Whipping up a batch of pâte à choux is both easy and super satisfying. Milk, flour, butter and eggs transform when cooked and baked into delicate puffs of pastry. If you’ve never ventured into the world of éclairs, profiteroles, cream puffs or even a Croquembouche, I think a Tuesday is the perfect day to get started.
I filled these berry éclairs with pastry cream, berries and whipped cream, then topped them with raspberry white chocolate ganache (all the fillings are recipes from Zoë Bakes Cakes). Once you have the choux baked, it’s up to you to get creative with the fillings!
If you enjoy this recipe, be sure to try my chocolate èclairs as well!
Pâte à Choux (Cream Puff Dough)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter cut into small pieces
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour see notes for gluten-free version
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp corn starch
- 1 egg
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 cups (480ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1-2 tbsp confectioners' sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 lb fresh strawberries, cut into slices you can use any berries you like
White Chocolate-Berry Ganache from Zoë Bakes Cakes
- 1/4 cup 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 8 oz 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 tsp 1/4 tsp lemon zest
- 2 raspberries, crushed at room temperature (cold will seize the chocolate)
Pâte à Choux (Cream Puff Dough)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or Non-Stick Silicone.
- Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a rapid simmer.
- Dump the flour in all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon over low heat. The dough will come together as a smooth ball and the bottom of your pot will have a skim of dough stuck to it.
- Remove dough from the pot and place in bowl of stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment. I love these beater blade paddles with the rubber sides, so you don't have to scrape down the bowl. If you don't have one, then scrape down the bowl after each egg.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each, until it comes together in a smooth paste. It will be thick enough to hold its shape, but thin enough to pipe easily.
- Fit a Decorating Bag with a large round tip and pipe the dough into 2 1/2-inch logs. If there are points sticking up on the ends just wet your finger and smooth them out. Place the sheets into the oven and bake for about 10 minutes (20+ if baking profiteroles that are about the size of a quarter), until they are puffy, but have little color. If baking two trays at once, quickly rotate the trays from top to bottom and back to front. They may deflate a touch, but don't worry, they will puff again as they continue to bake. Bake for an additional 7 to 10 minutes or just until they start to turn golden-brown. Open one of them and make sure it is not too wet inside. If so, continue to bake.
- Once they are no longer wet, prop the door open with a wooden spoon and continue to bake for about 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before filling. They can be made ahead and frozen for up to a couple of weeks.
Vanilla Pastry Cream
- Bring the milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar, butter, salt and vanilla bean to a gentle boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat.
- Whisk together the cornstarch and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Add the egg and yolks to the cornstarch and mix into a smooth paste.
- Slowly, and in small amounts, whisk a little of the hot milk into a the egg mixture. This is called tempering the eggs, which you need to do to get them to the same temperature of the hot milk in the pan, so they won’t curdle.
- Once the egg mixture is warm to the touch, pour it back into the milk in the pan.
- Return the custard to the stove and bring to a boil, whisking continuously for 2 to 3 minutes. The pastry cream will thicken almost immediately but it is important to cook out the starch so that it isn’t grainy and so your pastry cream won’t separate. (separating pastry cream is when the liquid releases from the cream, easily prevented by cooking for 2-3 minutes!) When the pastry cream is done it will be smooth and glossy.
- Strain the pastry cream into a shallow container. Because the pastry cream is so think you will need to press it through the strainer with a rubber spatula.
- Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Set the container in the freezer for 15 minutes (this cools down the eggs quickly) and then refrigerate for up to a few days.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla and beat on medium speed (you read that right) until just thick—it will start to leave marks from the whisk in the cream.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using the whisk attachment, continue whipping by hand for several seconds until the cream reaches the desired consistency; this way, you can ensure the mixer won't take it too far. Whipped cream is best used right away.
White Chocolate-Berry Ganache
- In a small saucepan over low heat, bring cream to a simmer. Turn off the heat, add the chocolate, swirl the pan to cover with cream, and let sit for 2 minutes. Whisk in zest and crushed raspberries until the ganache is smooth. Let the ganache cool slightly until it is thick enough to stay put on the top of the eclairs.
- Slice èclairs in half, pipe in a layer of pastry cream, then use a star tip to pipe a thin layer of whipped cream, add fruit and pipe another layer of whipped cream.
- Dip the tops of the eclair shells in the white chocolate-berry ganache and top the eclairs. Store in the refrigerator. Can be assembled 30 minutes before serving.