The goal with my blog is to offer healthy recipes and options, MOST of the time. But this jewel of a recipe just has to be shared and I’ve been waiting months to present my Aunt Pat’s famous cream puff recipe to you. You’ll swear they are the best cream puffs you’ve ever seen, because they are gorgeous. And when you taste them? Real sweetened whipped cream and delicious creamy custard in a perfect golden crust. Yes, they’ll also be the best cream puffs you’ve ever tasted.
These little beauties have been the star of our family’s Easter dinners since I can remember. When they come through the front door I am sure they’re backlit with heavenly light. My husband worries I’m giving away some family secret by sharing it. But, I’m generous. And I would love if these became a family tradition for you too.
This began as a cute little recipe clipping titled ‘Ingrid’s Austrian Cream Puffs’ which ran in our local newspaper. So long ago that Ingrid is also listed in parenthesis as Mrs. James L. So-and-so. I did a little research and found out that Ingrid was once a member of the Austrian Olympic Diving team. She gave up her Olympic dream and nursing career all for love and followed James to Utah after nursing his war wounds in Austria. I’m so glad she submitted the recipe and even more grateful that my cute and hip Auntie cut it out, improved it and has been making them for our family ever since.
In the printed article, Ingrid temps us by saying “This recipe has a double treat. The cream puffs are filled with homemade custard cream filling and topped with real whipped cream, to make them a melt-in-your-mouth pastry.” And they do melt in your mouth. Seriously. Look.At.This!
Enough introduction. Let’s “dive in” and let Ingrid present you with this deceptively easy, amazing treat.
Cook’s note: Don’t be intimated by the lengthy instructions. I try to be as detailed as possible here to make the cream puffs assured perfection for you.
- Cream Puff Shells
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter, 1 stick
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- Custard Cream Filling
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups milk, heated to warm
- 4 egg yolks, beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- For the sweetened whip cream:
- 1 pint whipping cream
- Granulated sugar to taste
- Vanilla to taste
- Confectioners' sugar
- Cook's note: You will need a total of 8 eggs for this recipe, but you use 4 eggs in the cream puff shells, and then 4 egg YOKES for the custard.
- For the cream puff shells:
Place oven rack one place below middle. Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Set aside a regular muffin pan (12 or more), very lightly buttered. Note: If you can, use a regular aluminum muffin pan, NOT a dark non-stick pan (see notes for more information). The puffs will be much bigger with the regular silver tin pan.
- In a medium sauce pan, bring water and butter to a low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add flour, stirring well until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Stir in eggs, one at a time, beating with spoon or large fork until dough is smooth. Beat additional 10 to 15 seconds as this will increase the volume of the dough.
- Using a tablespoon, drop dough into deep muffin tins. This doesn't have to be an exact measurement, but depending on how big you want your shells to be. Divide all the batter between 12 muffins.
- Bake shells in 400F degree oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Important that the puffs are golden/crisp or they may collapse. Even when they look done, I leave them in a full minute or so longer. Remove from oven and cool completely.
- (The shells can be prepared the day before. Just lightly cover with foil when completely cooled and let sit at room temperature.)
- Cook's note: Ingrid baked the shells on a baking sheet about three inches apart, but my smart aunt decided the muffin tins make a nice shape to hold the cream. Either method works, but Ingrid's way will produce a little flatter shaped shell.
- For the custard cream filling:
- Place the 4 egg yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk them together and set aside.
- Mix sugar, flour and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir in warm milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Mixture will thicken and bubble. Once it starts to bubble, cook one minute more while still stirring.
- Remove from heat. Quickly whisk about half of the mixture into beaten egg yolks.
- Blend this back into remaining hot mixture in the saucepan. Whisk constantly until mixture starts to bubble again. Cook for another 30 seconds or so but do not stop whisking.
- Remove from heat and add vanilla (Use good quality vanilla since this flavor is the base of the entire filling.) Set aside, cover with plastic wrap and let cool completely. You can set the custard in the refrigerator to cool quickly. The custard will continue to thicken as it cools.
- For the sweetened whipped cream:
- Whip your cream using electric beaters or stand mixer and add sugar and vanilla to your liking.
- Assembling the cream puffs:
- Pour about one cup powdered sugar into a bowl to dip the cream puffs in.
- Cut off shell tops and scoop out the insides of top and bottom to make room for the custard and whipped cream. The insides should be moist, almost wet. Totally normal. Just pull that all out.
- Dip the bottom of the puff into powdered sugar, then repeat with top of puff. This will coat the puffs more than dusting and gives a "French pastry" decadent look to the finished cream puffs.
- Fill bottom of puff with Custard Cream Filling. Top generously with sweetened whipped cream.
- Replace top of puff. Place puffs in refrigerator, uncovered, chilling for 4 hours. Do not cover the puffs in fridge or you run the risk of the powdered sugar evaporating. Puffs can remain in the refrigerator overnight this way.
- More notes for preparing ahead of time:
- You may completely assemble cream puffs the night before serving, they actually get better over time. Cover loosely with foil.
- For transporting, place completed cream puffs back into muffin tins, cover lightly with foil and they're ready to go!
- Makes 12 cream puffs if made in muffin tin.
As stated before, you need a total of 8 eggs for this recipe.
Also, a key component to recipe success in getting the puff shells to rise high is to use a natural aluminum muffin pan rather than a non-stick pan.
These have wholly become Pat’s Famous Cream Puffs and are aptly named. Recipe can easily be increased by one and a half or doubled, which I highly recommend for a large crowd. They’re still perfectly delicious the next day. Adapted by Pat Rock from Ingrid’s Austrian Cream Puffs newspaper recipe featured in The Salt Lake Tribune, circa 1970.