhaling the ethereal goodness of these mini cream puffs.

Making them in a muffin tin (mini in this case) is brilliant and makes the whole process so super simple. Honestly, I don’t think there’s even a need for me to post anything else ever. Mini cream puffs have totally completed me.

One Year Ago: Spinach Strawberry Salad with Homemade Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing
Two Years Ago: Easter Dinner Make-a-Menu
Three Years Ago: Red Brie Pasta Sauce

Amazing Mini Cream Puffs

Yield: Makes about 48 mini cream puffs

Amazing Mini Cream Puffs

Sally gives a lot of good information in her original cream puff post. I adapted her recipe to make mini cream puffs but follow a lot of her advice, namely that the cream puff shells can be made in advance (baked, cooled and lightly covered - not airtight or they'll get soggy - up to a day or so in advance), the cream puffs can be entirely assembled and filled with cream and dusted with sugar up to a day in advance and actually taste better filled ahead of time. Store them uncovered in the refrigerator.

Here are a few of my own tips to avoid cream puff shells that collapse or fall: follow the instructions to pierce the cream puffs as immediately as possible once they are removed from the oven, bake the cream puffs completely - any doughy or wet parts inside the cream puff will cause it to collapse - they should be dry and hollow inside, don't open the oven door while the cream puffs are baking (opening it too early and especially closing it too hard can cause the precious beauties to fall).

Also, it really helps to have a light colored mini muffin tin. If you only have a dark nonstick pan, try reducing the baking temperature by 25 degrees and keep a close eye on them so the bottoms don't get overly brown. If you don't have a mini muffin tin, you can follow the tutorial in this post and pipe the cream puff dough into shapes on a baking sheet (or into rounded mounds).

It may sound intimidating but I promise these are easy, easy!

Ingredients

    Cream Puff Shells:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • Vanilla Cream Filling:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream:
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Place an oven rack in the lower-middle position. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 24-cup mini muffin tin (or a 48-cup tin if you have one; otherwise you'll bake two batches of cream puffs).
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and butter to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula until the mixture forms a ball.
  3. Scrape the warm mixture into a mixing bowl (or into the bowl of an electric stand mixer) and beat with a handheld electric mixer until the dough has cooled slightly, 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating constantly, until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  4. Scoop a heaping 1/2 tablespoon into each mini muffin tin (about 1/2 full). I use a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon and do it the old-fashioned way (using my finger to scoop it out into the muffin tin). I tried a pastry bag but it was messy and hard to approximate how much I needed for each little tin.
  5. Once the mini muffin cups are filled, wet your fingers and dab them on the top of the mounded dough to smooth out any rough spots and even out the dough (this will help them bake into a pretty rounded top).
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes until the tops of the shells are lightly golden and they are baked all the way through (if there is any doughy moisture inside the shells still, they will probably collapse).
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and working quickly, use a thin wooden skewer to pierce the side of each cream puff and pull it out of the tin and onto a cooling rack. Piercing a little hole in the cream puff will allow any steam to escape. I try to poke the cream puff shell right in the middle where I'll be splitting it anyway to add the cream.
  8. Repeat the filling and baking process with the remaining dough.
  9. For the vanilla cream filling, in a medium saucepan, bring the milk and 1/4 cup powdered sugar to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and 1/3 cup powdered sugar. Slowly ladle or drizzle in the hot milk mixture to the bowl while whisking constantly (this tempers the eggs so they don't curdle and cook into hard bits). Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring and/or whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
  10. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
  11. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer (this part is optional but can help remove any lumps) into a clean bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the top and refrigerate until cold. The vanilla cream filling can be made up to a week in advance.
  12. For the sweetened whipped cream, whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks (I like to use my Blendtec for whipping cream; super simple and takes just a minute or two).
  13. Split each cooled cream puff shell in half right at the seam where the puffy top meets the smooth bottom. Spoon vanilla cream into the bottom of each shell and top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and place the top back on. Lightly dust all the cream puffs with powdered sugar.
  14. The cream puffs can be fully assembled up to a day in advance (they actually taste better if assembled ahead of time). I store them uncovered in the refrigerator up to a day before serving.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/amazing-mini-cream-puffs/

Recipe Source: cream puffs adapted from Sally’s tried-and-true recipe, which is very similar to this recipe I posted years ago, except made them into mini size, vanilla cream adapted slightly from allrecipes (used powdered sugar for a smoother, silkier pastry cream)

The Best Cream Puffs

56 Responses to Amazing Mini Cream Puffs

  1. Sheila says:

    I do not know if I can get over my intimidation of making cream puffs after all the horror stories I have heard. But you always seem to know how to make me a believer after I have read your post and carefully wrote instructions. I’ll re-read this post a couple times for courage before I take the plunge. One question: I have never heard of a wooden skewer. I have a much thinner metal cake tester tool. Will this work? Where do you get the wooden skewer? I’m sticking to your bundt carrot cake for Easter to ensure success.

    • Mel says:

      You can do it, Sheila! These thin wooden skewers are, I believe, from the baking aisle at Hobby Lobby and to be honest, I can’t remember why I picked them up originally but any type of bamboo skewer (for kebabs) would work. I think your really thin metal cake tester could work pretty well, too.

  2. Kim in MD says:

    I have always wanted to try making cream puffs. These look so adorable and amazing, Mel!

  3. Sheila H. says:

    I know the tub that your husband eyes and it is tempting and Sam’s Club too. I am more concerned with your sentence about being complete and not posting again. That would be tragic to my cooking life.

  4. Teresa R. says:

    I’m hosting a bridal shower for my niece next month. These look like a perfect addition to my food lineup. Of course I’ll have to make a trial batch ahead of time because I can’t wait till next month to taste them. Yum!

  5. I’ve never made cream puffs. You make it look very doable! I’m putting these on my “to-do” list!

  6. Laurel says:

    Mmm cream puffs. Yum. Lemon curd instead of vanilla cream is my favorite way to devour these beauties. I actually have some lemon left over from your lemon rolls, so Devine by the way. I think a batch of these is in order. You are right, everything is better in mini.

    • Dannah Pembelton says:

      Laurel, you stole my question/suggestion! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my homemade lemon curd and am not a huge fan of vanilla cream puffs, BUT you put lemon curd in the middle and yes Divine would be the word I would use too!

  7. Alisha says:

    I don’t see vanilla listed in the “vanilla cream filling” ingredients. Is that correct?

    • Mel says:

      Ah, thanks, Alisha – I actually left out the vanilla and butter (to create a silky pastry cream). I added it back in and double checked the recipe – all’s good now!

  8. Jenn A says:

    I LOVE cream puffs but have never tried to make them. I must try soon, but I also might have to take up running! Ha!

  9. I love mini desserts. Makes me feel like I can eat less. Unless of course I eat them over and over again.
    My favorite recipe made from Pate a Choux is an Eclair. Love chocolate and the cream filling together.
    Great recipe.

  10. Jess says:

    What is the best way to split them open to fill them? I feel like they would crush easily. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      I take a small serrated knife and just cut around the very center. The little shells are slightly crispy on the outside so they stay pretty stable while cutting open.

  11. Louise E. says:

    I have some lemon curd left over from a recipe I made yesterday. I think that might make a nice alternative filling for the cream puffs (along with the whip cream). I might whip up a small batch tonight.

  12. Emmy says:

    How do you think these would freeze? I’m loving the idea of making my own home-made Costco cream puffs handy in the freezer!

    • Mel says:

      Great question, Emmy! My guess is they probably freeze pretty well but I haven’t tried it myself and I don’t know if the storebought ones add certain stabilizers to the filling and cream so they freeze better. I’m thinking someone ought to try freezing these little babies and let us know how it goes, though. 🙂

  13. Mel! Would love to try these! I haven’t made cream puffs since I attempted a croquembouche a million years ago! The cream puffs were great, albeit a two day process, but clearly I needed (ALOT) more practice on how to spin sugar lol! What a mess! Everyone loves those little mini puffs from the freezer aisle. I love that yours are filled with pastry cream AND whipped cream. What a perfect bite of yum!

  14. Marla says:

    Tell me, just how are you keep from not eating all of them, if you make them a day ahead? My mouth is watering!!

  15. Nicole H says:

    This is the one dessert that my husband has hinted that I NEED to learn how to make. And they look so cute in mini form! I’m wondering also, if you think these would freeze well? They would be right up there with keeping cookies stored in the freezer for a quick/late night treat.

    • Mel says:

      I haven’t tried freezing but I think they stand an ok chance of freezing decently – my only concern would be the whipping cream layer and how it would thaw (might be a little grainy).

  16. Everything IS better in miniature form, and these cream puffs are completely adorable! I always have requests for that tub of cream puffs at Costco too, and I don’t really get it – they’re not even that good! Not bad I suppose, but not great. These are a thousand times better I’m sure! And so cute!

  17. Tyler says:

    Hello, just a quick question….when making the vanilla cream filling…..the last step is to add the butter and the vanilla…..is the butter melted butter, or are you adding it in as softened butter? Thanks for your response.

    • Mel says:

      Hey Tyler – I just throw butter in straight from the fridge – the custard is warm enough to melt it perfectly.

      • Tyler says:

        Thanks for the reply Mel. Another question….have you ever used granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar? And if I wanted to use whole vanilla bean, probably add it into the simmering milk when it’s heating up, yea? Gonna try these this weekend. Thanks for another drool inducing recipe.

        • Mel says:

          I haven’t Tyler but I think it would work just fine (the original recipe from allrecipes calls for granulated sugar). And yes, lovely idea for the vanilla bean – I’d scrape out the seeds and add them to the milk mixture.

  18. tess says:

    Hi mel! I love cream puffs and yours look cuter than cute! I’d like to try this in my cake pop maker. I hope it gets hot enough to make them puff (fingers crossed). My only concern is that every time I make cream puffs, the shells always taste “eggy”. Do have any idea why this happens and maybe how to avoid this? Thanks so much!

  19. Tiff says:

    I made these this morning and I couldn’t stop eating them!! I tried freezing a few and although they tasted fine, I felt that the filling wasn’t quite as sweet after being frozen (if that’s even possible?!). Either way, I liked them the best after being chilled in the fridge. So yummy! Now to get in the mindset of going for an early morning run to run all the calories off from these bad boys!

  20. Cami says:

    Thanks for getting this recipe out. Can’t wait to try them!

  21. Brooke says:

    I am making theses for a family gathering tomorrow, but need to double the batch so there are enough. Do you think I should also double the filling recipe, or do you think one batch is enough?

  22. I made this today for Easter. Everyone loved them. So easy. I made them on a cookie sheet because I didn’t have the silver muffin tins. Just used my large (muffin size) ice cream scoop. After they baked and cooled I split them halfway and filled them. I also put some ganache on half and powdered sugar on the other half. So Yummy.

  23. luci says:

    I made these and my kids changed the temp of my fridge so they froze and they were WAY better before. The texture of the filling and the cream were totally ruined, in my opinion. I would definitely not recommend freezing these. I liked them best after chilling for a few hours, but they were easy and so yummy!

  24. Rebekah says:

    I made these for Easter dinner with my in-laws. It was so nice to have a light tasting dessert after a big meal. While I love to cook and bake, I have never attempted cream puffs. They turned out great and I couldn’t stop eating them! I thought they would be great with a chocolate pudding filling as well. I did end up using only about half of the whipped cream. Should I have put on a bigger dollop? It seemed pretty full the way it was. Either way they were wonderful!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Rebekah – glad you loved these. I probably am a little overabundant on the whipped cream. 🙂 So it sounds like you did it just right – and exactly what your preference is.

  25. alyssa says:

    made for Easter – perfect and delicious! half as is, other half with chocolate ganache. I think I overfilled as I only had custard for about 3/4 of them (using the shells for ice cream, so they won’t go to waste). Brilliant using the small muffin tins and my blender to make whipped cream!!! thanks!

  26. Melissa says:

    Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe these mini puffs!!! I couldn’t stop eating them!!! Super easy to make too!!!

  27. Dona says:

    Love this recipe. I printed it off and couldn’t stop thinking about them. Made them as a surprise addition for my nephew’s Baptism brunch. They were such a hit. I saw some guests adding blackberries and raspberries from the fruit bowl to their cream puffs. How fun is that! Thanks for another winner!

  28. Lee says:

    I follow the recipe for cream puffs the outside is great the inside is always soggy I bake at 400 for15minutes then 25 at 350

  29. Lee says:

    I made them on a cook sheet but a little bigger

  30. Kristen says:

    I just made 2 batches of these. One exactly as the recipe read and then another substituting the all purpose flour with Trader Joes gluten free flour. Both turned out great. The gluten free flour needed extra mixing though.

  31. Bettyann Bonin says:

    I made these today for a party and they came out perfectly. Instead of using a sweet filling, I’m going to fill them with chicken salad. I like the idea of finger foods so that people can just get to them easier, ya know! Thanks for the recipe.

  32. LuAnne says:

    These sound yummy! Could you fill the pastries without cutting them?

  33. Arooba says:

    I made these and they turned out so great! I was soooo worried during the whole process that they would collapse but they didn’t! and Eveeryone loved them!!

  34. bonnie says:

    My mothers recipe is very similar to yours cooking time is the same but to avoid
    collapse pinch puff with fork and return to oven off let set for 20 min.
    I never lost a cream puff

  35. ME says:

    Just wondering if anyone has tried making these in the dark non-stick muffin tins at the lower temperature yet? Curious to know if anyone has had success with that, as I plan to attempt that method for Easter dinner.

    Thanks

    ME

  36. Karen says:

    I’ve been making cream puffs for years and still have some flops. I made these in my mini pans and they came out wonderfully! I left them in the oven for 25 min. just to be sure they wouldn’t cave in. I mix the whipped cream with the pudding (sometimes do chocolate) and pipe it in with a wilton dessert decorator. It has a long tip that you can just poke in the puff, so easy! Then I pipe some melted chocolate in a baggy with the corner clipped on top. A little like an eclair. It’s what is always requested from the family!

  37. Debbie says:

    How would mini cream puffs bake in silicone pan?

    • Mel says:

      Hey Debbie, a silicone mini muffin pan should work just fine (I haven’t tried it myself but don’t see why it would create issues). Good luck!

  38. Karen says:

    Ok,I have been commissioned to make cream puffs stuffed with chicken salad, and shrimp, enough for 30-40 people. Do you think it would work the day before? I suppose I could make them the day of, but I would like to enjoy this party myself. I am worried about them getting soggy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *