These are traditional cream puffs, but Sebastien introduced two important innovations. The first is uniformity: unless you are extremely talented with a pastry bag, your cream puffs will be different sizes. He pipes the pate a choux into silicone molds, so that they’re completely uniform; he freezes the puffs in the molds until they are set and easy to unmold, then turns them out onto sheet pans and bakes them from frozen. Second, the crisp shell is one of the pleasures of eating a cream puff, but when the puffs sit, the shells can soften. To ensure that they stay crisp, Sebastien makes a thin cookie that rests on top of the dough. It bakes up very crisp, also giving the cream puff a visually appealing appearance. You can do this for profiteroles as well.
Because the cream puffs are frozen before they are baked, and can be kept frozen for up to 1 month, you can make the whole batch of dough and freeze the puffs, and then just bake as many as you want at a time.
- Yield: 12 Filled Cream Puffs
- 1 cup + 1½ tablespoons (250 grams) Water
- 4.4 ounces (125 grams) Unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ +1/8 teaspoon (2.5 grams) Kosher salt
- 1 cup (138 grams) All-purpose flour
- 1 cup + ½ tablespoons (250 to 275 grams) Eggs
- Cookies for Cream Puffs
- 1½ cup (340 grams) Pastry Cream
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Put the molds on a sheet pan(s) and spray very lightly with nonstick spray. Set up a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan, place over medium heat, and stir as the butter melts. (Starting at too high a temperature will evaporate some of the water before the butter has melted.) Once the butter has melted, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, then remove the pan from the heat and, with a stiff heatproof or wooden spoon, stir in all of the flour. Continue to stir for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture has a paste-like consistency, then place over medium heat and stir rapidly for 1 to 2 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan is clean; the dough should be glossy and smooth but not diy.
- Immediately transfer the dough to the mixer bowl and mix on low for about 30 seconds to release some of the moisture. Slowly begin adding the eggs, about 50 grams/3 tablespoons at a time, beating until each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next one. Continue adding the eggs, reserving 25 grams/l½ tablespoons, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl when pulled with the paddle but then grabs back on again.
- Increase the speed to medium and mix for 15 seconds to be sure all of the eggs are incorporated. Stop the mixer. When the paddle is lifted, the dough should form a bird’s beak it should hold its shape and turn down over itself but not break off. If the dough is too stiff, add the reserved egg.
- Fill a spray bottle with water. Transfer the dough to a pastiy bag and cool to room temperature. Pipe into the molds, filling each cavity. If the tops are uneven, dip your finger in water and smooth them.
- Cover the molds with plastic wrap and freeze the puffs for about 4 hours, or until firm enough to be removed from the molds easily. The puffs can be frozen for up to 1 month.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (standard); if you will be baking more than one pan of puffs, position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line one or more sheet pans with Silpats, depending on the number of puffs you are baking.
- Unmold the cream puffs and arrange on the sheet pan(s), leaving about 1½ inches between medium and 2 inches between large puffs. Spray them lightly with water.
- Cut out 1½-inch cookies and set one on top of each puff. Place the pan(s) in the oven, immediately lower the oven temperature to 350°F, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. If you are baking two sheets, rotate the pans after 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F and bake for about 10 minutes, until the puffs are light and feel hollow. Break one open if necessary: the center should appear completely cooked.
- Set the pan(s) on a cooling rack and cool completely before filling or freezing. To fill 12 Cream Puffs
- Poke a hole in the bottom of each cream puff with the ¼-inch plain tip. Fill the second pastiy bag with the pastiy cream. Insert the tip of the pastry bag into the hole in each puff and apply gentle pressure to fill the puff with 22 grams/about 1½ tablespoons pastry cream.
- The cream puffs are best as soon as they are filled, but they can be refrigerated for up to 1 hour. Just before serving, dust the tops of the cream puffs with powdered sugar.