Have you ever wanted to know how to make choux pastry? Well now you can and then turn them into these gorgeous strawberry cream puffs. Heart-shaped or classic profiterole shape, everyone will love their bright strawberry flavour.
Why you’ll love it
Classic choux pastry (or pate a choux) made from scratch is often thought of as tricky to make but it’s actually very easy and also very quick.
These strawberry cream puffs are little strawberry flavoured, heart-shaped profiteroles – the perfect treat for your loved ones at Valentine’s or any time.
Once you have your little choux puffs ready to fill, they’re filled with a super-simple ultra-creamy whipped strawberry mascarpone filling and topped with a two ingredient icing (strawberries and sugar).
Fresh strawberries at their peak are perfect but you can even use frozen strawberries out of strawberry season or, for that matter, any berry you like.
What are cream puffs?
Known in French as profiteroles, cream puffs are little round hollow balls of baked French choux pastry, most often sweet and filled with a cream or custard style filling. They can be topped with icing sugar, icing, chocolate, hardened caramel or left plain.
Made using a classic choux pastry (or pate a choux), the pastry puffs up as it bakes, creating a hollow centre and crisp casing.
Choux pastry, and the exact recipe I use here can be used for so many baked pastries too: profiteroles (aka cream puffs), eclairs, Paris-Brest, croquembouche, gâteau St Honoré, French cruller, chouxnuts and even churros.
Ingredients for cream puffs
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
For the choux pastry itself, you’ll need;
- Butter: Use unsalted butter and a good quality one.
- Sugar: You only need a little white granulated sugar as the pastry itself is not super sweet.
- Salt: Just a little salt to intensify and balance the flavours.
- Water: You can make choux pastry using water, milk or a combination of the two. I use water to get a crisper pastry but if you don’t mind them being a little softer, you can use part milk. They do soften over time anyway.
- Flour: You just need some plain flour / all-purpose flour to turn it into a dough.
- Eggs: Use large eggs. I use just less than 4 eggs and it’s important to use only as much as it takes to get the dough to the right consistency.
To turn them into strawberry cream puffs, you’ll need the following ingredients;
- Strawberries: Fresh and at the peak of the season is best. If you’re making these out of season, I find frozen strawberries are sweeter than fresh. You can use other berries too, like raspberries and blackberries.
- Freeze dried strawberries: The freeze-dried strawberry powder is optional but it adds a good strong kick of strawberry flavour.
- Icing sugar: Icing sugar (powdered sugar) is the sweetener of choice for both the cream filling and the icing.
- Cream: Heavy, thickened or whipping cream, depending on where you live. You’re after a 35% fat so that it will whip – not a light cream.
- Mascarpone: Mascarpone, sometimes called mascarpone cheese, is a smooth, spreadable, subtly flavoured cream cheese. It tastes more like cream than any kind of cheese, but richer.
- Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract not only adds a little vanilla flavour which is lovely with strawberries, it also tends to intensify sweet flavours.
How to make cream puffs
Of all French desserts, I think profiteroles are my favourite to make and much easier than you may think. These strawberry cream puffs have three components to prepare but all of them are very simple, including the choux pastry.
Detailed instructions in the recipe card below.
For the choux pastry;
- In a saucepan combine water, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Let it come to a boil, just, then add the flour (photo 1) and stir constantly until it comes together into a rough dough (photo 2). Cook it, continuing to move and beat it around the pan for 2 minutes.
- Add eggs: Remove the dough from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes. Beat eggs, then add roughly 1 egg at a time (photo 3), stopping to beat each one in completely before adding the next. Beat one final egg and add it just a little a time, beating until each addition is fully incorporated and only until you have a soft, shiny dough that’s pipeable (photo 4).
- Pipe the dough: Transfer the choux pastry dough to a piping bag with roughly a 1cm opening in the tip. Pipe small hearts (photo 5) (roughly 2 inches wide), by piping one diagonal line of dough then another that meets it at the point of the heart shape. Once your baking sheet is full (photo 6), bake the pastry hearts.
- Finish crisping: Once they’ve baked for the full time, carefully cut a little hole in the base of each profiterole. Place it back on the baking tray in the turned off oven, letting them sit there for 30 minutes before taking them out. This finishes crisping up the pastries.
For the filling and icing;
- The strawberry cream filling: Beat together cream, mascarpone and icing sugar until you have soft peaks. Add the vanilla, strawberry puree and freeze-dried strawberry powder (photo 7) then just beat enough to combine it (photo 8). Don’t overwhip it.
- The strawberry icing: Now mix together strawberry puree and icing sugar to a smooth icing.
- Assemble them: Transfer the cream filling to a piping bag with a small opening (like 5mm or less) and pipe the cream into the cooled profiteroles via the little hole you cut in the base (photo 9). Make sure to point it into each direction of the heart to fill it all and only take it out when you feel it pressing back. Now dip the tops in the icing (photo 10) and set them on a rack to set for at least ½ to 1 hour.
How to pipe hearts
Piping hearts is actually pretty simple so here’s exactly how I do it step by step.
- Make sure you use a tip with roughly a 1cm opening.
- Hold the tip about 1cm from the baking tray and pipe a circle of dough which will become the cheek of the heart.
- Slowly pull the bag towards you as you pipe on a diagonal.
- Lift the bag away from the baking paper.
- Do the same again but this time come at the opposite diagonal angle so you end over the top of the last at the point. You should have two cheeks and a rough point.
- Wet your finger, then gently dab and nudge the points to a sharp point and to neaten the pastry. Try not to make them too wet though.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t look very good. It takes a little practice but once you’ve done 5-6 you’ll get a feel for piping the little hearts. If there are some you don’t like, simply scrape them away with a small offset spatula, return the dough to the piping bag and pipe again.
Storing cream puffs
Store the baked cream puff shells in an airtight container for up to 3 days. They will soften but you can re-crisp them in a moderate oven for 10 minutes.
Filled and iced cream puffs are best served on the day you make them.
The strawberry puree and filling can be made 1-2 days ahead and stored in airtight containers in the fridge. The icing should be made as you’re about to use it but don’t worry, it takes just a minute to mix together.
If you try this strawberry cream puffs recipe, please take a moment to leave a rating and comment below. I love hearing from you, and it helps other readers too!
More recipes you’ll love
- Chantilly cream (French whipped cream)
- Homemade strawberry sauce
- Homemade strawberry topping
- Strawberry lemon blondies
- Strawberry almond tart
- Strawberry chocolate petit fours
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FOR THE CHOUX PASTRY
- 95 g flour
- ¾ cup water
- 85 g butter
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3-4 large eggs, room temperature
FILLING AND GLAZE
- 1 cup chopped strawberries 170g / 6oz
- ¾ cup mascarpone, cold (170g / 6oz)
- ¾ cup whipping cream, cold (180ml)
- 2 ¼ cups icing (powdered) sugar
- 2 tablespoons freeze-dried strawberry powder (roughly 20g) (optional – notes)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Preheat oven to 180C / 350F. Line 2 large baking sheets with baking paper.
- Combine water, butter, sugar and salt in saucepan and heat over medium until it starts to boil.
- Add the flour and beat until combined. Cook, beating and moving constantly, for a further 2 minutes or until you see a shiny film on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.
- Beat 3 eggs lightly. Add about ⅓ of the eggs to the dough and beat with a wooden spoon until fully combined (or you can use a stand mixer with paddle attachment). Repeat with the remaining eggs half at a time until each is fully incorporated.
- If it’s not smooth and glossy, lightly beat a 4th egg. Add it a little at a time until your dough is smooth and a little glossy. You may not need the whole last egg so don’t add more than you need.
- Prepare a piping bag with a 1cm open tip then fill it with the dough.
- Pipe small hearts (roughly 2 inches wide), by piping one diagonal line of dough then another that meets it at the point of the heart shape (see post for step by step to piping hearts.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until light golden (don’t open the oven before this point). Turn the trays and cook another 10 -15 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove the trays from the oven and use a knife to carefully cut a small hole in the base of each puff.
- Turn the oven off and place the puffs back in with the door wedged open to rest for half an hour.
- Take them out and let them cool to room temperature before filling and topping.
FOR THE FILLING AND TOPPING
- Puree the strawberries in a blender, then push them through a strainer to remove seeds and any larger pieces of pulp. You should have about ½ cup of puree.
- Beat in ¼ cup of strawberry puree, vanilla and freeze-dried strawberry powder if using, until just mixed through – careful not to overbeat. Chill until required.
- Mix the remaining ¼ cup of strawberry puree with the remaining icing sugar until you have a smooth icing.
- Transfer the mascarpone mixture to a piping bag with a small hole piping tip. Pipe the cream into the base of each cream puff.
- Dip the tops in the strawberry icing, then turn them right side up on a wire rack to set. They’ll take about an hour to dry.
- Freeze-dried strawberry powder will give a much stronger strawberry flavour. You can leave it out and the strawberry flavour will be more subtle.
- Strawberry puree and the cream filling can both be prepared the day before. Icing should be made as you’re ready to use it.
- Cream puffs are best served fresh (on the day they’re made), so don’t fill and top until the day you’re serving.
- The unfilled cream puffs will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days but they will soften over time. They’ll still be fine to eat or you can re-crisp them in a moderate oven for 10 minutes.
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