Making homemade choux pastry (also known as pâte à choux) may sound intimidating.. until you actually make it! I only started making choux pastry recently, but wish I started sooner because it is so fun (and surprisingly simple!). The pastry itself uses steam to puff up into balls that are light, crispy, and filled with air. Choux pastry can be filled with a sweet pastry cream, ice cream, or whipped cream (called a “profiterole” or “cream puff”), and can be left plain, dipped in chocolate, or topped with a crunchy Craquelin topping. It can also be made savoury by adding cheese (called “gougères”).
Below I have attached a basic choux pastry recipe, a pastry cream recipe, and a craquelin recipe. However, there are plenty other variations and flavours of these recipes online, so feel free to explore all the possibilities!
Choux Pastry (Pâte à Choux) Recipe
I use the pâte à choux recipe from the Duchess at Home cookbook by Giselle Courteau (which I highly recommend!), but I wanted to find a similar recipe online to share with you. The below recipe by The Spruce Eats is similar to the Duchess recipe!
Find the Choux Pastry (Pâte à Choux) recipe here: https://www.thespruceeats.com/choux-pastry-recipe-pate-a-choux-995147
Baking alternative: The Spruce Eats recipe says to bake the choux pastry for ~40 minutes and then let them cool for another 30 minutes in the oven with the door open. However, if you are short on time you can alternatively just bake them for 30 minutes at 375F, then open the door for ~10 seconds to let the steam escape, then close the door and bake for another 5-10 minutes until golden brown and slightly crispy.
Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière) Recipe
This is a basic vanilla pastry cream recipe, but there are many flavours you can try (chocolate, salted caramel, strawberry, anything!). To fill the choux buns with pastry cream, simply poke a whole in the bottom and use a piping bag to fill it with pastry cream! You could also just cut the choux in half and place the pastry cream inside (like a sandwich).
Find the Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière) recipe here: https://theloopywhisk.com/2022/01/13/vanilla-pastry-cream-creme-patissiere/
Choux au Craquelin Recipe
This craquelin recipe is a great way to add extra crunch (and brown sugar sweetness) to your choux pastry! You can even half this recipe and just add craquelin to half your choux buns.
Find the Choux au Craquelin recipe here: https://www.seriouseats.com/choux-au-craquelin