Explore the fun baking with this easy Custard Puffs recipe. Made with simple pantry baking ingredients, whip up these light, airy desserts filled with creamy custard. Great to serve at a festive holiday gathering for dessert or brunch!
Custard puffs are a simple pastry that combines a crisp, primarily hollow dough shell with a creamy custard filling. They are made with essential ingredients like flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. They have a crunchy outside and a soft, tender center filled with a rich vanilla-infused custard but not overly sweet. While they are usually purchased instead of made at home from scratch, custard puffs are easy to make, with no professional baking skills needed.
Mix the dough together with melted butter, water, sugar, then flour and eggs. Pipe the dough onto a baking sheet and let them turn golden in the oven. While they cool, whip up a thick custard with milk, sugar, butter, and egg yolks, plus a dash of vanilla. Slice open your puffs, pipe in the custard, and you’ll have a bakery-style treat ready to serve to guests!
Custard puffs are a great choice for almost any gathering! Serve them at brunch as a sweet counterpart to savory dishes, or let them be the sweet ending to a dinner party, pairing well with coffee or sweet wines. They're also a fun alternative to birthday cakes or tea party options.
During the holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter), they add a special touch to the dessert table and are equally delicious on their own or with a scoop of ice cream or a dusting of powdered sugar. No matter how you serve them, vanilla custard puffs are easy to make and easy to enjoy!
Why Make Custard Puffs For Dessert?
- These treats are light and not too sweet, offering a delightful finish to a heavy holiday meal without overwhelming the palate.
- Their individual serving size makes for easy, mess-free entertaining without the need for plates or forks.
- Custard puffs come together with basic baking ingredients that are likely already in your pantry.
- These puffs are customizable, allowing you to add a personal twist with different fillings or toppings.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Water - Combines with butter and flour to create the base, which puffs up in the oven due to steam.
- Eggs - The binding agent that adds richness and ensures the pastry puffs rise correctly, giving them their light, airy texture.
- All Purpose Flour - Provides structure to the puffs, absorbing moisture to form the dough that expands into a fluffy casing when baked.
- Salted Butter - Adds flavor and tender texture to both the pastry and the custard, while its fat content helps achieve the perfect consistency.
- Granulated Sugar - Lightly sweetens the pastry dough and is the primary sweetener for the custard, balancing the richness of the eggs and butter.
For The Custard Filling:
- Granulated Sugar - In the custard, sugar sweetens the mixture and contributes to the smooth, comforting texture of the filling.
- All Purpose Flour - Flour acts as a thickening agent in the custard, ensuring it has a firm yet creamy consistency that holds well within the puffs.
- Whole Milk - Makes up the liquid base of the custard, providing a creamy texture and subtle flavor that complements the vanilla and butter.
- Salted Butter - Enriches the custard filling, giving it a good mouthfeel and a slight salty contrast to the sweetness.
- Vanilla Extract - Infuses the custard with a warm, aromatic flavor.
- Egg Yolks -Thickens the custard and gives it a richness while also contributing a vibrant color to the filling.
How To Make Homemade Custard Puffs
Prepare for baking: Preheat oven to 375℉. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Prepare the pastry dough: In a large saucepan over medium heat, add sliced butter, water, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring occasionally. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir in the flour. The mixture will start to pull away from the edges and form a ball. This will take 1-2 minutes.
Add the eggs: Remove the dough from the saucepan. Place it in a heat-safe glass bowl to cool for 3-4 minutes. Mix in one egg at a time using a wooden spoon. Make sure the egg is mixed well before adding the next egg. Transfer the dough into a piping bag with a ½-inch round piping tip.
Pipe out the pastry dough: Transfer the dough into a piping bag with a ½-inch round piping tip.
Pipe the dough on the prepared baking sheet in 2-inch circles starting in the center of the circle, moving outward, and going up and back into the center of the circle. They should end up being 2 inches wide and about 2 inches tall. Continue doing this until all the dough is used. If there are any pointed peaks, dip your finger in water and gently brush them down.
Bake and cool: Add to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cream puffs start to turn slightly golden brown on top. Remove the puffs from the oven and let them cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes, then gently transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Separate egg yolks: Crack open the eggs, add four egg yolks to a medium-sized glass bowl, and discard the egg whites. Set aside.
Thicken the milk and sugar: Over medium-high heat, add sugar and flour to a medium-sized saucepan and slowly start stirring the milk in about ¾ cup at a time. Let the mixture thicken up before adding the remaining milk slowly until all the milk has been added and the mixture is thick and bubbling. Lower the heat and stir for 2 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients: Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly pour the mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks. Stir until the eggs are mixed in completely. Return the mixture to the heat and add the butter and vanilla extract. Bring to a boil for two minutes, stirring continuously as it thickens.
Chill the custard: Pour the custard into a shallow baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to cool completely.
Assemble the custard puffs: Gently break all the cream puffs in half. Transfer the cooled custard filling to a piping bag and fill each pastry puff. Place the tops back on. Sift an even layer of powdered sugar on top. Serve cold, and enjoy!
- Make sure your water-butter mixture is boiling before adding the flour to achieve the right consistency for the pastry.
- Cool the dough slightly before adding eggs to prevent them from cooking and curdling when mixed in.
- Add the eggs one at a time to the dough, fully incorporating each before adding the next, to create a smooth, homogeneous dough.
- Use a piping bag with a round tip to pipe uniform puffs, which will help them bake evenly and look professional.
- When baking, resist the urge to open the oven door, as the draft can cause the puffs to deflate.
- For the custard, temper the egg yolks by gradually adding some of the hot milk mixture to them before combining everything back into the pot to avoid curdling.
- Continuously stir the custard as it cooks to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and scorching.
- Chill the custard quickly by spreading it in a shallow dish and covering it with plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming on the top.
- Cut the puffs horizontally rather than vertically for easier filling and a more stable base.
- Swap out the vanilla extract in the custard for almond extract, orange blossom water, or rose water for a floral twist on the classic flavor.
- Introduce chocolate chips or a swirl of melted chocolate into the custard filling for a decadent chocolate custard puff.
- Incorporate a layer of fruit preserves or a dollop of lemon curd on top of the custard filling for a fruity twist.
- Add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg to the custard for a warm, spiced flavor that fits the fall and winter holidays.
- Dress up your custard puffs with a drizzle of salted caramel or a light dusting of powdered sugar mixed with cocoa powder for an elegant finish.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: Place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to three days. The custard filling can cause the puffs to soften over time, so for the best texture, enjoy them within 48 hours. If you need to keep them longer, store the unfilled pastry shells at room temperature in an airtight container and the custard in the refrigerator separately, then fill them just before serving.
Freezing: Place cooled custard puffs on a baking sheet, not touching, and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container, separating layers with parchment paper, and freeze for up to one month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and if desired, re-crisp the pastry shells in a warm oven for a few minutes before serving.
If your custard turns out lumpy, pass it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the lumps. For future batches, make sure to stir constantly and temper the egg yolks to prevent lumps from forming.
The puffs are done when they're puffed up, golden brown, and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. It's crucial not to under bake them, or they might collapse when cooling.
Yes, you can make custard puffs gluten-free by using a gluten-free flour blend designed for baking. Just ensure it's a 1:1 substitute for regular all-purpose flour to maintain the right texture.
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- 1 cup water
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup salted butter sliced
- 3 tsp granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 375℉. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, add sliced butter, water, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, making sure to stir occasionally.
- Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir in the flour. The mixture will start to pull away from the edges and form a ball. This should take 1-2 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the saucepan and put it in a glass heat-proof bowl. Let it cool for 3-4 minutes.
- Mix in one egg at a time using a wooden spoon. Make sure the egg is mixed well before adding the next egg. Once all the eggs have been added, transfer the dough into a piping bag with a ½-inch round piping tip.
- Pipe the dough on the prepared baking sheet. Pipe 2-inch circles starting in the center of the circle, moving outward, and going up and back into the center of the circle. They should end up being 2 inches wide and about 2 inches tall. Continue doing this until all the dough is done. If there are any pointed peaks, dip your finger in water and gently brush them down.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cream puffs start to turn slightly golden brown on top. Remove the puffs from the oven and let them cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes, then gently transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
- Add four egg yolks to a medium-sized glass bowl. Set aside.
- Over medium-high heat, add sugar and flour to a medium-sized saucepan and slowly start stirring the milk in about ¾ cup at a time. Let the mixture thicken up before adding more milk. Continue doing this until all the milk has been added and the mixture is thick and bubbling. Lower the heat and stir for 2 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly pour the mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks. Stir until the eggs are mixed in.
- Return the mixture to the heat and add the butter, and vanilla extract. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes stirring continuously.
- Remove the filling from the heat and pour into a shallow baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to cool completely.
- Gently break all the cream puffs in half. Transfer the custard filling to a piping bag and fill each puff. Place the tops back on each puff. Sift an even layer of powdered sugar on top of each puff.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Wait until the water-butter mix is boiling before you add the flour. That's the key to getting the pastry to the right consistency.
- Try using a piping bag with a round tip to pipe the dough. It helps the puffs bake evenly and look pretty pro!
*All nutrition information provided is automatically calculated and is an estimate and will vary based on ingredients, brands, and changes in cooking methods listed in the recipe. If you need exact numbers on your ingredients, I would recommend calculating them with your prefered nutrition calculator.