Add a unique twist to your cream puffs by adding maple pastry cream filling! It’s a subtle, gorgeous flavor that elevates a classic dessert and gives it a fall flavor.
There’s something magical about a classic. They’re universal and yet intensely personal. Somehow, a good classic can convey a sense of familiarity and yet broaden our horizons all at the same time.
That’s exactly what I hope to do with these cream puffs by adding maple pastry cream. The pâte à choux is a standard–I like working from Julia Child’s recipe. And while choux pastry can be a bit tricky to master, the up side is that they’re always delicious even when there’s room for improvement.
And now for the star of the show, the maple pastry cream filling. The recipe is based on a traditional pastry cream, but uses pure maple syrup as a sweetener instead of sugar. This adds a subtle maple flavor without artificial flavoring, which is always a plus in my book.
Tips for making Cream Puffs
Cream puffs are made from a traditional French pastry called pâte à choux, or choux pastry.
- More than with most recipes, mise en place is very important when making choux pastry. So have everything set out and ready to go before you start mixing.
- Work as much egg as you can into the pastry without making it too liquid. Eggs are what give cream puffs their puff, so don’t settle for a too-thick dough. However, too much egg will make it too wet to rise, so try to get a good balance.
- You can bake the puffs ahead of time, and they can even be frozen. To re-crisp them before filling, place the unfilled puffs on a baking sheet in an oven preheated to 350°. After 4-5 minutes in the oven, they should be puffy and have a crisp outer shell again.
- For the pastry cream, you will need real maple syrup. The higher the grade, the darker, thicker, and richer your cream will be, but any real syrup will do the job.
- When filling the puffs, you will feel the pastry getting heavier as you fill it, and you should be able to see the cream at the opening when you remove the tip.
Tips for the Maple Pastry Cream
- For the pastry cream, you will need real maple syrup. The higher the grade (Grade A Very Dark is the highest), the darker, richer, and more flavorful your maple pastry cream will be.
- The pastry cream will thicken as it cools, so don’t be concerned if it’s not a pipe-able consistency just after cooking.
- And definitely don’t overcook the pastry cream! This will leave you with gloopy, glue-like pastry cream that’s not very pleasant to eat.
- When filling the puffs, it can be hard to know if there’s enough cream inside. You should feel the pastry getting heavier as you pipe in the pastry cream. Also, there should be some filling visible at the hole left by your piping tip when you remove it.
Some other pastry recipes you may enjoy:
These cream puffs are subtly sweetened with maple syrup for a delicate, yet different flavor in a classic.
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup milk –whole is best
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 5 eggs
For the Pastry Cream
- 2 1/4 cups whole milk, divided
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 4 egg yolks
- 6 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- A pinch of salt
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp. butter
For the Puffs: Preheat your oven to 400° and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Set out all of your ingredients before beginning and beat four of the eggs into a bowl until they are smooth.
Place the water, milk, salt, sugar and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to ensure the butter is melted before the water boils.
As soon as the water boils and the butter is melted, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and add the flour all at once, mixing quickly. Return the saucepan to the stove and stir vigorously for 15-20 seconds until the mixture forms a ball around the spoon and is beginning to leave a film on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat.
Allow the dough to cool for 5-10 minutes so that it won’t instantly cook the eggs. Add about 1/4 of the beaten eggs to the pan and beat them in with the wooden spoon. The mixture will seem lumpy and strange at first, but as you continue to beat it will become cohesive and smooth.
Repeat this process three more times with the rest of the beaten egg. At this point, you will want to test the dough. Hold up a scoop on your spoon and turn it sideways. If the choux dough stays in a firm ball or falls off of your spoon in a ball it needs more egg. You want it to fall off in thick but smooth ribbons. To achieve this consistency, beat the 5th egg until smooth, then beat in tiny bits of the egg until the dough is ready.
While still warm, transfer the choux dough into a pastry bag fitted with a piping coupler. In one continuous squeeze, make balls of dough that are about 1.5” on the tray, leaving at least an inch between them. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, then remove them from the oven and pierce the side of each with a skewer or a sharp-tipped knife. Return the puffs to the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the tops are a deep golden brown.
For the Pastry Cream: In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of the milk. Add in the flour, cornstarch, and salt and beat until smooth with no lumps remaining. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, warm the 2 cups of milk and maple syrup over medium heat until it is steaming and small bubbles are forming around the edge. Pour a small amounts (a few tablespoons at a time) into the egg mixture, and whisk it in until smooth. Do this with about half of the milk to bring the eggs up to a similar temperature, then whisk it all back into the pot. Lower the heat to medium low and cook the mixture while whisking briskly and constantly. Do not leave it for even a second, as the maple syrup can scorch easily and the eggs will curdle.
Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture is thick, about the consistency of yogurt. Immediately remove it from the heat, then whisk in the vanilla extract and butter until it is completely melted. Pour the mixture into a clean bowl and cover it with plastic wrap so that it is touching the cream. Set it in the refrigerator until it is completely chilled.
Find the slits in each of the puffs, and insert the piping tip into it. Squeeze the pastry cream into each puff until it is filled. Sprinkle the tops with powdered sugar and serve. Store in the refrigerator.
You can bake the puffs ahead, and they can even be frozen. To re-crisp them, just place them on a baking sheet in an oven preheated to 350° for about 5 minutes
For the pastry cream, you will need real maple syrup. The higher the grade, the darker, thicker, and richer your cream will be, but any real syrup will do the job.
When filling the puffs, you will feel the pastry getting heavier as you fill it, and you should be able to see the cream at the opening when you remove the tip.
- Prep Time: 1 hour, divided
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: pastry
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: French
Keywords: Cream Puffs