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Oct 7, 2005 11:56 AM

Cream Puff Fillings

  • d

Well, after the last few weeks new recipes have been entrees (Emerils Beer and Brat Soup and Rick Bayless' Easy Carnitas, both wonderful!!), I'm ready to get back to baking!

My next test will be making my first Pastry, namely Alton Brown's Pate a Choux. I have the good eats episode all saved and am looking forward to it.

However, in the episode, he fills his cream puffs with Jell-O instant vanilla pudding! ACK!! I can't have that... So I decided to fill them with lemon curd! YUM! But when I floated the idea of lemon curd filled cream puffs with a chocolate dip, BF wasn't too keen on the combination. (I'll still make them, but will sprinkle them with powdered sugar instead of the chocolate dip)

Sadly, I don't have a stand mixer (just a super powerful handmixer) so making whipped cream is out... Plus, I like pudding and custard filling more than whipped cream anyway! :)

So this morning I went looking for a REAL Vanilla Pudding Recipe on Epicurious and Food TV and nothing... I found recipes for chocolate pudding, but I don't imagine that taking out the cocoa and adding in Vanilla extract will work with them.... Or will it?

Anyway, if anyone has some homemade pudding tips or recipes that would be great!


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  1. My favorite cream filling for puffs and doughnuts is Bavarian cream. I can't tell the difference between that and a good egg based pudding-like custard, but perhaps the terminology will pull up more on web searches. It looks like Jell-O vanilla pudding in color and texture, but obviously tastes much better.

    Why do you say you can't make whipped cream with a hand mixer? I used to do it all the time. It just takes a little longer. But I'm witn you on this one--whipped cream is just not as good as a custard.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nooodles

      Agreed on the hand mixer, whipped cream is totally doable. Even without a mixer, there's always a whisk, which I always use when whipping less than a cup since it's quicker than pulling out, cleaning, and putting away all the electronics anyway. I like the pure simplicity of cream puffs with sweet whipped cream with vanilla. Real vanilla bean is best, but extract is okay too. I would again go with powdered sugar with that filling, as chocolate sauce could be overwhelming. Vanilla custard and chocolate sauce is also great.


    2. c

      What you're really looking for, most likely, is pastry cream, which is like a pudding, but a bit thicker. Depending on the recipe, it may use flour or cornstarch to thicken, but it always uses both eggs and a starch. My rule of thumb is that pudding is always thickened with cornstarch and sometimes eggs, custard is thickened just with eggs, sometimes baked, sometimes served thin (creme anglaise). There's not much difference between a pastry cream and a pudding made with both cornstarch and eggs, except that the pudding likely uses less of both. A Bavarian cream traditionally is creme anglaise with whipped cream folded in, sometimes egg whites as well, stabilized with gelatin. But, as anyone who has had a "Bavarian cream" donut knows, people use the term for all sorts of vanilla flavored creams.

      Anyway, pastry cream is the standard cream you get inside an eclair or, yes, a cream puff. In the case of cream puffs, it is often lightened by folding in a bit of whipped cream after it's chilled. You can certainly make whipped cream, and easily, with a handmixer. I usually just use a whisk if I'm not making much. It really doesn't take long at all. I definitely prefer my pastry cream lightened with whipped cream (which is usually called diplomat cream). But you might not and you can certainly use regular pastry cream. I fear if you use most plain vanilla puddings, the filling will be too soft to eat easily and not offer enough resistance to balance the crisp pastry.

      You can find a pastry cream recipe in any good basic cookbook.

      Oh, I haven't seen Alton Brown's show, but I highly recommend a 1/2 and 1/2 mix of water and milk for the pastry. Water makes the puffs crisp; milk makes them brown, using both gives you the best of both worlds. Cream puffs are easy; I often recommend them to novice bakers because they look so snazzy, taste so good and are so little trouble.

      Good luck. Tell us how they come out.


      1. Dommy, of course you can whip cream with a hand held mixer. Also with a whisk and an old fashioned rotary mixer also sometimes called an egg beater.

        Butthat aside what you need is pastry cream for your puffs.

        Mix 1/3 C.sugar with 3 1/2 Tbs. corn starch OR 6 Tbs.flour with 6 lightly beaten egg yolks in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Scald 2 C. of milk and pour slowly into the egg mixture beating so not to scramble your eggs. Cook stirring over low heat until thick and smooth, you want this quite thick but do not allow the cream to boil. Then remove from the heat and stir in 1 tsp. vanilla.

        You can vary the filling flavor by adding a bit of citrus zest and different extracts.

        This should fill 10 cream puffs or eclairs

        4 Replies
        1. re: Candy

          Actually, most pastry creams can and should be brought to a boil briefly. The starch prevents the eggs from curdling, but if you don't bring to a boil, the pastry cream 1) will never thicken as much as it could and 2) can have a "raw starch" taste. Of course, you should never allow a regular custard (no starch) to boil; you'll end up with a curdled mess. The hard part with pastry cream isn't bringing it just to this side of a boil without actually boiling; it's cooking it enough without having the bottom catch.

          1. re: curiousbaker

            That is why i cook it stirring until quite thick. It just takes a bit of patience. It does get there.

            1. re: Candy

              Well, there is another issue, which is amylose, the enzyme in raw eggs. You can look at the article below.

              Careful whisking and a good heavy pot will usually take care of the scorching problem.


              1. re: curiousbaker

                agreed-pastry cream must be brought all the way up for proper thickening. After tempering i switch to a wooden spoon to get in the corner of the pot.

        2. There's also filling your puffs with vanilla ice cream and serving with a chocolate sauce (Profiteroles au Chocolat).