These pretty little cream puffs are filled with a rich coffee liqueur cream that is sandwiched between light and airy choux pastry shells topped with a sweet coffee glaze.
What is a cream puff?
A cream puff is a simple but elegant classic French dessert. It consists of a baked pastry ball that’s full of large air pockets on the inside and that is filled with whipped cream or pastry cream and drizzled with a sweet glaze or dusted with powdered sugar.
Cream puffs are made from choux (pronounced “shoe”) pastry, also called pâte à choux, which is a cooked French pastry dough. Choux pastry is used to make eclairs, churros, cream puffs, gougères (which are basically savory cream puffs) and profiteroles (cream puffs filled with ice cream).
Since all French cream puff recipes are based on choux pastry, the fun part of any cream puff recipe lies in the different flavorings.
What I came up with for the recipe here is a coffee liqueur-flavored whipped cream filling and a coffee liqueur sugar glaze. The sweet coffee flavor pairs well with the rich pastry and makes these puffs a delicious dessert for a special occasion.
A few notes on some of the ingredients:
- This recipe calls for bread flour, which has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour. More protein means more gluten and therefore a stronger structure in the baked good. That’s important for something you want to puff up high during baking, such as these cream puffs.
- You won’t need softened butter for this pastry because you’re going to cook the ingredients.
How to make cream puff shells:
Step 1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F., then add 1 cup whole milk, 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a pot or a saucepan.
Step 2. On high heat, stirring continuously, bring the mix to a boil.
Step 3. Once the mix is boiling, turn the heat down to medium, then add 1 cup bread flour and immediately start to stir with a wooden spoon.
Step 4. Stir the flour in rapidly and soon the dough will come together into a ball that starts to peel away from the sides of the pot.
Step 5. Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and whip it with an electric mixer until it has cooled down to almost room temperature.
Step 6. Whip in 3 whole eggs, one at a time, then 1 egg white.
Step 7. Fill the dough into a large piping bag with a round tip and pipe about 20 small dollops (1.5 to 2 inches wide) onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
RECIPE NOTE: Note that 20 dollops will make puffs that are about 2.5 inches in diameter, which is a little larger than bite size. If you want smaller puffs, pipe 30 puffs instead and reduce the baking time at 325 degrees F. to about 10 minutes.
Step 8. Bake the puffs at 375 degrees F. for 20 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 325 degrees F. and bake for another 20 minutes until the puffs are golden brown. Let the puffs cool completely, then gingerly slice them in half horizontally with a serrated knife.
How to make the filling:
Step 9. Whip 1 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar to stiff peaks. Fill the whipped cream into a piping bag and pipe it onto the bottom halves of the puffs.
How to make the coffee glaze:
Step 10. Cover each puff with a top half, then make the glaze by whisking together 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 2-3 tablespoons coffee liqueur (use as much liqueur as you need to get a slow-moving mass). Drizzle the glaze on the puff tops and let it dry.
Questions and Answers:
When are cream puffs done baking?
They are done when they have turned golden brown.
What size should cream puffs be?
You can make the puffs bite-sized or larger than that. If you pipe 20 puffs, they will be a little bit larger than bite-sized.
When is the best time to fill the cream puffs?
About 1 to 2 hours before serving. Once you’ve filled the puffs, transfer them into an airtight container and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them.
Do cream puffs need to be refrigerated?
Once the puffs are filled, yes, they do need to be refrigerated in an airtight container.
How to store cream puffs?
Store the cream puffs in the fridge for no more than a few hours. Homemade cream puffs taste best when eaten the same day they were baked and I don’t recommend to keep them longer than that.
Can cream puffs be frozen?
Yes, you can freeze the shells (unfilled and unglazed) in ziploc bags. They won’t taste quite as good as freshly baked ones though.
Do you have more cream puff filling ideas?
Yes, I have a recipe for lemon cream puffs that are filled with coriander-infused cream here: Lemon Cream Puffs.
More coffee-flavored desserts:
- Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Espresso Milkshake with Coffee Liqueur
- Coffee Macarons
- White Russian with Chai Spice-Infused Cream
- Chocolate Espresso Pots de Creme
- Spiced Irish Coffee
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Coffee Liqueur Cream Puffs
For the choux pastry:
- 1 cup whole milk
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup bread flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg white
For the filling:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons coffee liqueur
For the choux pastry:
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add milk, butter, sugar and salt to a pot or a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat down to medium, then add the flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon.
- Cook, continuing to stir, until the dough starts to peel away from the sides of the pot.
- Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl, then whip on medium speed until it's cooled down to lukewarm.
- Continuing to beat, add the eggs, one at a time, then add the egg white.
- Fill the dough into a large piping bag with a large, round tip and pipe about 20 dollops onto the baking sheet.*
- Bake for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325 degrees F. and continue to bake until the puffs are golden-brown, about another 20 minutes.
- Let the puffs cool completely, then slice in half horizontally.
For the filling:
- Whip all ingredients to stiff peaks.
- Fill into a piping bag and fill into the cream puffs.
For the glaze:
- Whisk liqueur with powdered sugar and drizzle over the cream puffs.