Amazing Mini Cream Puffs

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

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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.

Notes:

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!

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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