Cream Puffs or Eclairs With Vanilla Pastry Cream

Total Time
1hr 10mins
Prep 30 mins
Cook 40 mins

My husband is not a big fan of cake, so for his birthday each year, I make cream puffs for him. He loves these so much, I have to make sure he only eats one or two at a time so he doesn't make himself sick! There are several cream puff recipes out there, but this vanilla pastry cream is a bit different from the others and it's really wonderful. Prep time does not include 2 hours chilling of pastry cream. From the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Make vanilla pastry cream:.
  2. In 2 quart saucepan, combine sugar, flour and salt; stir in milk.
  3. Over medium heat, cook, stirring until mixture thickens and boils, about 10 minutes.
  4. Boil 1 minute.
  5. In a small bowl with fork, beat 6 egg yolks slightly.
  6. Beat small amount of heated milk mixture into yolks.
  7. Slowly pour egg mixture back into milk mixture, stirring.
  8. Cook over medium low heat, stirring till mixture thickens and coats spoon well, about 8 minutes (do not boil).
  9. To check thickness, lift metal spoon from mixture and hold up 15 seconds - spoon should not show through mixture.
  10. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
  11. At this point I usually put this custard through a strainer to get out any lumpy cooked egg pieces.
  12. Cover surface with plastic wrap, and chill well, about 2 hours.
  13. When custard is cool, in a small bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat heavy/whipping cream till stiff peaks form.
  14. With a rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into custard.
  15. Puffs:.
  16. Spray 1 or 2 large cookie sheets with nonstick spray. Heat oven to 375.
  17. In 2 qt saucepan over medium heat, heat butter, water and salt till butter mixture boils.
  18. Remove from heat.
  19. Add flour all at once. With a wooden spoon, vigorously stir until mixture forms a ball and leaves sides of pan.
  20. Add eggs to the flour mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition, till smooth.
  21. Cool mixture slightly.
  22. Using a large spoon and rubber spatula, drop batter onto cookie sheets int 12 large mounds, 3 inches apart, swirling the top of each.
  23. (for eclairs, instead of mounds, spread the choux paste into 5" by 3/4" rectangles).
  24. Bake 50 minutes (this is what the original recipe says - however, I NEVER bake them that long - more like 35 minutes - go by your own oven - if they're looking puffed and browned and dry, they're probably done).
  25. At this point, remove from oven, cut a small slit in the side of each puff and return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  26. Turn off oven and let dry for 5-10 minutes (I don't usually do this and it doesn't seem to matter too much).
  27. When puffs are cool, slice top off of each - there will probably be some webby looking soft dough inside - carefully pull this out to make it hollow.
  28. Fill each shell with the chilled pastry cream.
  29. Replace top and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  30. For Eclairs:.
  31. Go through the same process, but top with semisweet chocolate glaze: In saucepan, melt 2 squares semisweet chocolate and 2 T butter, stirring constantly (or heat briefly in the microwave to melt) Stir in 1 cup powdered sugar and 3 T milk till smooth.
Most Helpful

What an interesting and delicate recipe! I set out to make some eclairs for my DH and was suprisingly pleased at the results. The choux pastry was easy enough to make. I put the batter into a zip bag and cut the corner off of one side to "pipe" my eclair shapes onto my cookie sheet. Baked off for about 35 minutes and then cut the slit in the side, as directed, and baked 10 minutes longer. The shells came out perfectly brown and crispy.
The vanilla cream was a little more challenging, but only because I was afraid of scrambling the eggs. It turned out great, but I did run it through a strainer (just in case). I agree with some reviewers that the cream is a little thin, after adding the whipped cream. Next time, I believe I will try just 1 cup of heavy cream whipped.
Thank you so much pattikay for posting this recipe and making me feel like a gourmet chef and hero for the day with my hubby :) (Will be making these again in a week :))

Danny's Wife :D September 15, 2011

Thank you, this recipe made me a superstar at a recent progressive dinner where I was in charge of dessert! I doubled the recipe and made half cream puffs and the other half larger and drizzled with chocolate. I got so many compliments and there was not one left. I had extras and found that I can easily freeze both the pastry and the cream. this is due to the fact that your recipe calls for flour instead of cornstarch. Your directions were fantastic as I had never made these before. Thanks again, this is definitely a keeper! I plan to make them again for Christmas.

TLu December 15, 2014

Nice pastry cream. Not too thick. I used vanilla bean instead of extract.

Kathy!! July 29, 2013