I’ve given the simple cream puff a delicious makeover when creating these Cherry Cream Puffs. Balls of golden choux pastry (pâte à choux) filled with decadent swirls of sweetened whipped cream (crème chantilly), a dollop of fruity Bonne Maman Black Cherry Conserve and topped with a sweet cherry glaze. These are every bit worth the effort. My post takes you step-by-step through the process of making classic French choux pastry balls and filling them to perfection.
When exploring French baking, making choux pastry is one of those advanced recipes that you have to try at least once. This classic pastry is one of the most versatile pastries out there, with many ways to use it. I’ve made two delicious recipes with choux pastry in the past, my Chocolate Mocha Profiteroles Wreath and my Maple Syrup Éclairs and I know there are many more in the pipeline.
Along with profiteroles and éclairs, the list of desserts that you can make is pretty endless from this one dough. From simple Chouquettes and Beignets to masterful Paris-Brest, Croquembouche and Religieuse, it's time to tackle your next baking project. I would class cream puffs as medium difficulty, but I've taken these Cherry Cream Puffs up a notch with the extra swirl of cream, dollop of beautiful cherry jam and topped with a sweet glaze.
Choux pastry has the reputation of being difficult to work with, I know, I’ve had my fair few fails in the kitchen. But with all my tests, over time, I’ve developed a foolproof recipe using the 2-1-1-2 method (2 parts water, 1 part butter, 1 part flour, 2 part eggs).
Today I’ll guide you through the process of making this pastry with visual images and step-by-step instructions and I’ll share with you the recipe for classic french sweetened cream, Crème Chantilly, a popular addition to many of my desserts such as my Strawberry Eton Mess.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Can be made within an hour and a half. The choux pastry itself can be made, piped and popped into the oven in under 20 minutes. Whilst baking you can whip up the cream and make your glaze. Once the choux buns are cool it's time to pipe in your filling and top with the glaze. Et voila!
- Light dessert. Cream puffs or choux buns are often filled with crème pâtissiére (a thickened French custard), but filling it with freshly whipped cream and a dollop of fruity conserve creates a fresher style of dessert.
- Perfect for any occasion. These Cherry Cream Puffs look absolutely delightful and can be made for afternoon tea, birthday parties, Mother's Day and during Eastertime. Let's be honest, at any time really!
For the choux pastry
- Water - with no baking powder to help the pastry rise, the choux relies on the high moisture content which creates steam in the oven and puffs up the pastry which in turn sets in place with the high heat of the oven.
- Butter - provides richness and flavour to the dough, but also moisture. If using salted butter then omit the salt later on.
- Flour - adds structure. Weigh your flour with digital scales to obtain the most accurate weight.
- Eggs - adding just the right amount of eggs helps create a flexible and structured dough when baked. Too much and the dough will be too runny and result in flat choux balls, not enough and the dough will be too dry and not crack.
- Sugar and salt - Sugar adds sweetness whilst the salt balances this sweetness out.
For the filling and decoration
For the sweetened whipped cream filling:
- Double cream (heavy cream) - I find double cream preferable to use rather than whipping cream. It has a higher fat content and thickens and holds its shape better than whipping cream. Just be careful to not over whip it though!
- Powdered icing sugar - make sure to sift it into the cream so that you don't get any lumps
- Vanilla bean paste - I love using the paste to see those gorgeous little vanilla bean specks, but vanilla extract will work just as well.
For the decoration:
- Bonne Maman Black Cherry Conserve -The hero of our Cherry Cream Puff. Containing the perfect amount of sweet intense cherry flavour offset perfectly with the whipped cream.
- Cherry glaze - easily made with powdered icing sugar, milk and cherry jam.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full list of ingredients & instructions!*
Make the choux pastry
The dough for cream puffs can be quite tricky to master as we rely on visual cues and the feel of the dough to know it has reached the right consistency. I’ve included plenty of images to guide you through this process so that you can master these beauties too. This really is the best recipe for cream puffs!
1. Preheat oven & bring butter and water to a boil. Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F) In a saucepan, add the water, butter, sugar, salt and bring to the boil over medium-low heat. Stir until butter and sugar have melted and the mixture is bubbling. (Image 1 & 2)
2. Add flour. Remove pan from the heat, then add the flour into the saucepan and using a wooden spoon, mix together vigorously. Return to the heat and beat the mixture for 2 minutes until a ball forms and a film shows on the bottom of the pan. (Image 3 & 4)
TIP: Beating for long enough will allow for the flour to be cooked out but also for some of the moisture from the butter and water to evaporate
3. Beat to release the steam. Add the mixture from the saucepan into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 1-minute on low or until you don’t see any more steam coming out of the bowl. We need to cool the mixture down before adding the eggs otherwise they’ll scramble. (Image 5 & 6)
4. Beat in eggs. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually pour in the eggs and mix. (Image 7). It’ll look curdled (image 8) but keep going and it will come together.
TIP: Don't add all the eggs at once. Add them in gradually. I suggest adding up to ¾ of 2 whisked eggs and then beating for up to two minutes to see how the mixture comes together. You can always add in a bit more egg but if you add in too much, there's no going back.
The consistency. This is one of those doughs where you have to rely on visual cues to know when it's ready. There are a couple of telltale signs.
- Firstly when mixed, the dough has to be smooth, shiny and thick enough to be able to hold its shape when piped. (Image 9)
- Secondly, when the beaters are lifted out of the dough, a V shape forms. (Image 10)
TIP: If the batter isn't of the right consistency then add a little more of the whisked egg. In the ingredients list, I have listed a 3rd egg. You'll probably only need a little of it, but how long you cook out the butter and water in the saucepan, the gluten in the flour, the size of your eggs, all contribute to how much egg you'll need. Set aside any remaining for egg wash later.
5. Pipe choux onto baking trays. Scoop dough into a piping bag fitted with 1.3cm (½ inch) plain nozzle, pipe rounds on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Ensure you hold the piping bag vertically upright - otherwise, you’ll have wonky, odd-shaped buns! (Image 11)
Brush the parchment paper with water around the buns. This produces more steam in the oven providing extra lift for the buns to puff up. (Image 12)
6. Prep choux on tray. With a wet finger, smooth down the points of the buns. This will prevent them from burning in the oven (Image 13)
With the remaining whisked egg, add the milk and brush egg wash onto the buns.(Image 14)
7. Bake: Bake in the oven for ten minutes before turning the oven down to 180C (350F) and continue to bake for 25-30 minutes or until buns are golden brown and crisp. Do NOT open the oven before this point, as releasing the steam from the oven will cause the buns to deflate.
With a skewer, make holes in the bottom of each bun (Image 15) then return the tray to the oven for 5 minutes. (Image 16) Place buns on a wire wrack and allow to cool.
TIP: By making the holes in the buns you are allowing the steam and heat to release from within the bun cavity. The extra five minutes in the oven allows the shell to crispen up further and dries out the inside.
Make the filling
Whip cream. Add ingredients to a bowl and whip until firm peaks form (Image 17 and 18) I tend to whip on low speed and stop just before the cream is ready. I then remove the whisk off the stand mixer and finish whisking by hand.
Make the cherry glaze and decorate
Mix glaze. Add powdered icing sugar, milk and Bonne Maman Black Cherry Conserve into a bowl and whisk until smooth. (Image 19)
To assemble. Using a serrated knife, cut the buns in half. Pipe sweetened whipped cream into the bottom of each bun. (Image 20) Spoon Black Cherry Conserve onto the cream, and place the top of the bun onto the jam, pressing down lightly. Spoon glaze over the top and serve with fresh cherries. (Image 21) Now enjoy your freshly made Cherry Cream Puffs!
There are many different options when it comes to cream puffs. Here are my favourite cream puff filling ideas:
- Jam/Conserve. In my experience, Bonne Maman has the best range on the market. Their products are packed FULL of quality ingredients. You’ll be sure to find one that you LOVE.
- Lemon curd. Swirl lemon curd into the cream for a fantastic lemony kick.
- Crème pâtissiére. A thickened custard filling that can be flavoured with vanilla, chocolate or coffee.
- Ice-cream. Scoop your favourite ice-cream into the profiterole and dip in ganache or salted caramel sauce for added indulgence.
- Weigh your ingredients. Use digital scales for an accurate measurement. This is imperative for this type of recipe
- Add eggs in gradually. Everyone will use a slightly different amount of eggs due to the factors I’ve listed in the post. Adding the eggs in bit by bit will keep you in control of the dough's consistency. Just remember: Too little egg = you can add more. Too much egg = dough is ruined.
- Hold the piping bag upright. When piping the buns, hold the bag upright to make the buns as round as possible.
- Don't open the oven. The moisture in the dough and the water droplets on the parchment paper aid in lifting the dough up and the heat of the oven then sets it in place creating the puffed up balls. If you let the steam out of the oven too early you’ll have flat buns.
Frequently asked questions
Either the moisture wasn’t absorbed sufficiently when the flour was added in the saucepan and cooked for long enough. Or too much egg was added into the dough.
Typically a cream puff is filled with vanilla pastry cream or whipped cream as in our recipe today. Profiteroles on the other hand are filled with ice-cream and dipped in chocolate ganache.
The oven may not have been hot enough when the choux balls went in. Or the oven door was opened before the balls had a chance to rise and then set in that position.
How to store and freeze
To Store: Once filled, Cherry Cream Puffs are best eaten within a few hours. Store unfilled cream puff shells in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Re-crisp the shells in a hot oven for 5 minutes.
To Freeze: Cream puff shells can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and re-crips in a hot oven for 5 minutes.
Tools you’ll need
- Wooden spoon or rubber spatula: to beat the flour, butter water mixture in the saucepan.
- Saucepan: To create the initial mixture and hydrate the flour whilst cooking it out, much like when making a roux.
- Stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment: I find it easier to use my stand mixer. But feel free to use an electric handheld mixer or whisk by hand.
- Piping bag fitted with a round nozzle: For creating those perfect choux pastry mounds on the baking tray.
More classic French recipes
If you tried this Homemade Cherry Cream Puff Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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Cherry Cream Puffs
- Digital scales
- Heavy based saucepan
- 120 ml water
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 4 g granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- 65 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- 110 g large eggs, 2 to 3
- 1 tsp whole milk
Sweetened whipped cream (crème chantilly)
- 600 ml double cream (heavy cream), cold
- 25 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- 100 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 115 g Bonne Maman Dark Cherry Conserve
- Fresh cherries, optional
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). In a medium saucepan, add the water, butter, sugar and salt, and bring to a boil over medium-low heat, melting the butter and dissolving the sugar.
- Add flour. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour immediately. With a wooden spoon, beat vigorously until completely combined, and then return to the heat for 2 minutes and continue to beat until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball. You’ll see a film form on the base of your saucepan, and you’ll know it’s ready.
- Beat to release steam. Remove the mixture from the heat and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 1 minute on low speed to release some steam. Stop when you don't see anymore steam coming out of the bowl and the mixture has cooled slightly. In a small bowl, whisk 2 eggs together.
- Beat in eggs. Increase the speed to medium and add ¾ of the whisked eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through. It may look curdled to start with but will come together as you beat the mixture. Once the eggs have been fully incorporated, beat the mixture for a further 2 minutes.Note. The perfect consistency. The choux pastry should be smooth and shiny and should hold its shape when piped. Another sign that the batter is ready is when the beater or a rubber spatula is pulled up and a thick V-shaped ribbon forms, of smooth dropping consistency. If your pastry has not achieved this consistency, add the remaining egg and test the consistency again. If you need more egg, then whisk the 3rd egg in a small bowl, and add a tiny bit at a time. Stop adding the egg as soon as you get the right consistency. I doubt that you'll need all this egg. Set aside any remaining egg.
- Pipe choux onto the baking tray. Spoon the choux pastry dough into a piping bag fitted with a 1.3cm (½ inch) plain round nozzle. (You can also use a zip lock bag with the corner cut off for piping.) Line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Whilst holding the piping bag upright and keeping the tip of the piping tip touching the choux pastry, pipe 12 5cm (2-inch) wide mounds onto the prepared tray. Keep them 2.5cm (1-inch) apart. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush the parchment paper around the mounds. The water creates steam in the oven, which helps puff up the choux.
- Prep choux on the tray. Using the tip of your finger dipped in water, smooth the points of each mound. This stops the peaks from burning in the oven. Add milk into the remaining egg and whisk together. Brush this egg wash gently over the top of the choux pastry mounds.
- Bake. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 10 minutes before lowering the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F) and continue to bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Skewer a hole in the bottom of each choux bun to allow the steam to escape. Return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, and then remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Sweetened whipped cream (crème chantilly)
- Whip cream. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the cream, powdered icing sugar and vanilla bean paste and whisk until firm peaks form. Scoop into a piping bag fitted with an open star tip. Alternatively use an electric handheld mix or whisk by hand)
To assemble and decorate
- Mix glaze. Add the powdered icing sugar and Bonne Maman Black Cherry Conserve into a bowl and whisk together into a runny consistency. Use a fork to mash any larger cherry chunks if you prefer.
- Assemble. With a serrated knife, slice the choux buns in half. Pipe a swirl of sweetened whipped cream onto the base, spoon a dollop of Bonne Maman Black Cherry Conserve onto the cream. Place the top of the choux bun on top. Drizzle cherry glaze over the top. Refrigerate for 20 minutes for the cream and glaze to set. (optional) Top with a cherry if desired!
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.