When I was little I was big on all things fancy. When my parents were building my childhood home, I really really wanted my room to have a fancy chandelier and a canopy bed. They had a little more common sense and went with a light with little roses engraved in the glass, which I thought was pretty cool even though it didn’t have layers of dangling crystal. I loved porcelain dolls and believed in fairies and unicorns. Everytime my parents made a trip to Sam’s Club, I always begged them to buy those mini éclairs and cream puffs because I thought they were just so fancy.
They have always been one of my very favorite desserts. Did you know that they are actually quite simple to make? And they become oh-so-festive when you fill them with hot cocoa flavored cream.
- 1/2 C. butter (1 stick), cubed
- 1 C. milk (preferably whole, but I have made them with skim and had good results)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 C. all purpose flour
- 5 eggs
- 1 1/2 C. heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 C. powdered sugar
- 1/2 C. hot chocolate powder ( I used the Kroger Private Selection Double Chocolate)
- more hot cocoa powder and powdered sugar for dusting
1. Place cubed butter, milk, and salt into a medium stainless steal pot over medium-high heat. Heat until the butter is fully melted and the mixture starts to boil and get frothy.
2. Right when it starts to boil, add the flour in all at once and reduce the heat to medium. I like to have the flour ready and measured out right where I can grab it.
3. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon or silicone scraper until it is fully incorporated. Stir it around until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the pot and form a ball and a film forms on the bottom of the pan. It will be a fairly loose ball and it only takes a minute or two to reach this point after stirring in the flour. It looks kind of like this:
Note: The dough pictured above is a half batch so there will be more in the pan when you make a full batch. I used 2 eggs in the half batch and it worked out fine. I was also experimenting with oat flour instead of all purpose flour. When you make it, use all purpose flour (see note below about making them gluten free) and expect it to be lighter in color and smoother than this picture. But you get the gist of the whole “balling” thing, right?
4. Once the dough starts forming a ball, transfer it to a separate bowl. Let it cool for about five minutes.
5. Use a hand held electric egg beater to beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking pans with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Place dough in a piping bag and squeeze out a swirl of dough onto the pan, making a circle blob about the size of a baby food jar lid. Fill the pan with 12 of these and one other pan with 12 more. Wet your fingers with water and smooth down the bumps.
7. Place one sheet of puffs on the bottom rack and one on the top. Bake for 15 minutes. Switch the two pans so that the bottom one is now on top and bake for 10 minutes more.
8. Working quickly and gently, use a very sharp knife to cut slits in all the puffs. I use a paper towel to grab each puff so I don’t burn myself. Turn off the oven and place the puffs back in to dry for 15 minutes more.
9. Let the puffs cool completely. Whip together the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar until a stiff peak forms. Add the hot chocolate powder and whip just until combined. Place the cream in a piping bag and squeeze a squirt of cream into each cream puff.
10. Dust with a bit of powdered sugar and hot cocoa powder. Serve the day you make them. They decrease in yumminess if you make them too far in advance. Keep in an air tight container in the fridge until you are ready to serve them.
Note: I have made them gluten free before. I don’t know a whole lot about gluten free baking, but I used oat flour and it turned out really well. Not quite as good as with the all purpose flour, but better than I expected. I just ground up some oats in my food processor and sifted the flour so I could use just the finest part of the flour. I used it just like the all purpose flour and kept everything else the same.