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State Fair Cream Puffs

Total Time

Prep: 25 min. Bake: 30 min. + cooling

Makes

10 servings

The Wisconsin Bakers Association has served this cream puff recipe at our state fair since 1924. —Ruth Jungbluth, Dodgeville, Wisconsin
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Additional confectioners' sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil over medium heat. Add flour all at once; stir until a smooth ball forms. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and shiny.
  2. Drop by 1/4 cupfuls 3 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Combine milk and egg yolk; brush over puffs. Bake until golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Remove to wire racks. Immediately cut a slit in each for steam to escape; let cool.
  3. In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until almost stiff. Split cream puffs; discard soft dough from inside. Fill the cream puffs just before serving. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Refrigerate leftovers.
Cream Puffs Tips

How can you prevent cream puffs from deflating?

Cream puffs are made with choux pastry, which is known for its big air pockets. It makes a sturdy but light casing for cream puffs, eclairs and other cream-filled goodies. The air pockets are really important to choux pastry—losing those air pockets means that your cream puffs will be flat and gummy. In order to make sure you maintain those pockets, bake the cream puffs in the lower third of the oven, and leave 3 inches of space around each pastry so they have room to expand. Leaving space between pastries also gives them plenty of room for air circulation so the steam in the pastry can evaporate, instead of get trapped (which would collapse the pastry). Once the puffs are out of the oven, pierce the side of each one with a sharp knife to let the remaining steam escape. Skip this step, and the steam will reabsorb into the pastry, causing it to deflate.

Do you need a pastry bag to fill the cream puffs?

A pastry bag is best for piping the filling into cream puffs—mostly due to its capacity and the sturdy tip—but you can make due with a plastic bag if you don’t have one. A sturdy, resealable plastic bag is best. Place the filling in the bag, snip off one corner and get piping!

How should you store cream puffs?

Cream puffs are best served within a couple hours of when they’re made, as the filling may make the pastry soggy if they sit for too long. However, you can make the unfilled pastries and keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator and then fill them when you’re ready to serve. For longer storage, you can freeze the unfilled pastries in a single layer on a baking sheet, then transfer them to airtight containers once they're firm. They'll keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. When you want to serve the cream puffs, thaw at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before filling them. If necessary, you can reheat them in the oven for a few minutes once they’re thawed to restore their crispness. Now that you've mastered making choux pastry, try your hand at more cream puff recipes and even some eclair recipes.

Hazel Wheaton, Taste of Home Book Editor

Nutrition Facts

1 cream puff: 340 calories, 29g fat (17g saturated fat), 196mg cholesterol, 197mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 0 fiber), 5g protein.