Of all the ways to bake choux pastry, cream puffs made without a piping bag makes this classic dessert even more rustic, but also super quick and another dish that’s proof not all French baking needs to be fussy or requires lots of tools to be created. These can easily be made ahead and finished off just prior to serving for dessert or an event.
70 grams / 1/2 cup bread flour
1 tablespoon superfine/caster sugar
130 milliliters cold water
50 grams / 1.75 ounces butter, cubed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
80 milliliters / 1/3 cup double cream
50 grams / 1.75 ounces dark chocolate
1 teaspoon honey
120 milliliters / 1/2 cup whipped cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s/icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC/390F and lightly grease a baking tray, pouring water over the top and taping to remove excess (you want water beads on the tray to create a steamy atmosphere during baking).
- Sift the flour into a small bowl and add the sugar. Set aside.
- Place the water and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter has melted and the mixture has begun simmering.
- Remove from the heat and pour the sifted flour and sugar into the mixture, stirring swiftly with a wooden spoon to combine until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the saucepan.
- Add in 1/4 of the beaten eggs and beat the dough until smooth, continue adding the eggs in the same manner until all have been combined.
- Take half a tablespoonful amount of the dough and shape into a ball with an opposing tablespoon and place onto the prepared baking tray, continue with the remaining dough and allowing 1 inch between the dough.
- Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes.
- Increase the heat to 220ºC/430F, turn the tray around and bake for a further 12-17 minutes or until the pastries are lightly golden.
- Remove from the heat and place on a cooling rack, allowing to cool fully.
- Combine the whipped cream and sugar together and fold together until smooth.
- Slice a choux pastry open slightly near the base and carefully spoon a tablespoon of whipped cream into the center until all have cream therein.
- To make the chocolate sauce, place the double cream in a small bowl and heat over a double boiler or microwave until it’s smooth and hot, stir in the chocolate and honey until it is smooth.
- Drizzle the chocolate sauce over the tops of the cream puffs.
Water on your baking tray: As per usual choux pastry baking, do not leave out the essential step of ensuring you have water droplets across your entire baking tray. This helps give the pastries their perfect firm exterior.
Even sized spoons: You want even sized tablespoons to smooth out the edges of the pastry as you lift it out of the bowl and ensure you can create consistent sized pastries.
Smooth out the tops: When you spoon the pastry onto your baking tray, smooth out the tops as this replicates the effect you would make with a piping bag.
Avoiding collapsed cream puffs: Choux pastry needs to be well and truly golden like medium toast as this helps the finished pastries not to collapse once they have been removed from the oven. The larger your cream puffs the longer they’ll need to become golden.
Baking time for different sizes: Small cream puffs would need 22-25 minutes baking versus larger would need 27-30 minutes as per the notes below to bake evenly by turning the tray around and increasing oven temperature.
Flavoring your cream: The cream puffs filled here are with plain old regular whipped cream, however, you can flavor your cream with anything from cocoa powder to freeze dried or crushed fruit. Begin flavoring your cream with 1 teaspoon of powder or 1 tablespoon of crushed fruit and add a little more at a time until you have a desired flavor.
Chocolate sauce alternative: The chocolate sauce in the recipe below is a ganache which might not work with the ingredients you have, so you could easily opt make an easy cocoa icing for the tops or dip the tops of your cream puffs into melted chocolate instead of pouring chocolate over.
Best served: The filled pastries are best served the same day they are made. However, you can make these ahead and keep covered for 1 day prior to filling and covering in the chocolate syrup.
Adapted from Delia online