Choux Pastry (Pâte à Choux)
A simple, classic French pastry that is used to make decadent desserts including cream puffs eclairs, cream puffs, eclairs, profiteroles, and even churros! Whether you bake it or fry it – it’s delicious and easy!
What is a choux pastry?
Translated as “little cabbages” this light French pastry dough is what’s used to make classic cream puffs, which is where its name originated from since these delicate little mounds apparently look just like a little cabbage.
Cream puffs are just the beginning. You can use this same dough to make profiteroles (puffs with ice cream inside instead of cream), eclairs, choquettes (pearl sugared puffs), churros, etc. The dough comes together in just under 15 minutes and is easy to make!
How to make choux pastry
1. Combine ingredients over stove top until you reach a thick, stiff paste.
2. Add eggs, stirring vigorously until you reach a pipe-able consistency. You know the batter is at the right consistency when a stiff “V” can hang from the end of your mixing spoon.
*When making churros, we are looking for a stiffer dough. We only use up to 3 eggs, instead of 4. The dough will be thick and stiff, but still pipe-able.
3. Use right away or store in the fridge for up to 3 days or freezer for up to 3 months.
How to pipe a cream puff
1. Place a large round piping tip (Wilton 1A works great) in a piping bag. Making sure your bag is completely vertical (straight, not tilted at any angle) pipe a large mound. Keep your tip in the same place as you pipe, similar to piping macarons. This will help keep your cream puffs an even circular mound and not tilted.
2. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes. Do NOT open the oven door during baking! This can make the cream puffs sink. Use your oven light to check doneness, golden brown. Remove from oven and poke with a skewer or toothpick to release steam, preventing the puffs from getting soggy.
3. Once cooled, you can store at room temperature for 1 day, in the fridge for 3 days, or freezer for up to 3 months. Fill with desired filling – whipped cream, whipped ganache, or pastry cream!
What to make with a choux pastry
There are so many things you can make with a choux pastry!
ECLAIRS – fill with my favorite pastry cream and dip in chocolate! (recipe being released soon!)
CREAM PUFFS – fill with whipped cream, whipped chocolate ganache, or pastry cream!
PROFITEROLES – basically a frozen cream puff! Instead of pastry cream, add a small scoop of ice cream in between for a nice frozen treat.
CHURROS – instead of baking, fry this piped dough and toss in cinnamon sugar
CHOQUETTES – a smaller version of a cream puff, with no cream inside. Instead, place pearl sugar on top prior to baking for a light, sweet treat.
Choux Pastry (Pâte à Choux)
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup (120 grams) all purpose flour
- 4 large eggs (only 3 for churro recipe)
- Prepare the eggs by whisking them all together in a small bowl. Set aside for later.
- Over stove top at medium heat, combine water, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium sauce pan.
- Heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is brought to a simmer. Turn down the heat to low and add the flour. As you stir, the mixture will come together into a ball and begin to pull away from the sides of the pot. Continue to mix and mash the ball for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat to begin to cool.
- Slowly add the whisked eggs in 3 batches, stirring vigorously after each time. Pour in the 3rd batch slowly, because you may not use all of the eggs. We are looking for the consistency of a somewhat stiff, but wet batter. A key trick to know you're at the right consistency is that the batter will form a V off of a spatula or spoon. (See picture above in recipe for a visual). Set aside until you're ready to pipe and use.Churros: Churros are stiffer than cream puffs. We want a denser dough when frying. Only use up to 3 eggs, and stop when you've reached a very stiff, but still pipe-able consistency.
Cream puffs, Eclairs, & Profiteroles
- Preheat oven to 400° F, Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone mat and brushing or spraying the sheet with water (creates additional steam in the oven).
- Cream puffs: Prepare a large round piping tip in a piping bag. Add the dough to the piping bag. Pipe small mounds onto your baking sheet. Use a wet finger to press down any tips that form on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Use the oven light to check doneness. Do not open the oven door, as that could make the puffs sink. Eclairs: Follow the instructions above, except you will pipe longs strips at a 45° angle, about 4 inches long, and 3 inches spaced apart. Bake as directed above. I usually bake my eclairs more on the higher side of the time, for a darker golden brown.
- Remove from oven when golden brown and immediately prick the side a couple times with a toothpick or skewer to release some steam from inside. This will help your puff from getting soggy.
- Keep unfilled puffs stored in an airtight container at room temperature for one day, fridge for up to 3 days, or freezer up to 3 months. Eclairs & Cream puffs: To fill, you can cut out a whole in the side and use a piping tip to fill with whipped cream, whipped chocolate ganache, or pastry cream. Or, you can cut off the tops and pipe the whole interior. Store filled puffs in the refrigerator. Eat same day for best freshness. Profiteroles: Cut the tops off and fill with a scoop of ice cream. Freeze until serving. Drizzle with melted chocolate ganache if desired.
- Prepare your cinnamon sugar mixture and a plate or baking sheet lined with a paper towel.
- Heat up a pot filled with vegetable oil a few inches deep. Heat to about 350° F. Try to keep your temperature around there the entire frying process.
- While the oil heats, prepare a piping bag with a star piping tip and fill with your choux dough. Carefully pipe about a 6 inch strip into the hot oil, using clean kitchen scissors to cut off the ends. Fry for about 60 seconds each side until you reach an even deep golden brown color. Depending on how big your pan is, you can fry about 4-7 at a time.
- Using a frying basket or tongs, remove the churros from the oil, and gently pat with a paper towel. Toss in the cinnamon sugar mixture after they've cooled for a few minutes. Best eaten fresh but will last at room temperature for a few days. Enjoy!