Cream Puffs & Eclairs

“I brought some of these eclairs to my friends outside Chem 194 before the start of our college biology class. A couple years later, I was hanging out with a choir buddy at her place, and when I met her roommates they said ‘Hey, I remember you! You brought those eclairs to Bio 1A for your friends!’ Needless to say, this is a memorable recipe. The cream puffs, though, are especially impressive when made in the shape of swans. I prefer the vanilla filling over the pastry cream, and for a particularly decadent treat, use Chocolate Ganache on the eclairs.” – April Ferre

“My husband brought home the cookbook this recipe is in from work. Somebody had been selling it. Who doesn’t enjoy a cream puff or eclair? They are fancy enough just plain, but with a little extra effort, the swans are gorgeous. The choux pastry can be made into an impressive appetizer by filling the puffs with chicken salad, ham and egg salad, or other similar filling.” – Calla Ferre

Cream Puffs And Eclairs

Course: Pastries
Cuisine: French


Choux Paste:

  • 1/2 Cup Butter Or Margarine
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 Eggs

Pastry Cream:

  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 6 Egg Yolks
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla
  • – Or 1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

Vanilla Filling:

  • 1 Envelope Unflavored Gelatin
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Glaze:

  • 2 Ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Cup Confectioner's Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Milk


Choux Paste:

  • In 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, heat butter, water and salt to boiling. Remove from heat.
  • Add Flour all at once. With wooden spoon, vigorously stir until mixture forms a ball and leaves side of pan.
  • Add eggs to flour mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until smooth. Cool mixture slightly.

Pastry Cream:

  • In 2-quart saucepan, combine sugar, flour, and salt. Stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture thickens and boils, about 10 minutes. Boil 1 minute.
  • In small bowl with fork, beat egg yolks slightly. Beat small amount of milk mixture into yolks. While stirring, slowly pour egg mixture back into milk mixture. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until mixture thickens and coats spoon well, about 8 minutes (do not boil).
  • To check thickness, lift metal spoon from mixture and hold up for 15 seconds. Spoon should not show through mixture. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla or almond extract. Cover surface with plastic wrap; chill well, about 2 hours.
  • In small bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. With rubber spatula, gently fold cream into custard. Makes 4 2/3 cups.

Vanilla Filling:

  • In 3-quart saucepan, mix well gelatin with sugar and flour.
  • In small bowl with wire whisk, beat egg yolks with milk until well mixed. Stir into gelatin mixture. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick and coats spoon well, about 10 minutes (do not boil).
  • Remove pan from heat; stir in vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until mixture is cold, but not set, about 45 minutes.
  • In small bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat heavy cream into soft peaks. Fold into custard.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Glaze:

  • In 1-quart saucepan over low heat, melt semi-sweet chocolate and butter, stirring constantly.
  • Stir in confectioner's sugar and milk until smooth. Makes 1 cup.

Cream Puffs:

  • Using large spoon and rubber spatula, drop choux paste onto greased cookie sheets in 12 large mounds, 3 inches apart, swirling the top of each. Bake 50 minutes at 375 degrees.
  • Remove from oven, cut slit in the side of each puff. Return to oven and bake 10 minutes longer. Turn off oven; dry puffs in oven 10 minutes. Cool.
  • Prepare vanilla or almond pastry filling. When puffs are cool, slice top off of each. Fill shell with chilled pastry cream. Replace top. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar. Refrigerate until serving time.

Cream Puff Ring:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On greased, lightly floured cookie sheet, using a 7- inch pie plate as a guide, trace a circle. Drop heaping tablespoons of choux paste just inside circle to form a ring.
  • Bake 40 minutes or until golden and firm. Turn off heat; leave in oven 15 minutes, cool. With sharp knife, carefully cut puff ring in half horizontally. With spoon, remove soft interior; discard, leaving hollow ring shell.
  • Prepare vanilla or almond pastry cream. Fill bottom of shell with pastry cream. Replace top and refrigerate.
  • Prepare semi- sweet chocolate glaze. Spread on top of ring; refrigerate. When ready to serve, fill center of ring with fresh strawberries.


  • Drop choux paste by 1/4 cupfuls onto cookie sheets 2 inches apart, and in rows 6 inches apart, to make 10. Spread each mound into rectangles, rounding edges. Alternatively, pipe choux paste using a pastry bag.
  • Bake 40 minutes at 375 degrees or until lightly browned. Cut slit in the side of each shell and bake 10 minutes more. Turn off oven and dry puffs in oven for 10 minutes. Cool on rack.
  • Prepare vanilla or almond pastry cream and semi-sweet chocolate glaze. Slice about 1/3 off the top of each shell and fill bottoms with pastry cream. Replace tops and spread with glaze. Refrigerate until serving time.


  • Grease cookie sheets. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Using pastry bag with 1/8-inch round tube, pipe 36 2-inch long question marks for swan necks, making a small dollop at the end of each for a head. With 1/2-inch round tube, pipe 36 1.5×1-inch teardrops for swan bodies, about 1-inch apart.
  • Bake 10 minutes until swans' necks are golden; remove to rack. Cool. Continue baking bodies 20-25 minutes longer until golden. Remove to wire racks; cool.
  • Prepare vanilla filling. Cut off top 1/3 of swans' bodies, set aside. Spoon vanilla filling into bottom of bodies. Cut top pieces of swans' bodies in half lengthwise; set into filling for wings. Place necks into filling. Chill until ready to serve.

1998 Recipe – April Ferre – From The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook, 1980

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