Fool-proof Cream Puffs

Also known as profiteroles, these cream puffs are the perfect bite-sized dessert. I prefer cream puffs made with pastry cream instead of whipped cream because I like the richer flavor of the egg and the silky texture that the pastry cream provides.

What makes this fool-proof? The secret’s in the can. Unlike bovine milk, coconut milk doesn’t have any dairy solids that would burn and create lumps in your pastry cream. The coconut milk is also higher in fat so the cream is more likely to set, with help from the cornstarch. The final result is an ultra smooth finish and a nice subtle coconut flavor to the cream. Another bonus is that canned coconut milk is shelf-stable and doesn’t spoil as quickly as refrigerated milk (I always keep a can somewhere in my apartment because it’s so useful to have!).

Fool-proof Cream Puffs
Total Time: 2 Hours Active Time: 45 Minutes
Servings: About 24 filled puffs

Ingredients: (Total Eggs Needed = 7-8)
Pastry Cream:
80g or 4 egg yolks
80g or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
16g or 2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
440g or 1 can unsweetened canned coconut milk
52g or 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
10g or 2 tsp vanilla extract

Choux:
113g or 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
233g or 1 cup water
120g or 1 cup all-purpose flour
3g or 1/2 tsp salt
120g or 2 large eggs (+1 extra in case your batter is too thick)
1 egg yolk, for egg wash

1. Make the Pastry Cream.

1a) Heat coconut milk and prepare egg mixture. In a medium pot, heat coconut milk over medium heat until a gentle boil is reached. In a separate large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until smooth; then whisk in cornstarch and salt.

1b) Combine mixtures, add butter and flavor, and chill. When coconut milk is at a gentle boil, slowly pour hot milk into the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Add warmed egg mixture back to the pot of milk and while continuously whisking, bring to a boil or until well-thickened (about 1-2 minutes, you should feel resistance on your whisk). Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Whisk in butter pieces to chill mixture and add final vanilla extract. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge while you make your choux batter. You can also stop here and use your cream for cakes, tarts, or eaten simply with fresh berries.

Note: The cream should be very smooth however if your pastry cream is clumpy, you can pass your cream through a mesh strainer.

2. Prep Oven & Baking Sheets. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Make the Choux batter.

3a) Make roux. In a clean medium pot, heat water and cubed butter together until a full simmer, and whisk vigorously to emulsify the fats from the butter and the water together. Remove from the heat, add flour and salt and stir until well incorporated and no dry clumps remain. The consistency will be a thick paste (roux). Transfer to a separate bowl.

3b) More emulsification (with eggs)! Incorporate eggs, one at a time until fully combined. The batter will look clumpy at first, but it will come together as you mix. After the last egg has been incorporated, check consistency of your batter- it should be elastic, smooth and should slowly fall off the spoon into a “V”. Depending on what kind of flour you are using or the size of your eggs, you may need to add an extra half-egg (whisked egg, poured into the batter) to achieve this.

4. Pipe, Egg Wash, and Bake. Using a round pastry tip or a Ziploc bag with the tip cut off, pipe 1″ rounds onto baking trays about 1″ apart from each other. Dampen your finger with a small amount of water and flatten the tops, then mix 1 egg yolk with 1 Tbsp of water to make egg wash. Brush rounds with egg wash, then bake trays in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool complete before assembly.*

5. Assemble. Carefully slit the cream puffs in half, then fill with your chilled Pastry Cream. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Q: What if I don’t have canned coconut milk? Can I use ___ milk as a substitute? You can absolutely substitute 1:1 for any milk you have. If you have full fat coconut cream, you can dilute by adding 1:1 coconut cream to water. Just a note that if you’re using dairy-based milk, keep an eye out for the milk to make sure it doesn’t scald on the stovetop.

Cheers!
-Jenna

*If you’re not planning to eat within 1-2 days, you can store the unfilled puffs in the freezer for about a month. Allow them to come to room temperature before filling. (Do not place your cream in the freezer)