State Fair Cream Puffs

By • June 9, 2011 • 124 Comments



Author Notes: Every year when I was growing up my family would go to the Wisconsin state fair. One of the things we did every time was get a cream puff. There was always a long line for them with good reason. The crispy outside and slightly custardy inside of the puff, the billowy fresh whipped cream, and a generous dusting of confectioner's sugar combined into an almost magical dessert. These were enormous cream puffs you could eat out of hand, slurping and licking the whipped cream as it oozed out of the shell. Ahhh, memories.

The first summer I was living in Oregon I asked a co-worker who was going to the state fair if they had cream puffs. She looked at me like I had sprouted an extra head, and said “No. They have elephant ears.” It was hard for me to accept. How could the state fair not have cream puffs?? Lucky for me the Wisconsin Baker's Association has published the recipe.

My version is based on the official version. I've tweaked the dough ingredients and the technique to make it easier with a consistently good outcome. (Using some tips from Shirley Corriher and Rose Levy Beranbaum – the food processor was a revelation for the pâte à choux!) I've gone way off the reservation with the filling, so if you are a purist feel free to fill with lightly sweetened vanilla-flavored whipped cream. - hardlikearmour
hardlikearmour

Food52 Review: Hardlikearmour has accomplished something truly admirable with this recipe; she's made cream puffs approachable. She cleverly presses the food processor into service to cool down the dough and then incorporate the eggs; purists will insist in stirring by hand, but this technique proves the elbow grease method simply isn't necessary. She also uses an extra egg white for her puffs, reserving the yolk for glazing the tops. (Shirley Corriher explains that extra white makes for bigger puffs that don't get too gooey inside, and these certainly fit the bill). The dense cream filling is decidedly more boozy than chocolately, but that was fine with us! Who wouldn't want one of these sugar-dusted puffs to help sustain them while waiting in line for yet another go on the ferris wheel? - A&MA&M

Makes about 8 puffs & enough filling for 6 so serve the prettiest 6 puffs

Cream Puffs (adapted from the Wisconsin Baker's Association)

  • ¾ cup water, plus 2 tablespoons (divided)
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • slightly heaping ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup flour (5 oz)
  • 4 eggs, 1 separated and yolk reserved
  • 2 cups bourbon chocolate whipped cream (recipe below)
  • Confectioner's sugar
  1. Heat oven to 425º F with a rack in the lower middle position. Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray, then cover with parchment paper. (Alternately use a Silpat)
  2. Combine ¾ cup water, milk, butter and salt in a 2 quart heavy saucepan. Heat on medium-low, and bring the mixture to a boil. (The butter should melt before it boils.)
  3. Meanwhile whisk the flour for about 30 seconds to aerate and break up any clumps. In a 2 cup liquid measure combine the 3 eggs and 1 egg white and mix to combine. In a small bowl whisk together yolk and 2 tablespoons water (eggwash.)
  4. Once the water has just started to boil, remove it from the heat and dump all of the flour in at once. Stir the mixture with a heat proof spatula until the flour is mostly incorporated. Return to the heat, and use the spatula to smear the mixture across the bottom of the pan continuously for 3 to 4 minutes. A thin film of flour will have build up on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Transfer the dough to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process for 15 seconds to cool slightly. With the processor running add the eggs through the feed tube in a stream over about 15 seconds. Stop the processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Process an additional 30 to 40 seconds until a smooth paste has formed.
  6. Transfer the paste to a gallon plastic bag, cut a ½- to ¾-inch diameter opening in one corner. Pipe the dough into a 2 ½- to 2 ¾-inch circles about 1-inch high, making sure to leave about 2 inches between puffs. Brush the puffs with the eggwash using the pastry brush to smooth the tops of the puffs in addition to coating the puffs. Take care not to get the eggwash onto the baking sheet as it will burn.
  7. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375º F and bake an additional 17 to 20 minutes. The puffs should be a deep golden brown. Turn oven off. Use a paring knife to cut a slit in the side of each puff (where you plan on cutting them in half.) Place the tray of puffs back in the oven, and use a wooden spoon to crack the door open. Allow the puffs to dry in the oven for 60 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on rack before splitting. Can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for a day or two - recrisp for 3 minutes in a 350º oven before serving.
  8. To serve cut puffs in half, fill with about 1/3rd cup of the whipped cream filling, and dust with confectioner's sugar.

Bourbon Chocolate Whipped Cream (adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum)

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dutched cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (I used Knob Creek)
  1. Combine cream, cocoa, and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour to allow the cocoa to dissolve. Whisk by hand or beat with a hand-mixer until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the bourbon. Use to fill cream puffs.
  2. Cook's note: if you don't want to use bourbon, whisk in a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead to round out the chocolate flavor.
Jump to Comments (124)

Comments (124) Questions (1)

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7 months ago Reneesworld

I made these for the first time ever using your recipe and they were wonderful (part of a food challenge using French pastry). My only comment or question is that the egg wash was runny because of the 2 Tablespoons of water recommended to blend with the egg yoke. It had to drip onto the bottom regardless of how careful I was. Did you mean 2 teaspoons, perhaps?
The results were gorgeous regardless. I am thrilled. I read 8 recipes (including LaRouse Gastronique, Alma Lach's Hows and Whys of French cooking and online resources), I am thrilled that I chose yours. Brilliant using the food processor, if a bit tricky to get the dough out. Thanks for this recipe.

Stringio

about 1 year ago Alexandros Zattas

I was kinda troubled about the baking time, 30 minutes overall seemed too much. I also checked out a similar recipe by Gordon Ramsay, he baked them for 18-20 minutes on 200 C degrees, so did I, and they turned out perfect. Also you could just let the dough cool in a plate for 5 minutes and the whisk into a paste adding an egg at a time. Easy recipe, tasty results!

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about 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Glad you liked it! I find if they don't bake long enough they like to deflate.

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about 1 year ago Muse

These look FABULOUS...will have to try making them. Congratulations on your win HLA...Bravo!

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over 1 year ago Tk3

I made these tonight with my gluten free flour. (I use Jules gluten free) I didn't know what to expect, but they turned just like your photo and they were amazing! Thank you! I will be making them again for parties to come!

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Yay! I'm glad they worked out well with GF flour -- I have a friend who's husband has celiac, and it's nice to have another dessert in the arsenal.

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almost 3 years ago Ghost House Kitchen

Yay! These are wonderful. I made them for my friend's art opening and was a big hit.

Is it really a state fair food though? only in WI perhaps?

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Hooray! I'm glad you enjoyed them. They really truly are state fair food in Wisconsin - though the traditional ones have a vanilla whipped cream filling.

Buddhacat

almost 3 years ago SKK

OMG - these are amazing! And congrats on the win - well-deserved as always.

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, SKK!

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almost 3 years ago Meatballs&Milkshakes

Like everyone else, looking at these pictures makes my mouth water! Plus, we're big fans of bourbon around the apartment, so I think I have to try them soon.

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almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, CRS! I made your asparagus salad while my mom was visiting. It was delicious, and she liked it so much she went home and made it for my sister!

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about 3 years ago LocalSavour

They look lovely, delicious and I can't wait to try ~ Congratulations on the win!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

thanks, LS. I hope you get a chance to try them!

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about 3 years ago creamtea

Congratulations hla! THESE LOOK SOOO GOOD!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, creamtea! William Brinson's photo of them is incredible.

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about 3 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Go, HLA!!! these look fabulous!!!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, em-i-lis!

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about 3 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

I have to say that my mouth is watering. I'm a savory cook and pastry is off on the next planet. But I love it when when we bump into each other.

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, pierino! I like doing both savory and pastry. I unfortunately have a devilish sweet tooth.

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about 3 years ago Sagegreen

Congrats on the win. These are perfect fair food!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, SG! Elephant ears are great fair food, too!

Me

about 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Yah!!!!!! I'm so happy to see you in the winner's circle HLA!!!!!! If I can't make it to a State Fair, I can certainly make these and pretend I'm there!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, CS! I am thankful and happy to be in the winner's circle.

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about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

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Hooray!! By the way, have you ever tried making cream puffs with bread flour? It sounds crazy, but a few years ago, I went to make cream puffs and had used all my A-P flour, and didn't have time to run out to the store. (One of those Saturday-afternoon before a Saturday-dinner-party situations, having put in about 60 hours that week on client work . . . ) So I tried it and it worked really well. In fact, they were not only surprisingly good (I suppose I was expecting a disaster), but several guests asked me what my "secret" was. Well, I just got Corriher's two books from the library the other day, and noticed that she actually recommends bread flour in cream puffs! Anyway, just thought I'd pass that along. ;o)

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, AJ! I have never done them with bread flour, but will do so with the next batch.

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about 3 years ago lapadia

Bread flour? Note to self, try that next time! :)

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about 3 years ago lapadia

A Wonderful Win and a Wonderful recipe addition to Food52's Book2; congratulations HLA!!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, lapadia! I'm still in disbelief I'll be in a cook book (an amazing one to boot!)

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about 3 years ago Bevi

Congrats! Wonderful Win!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, Bevi! I feel lucky to have won.

Me

about 3 years ago wssmom

Well done, well-deserved!! Congrats!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, wssmom! I'm just tickled pink.

Sausage2

about 3 years ago fiveandspice

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Way to go HLA! I am not even remotely surprised by this - well deserved - win! :)

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, 5&S! I am elated.

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about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Your story is so lovely, and so are your puffs. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Great congratulations!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, b! I appreciate the win, as well as everyone's kind remarks.

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Hooray! So thrilled for you, hardlikearmour! Congratulations on a well-deserved win with these beauties!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, gr! I am delighted they won.

Mrs._larkin_370

about 3 years ago mrslarkin

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Yahoo!!! Congrats hla!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, mrsL! I'm going to have to consult a thesaurus for more words meaning h*a*p*p*y!

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about 3 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Hurrah! SO glad to see your win and place in the cookbook!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, a! I'm happy to be in the book for sure.

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about 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Congratulations on a well deserved win!! Just a beautiful recipe!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, ipk! Cream puffs are truly the epitome of fair food to me, so I'm ecstatic they won.

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about 3 years ago TiggyBee

Completely thrilled to see your recipe with the gold!! Congrats hla!!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, TB! I am all smiles this morning.

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about 3 years ago dymnyno

Congratulations on a fabulous recipe!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, dymnyno! I'm beyond happy.

Fb

about 3 years ago BlueKaleRoad

Congratulations!! This is a marvelous recipe. I'm using your bourbon chocolate whipped cream as a filling in a birthday cake tomorrow.

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, BKR! I bet it will be delicious in a b-day cake.

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

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Yay!!! Congratulations, love your cream puffs a well deserved win!!!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, sdebrango! I thrilled!!!

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about 3 years ago Lizthechef

Congratulations on your winning recipe!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Yay! Thanks, LtC! I'm doing a little happy dance.

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about 3 years ago checker

My mouth is watering.

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about 3 years ago Midge

Way to go hla!! I'm so excited these are in the finals.

Lorigoldsby

about 3 years ago lorigoldsby

Mmmmm ! Congrats on another finalist pick!

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about 3 years ago Bevi

Congrats! Lush - ious!

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about 3 years ago cookinginvictoria

Congrats, hla! When I was a child, my mother would make cream puffs for a celebratory dessert and I always loved them. Lucky you to get to eat them at the Wisconsin state fair. Anyway, your recipe looks incredible. I have always been a little intimidated by making pate a choux, but your recipe doesn't look too daunting. Also, I love, love the chocolate bourbon whipped cream filling -- sounds and looks heavenly. Can't wait to try this recipe. Best of luck in the finals!!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks to everyone! I'm camping and fishing wirh my husband and father, and only have internet access while we are in Bend getting a late supper. What a wonderful surprise! I'm ecstatic!!!

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about 3 years ago HCR

gorgeous AND more boozy than chocolatey? perfect!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Congrats HLA! Your cream puffs are a thing of beauty!

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about 3 years ago Sagegreen

Congrats on being a finalist! Great recipe. I have to confess that like dymnyno, elephant ears can be pretty sweet, too!

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about 3 years ago dymnyno

Congratulations on being a finalist! (But, I have to admit the Elephant Ears at the Rose Festival were pretty delicious)

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

it's not really a knock on elephanr ears! I was just disappointed because I had other expectations.

Junechamp

about 3 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congrats, HLA. This is truly an inspired recipe.

I've been using the food processor for pate a choux for years. Why not?

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about 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I am so excited for you HLA!!!!! I just KNEW these would (and should) be one of the picks!!! I'm thinking I could use the filling for all kinds of things too!

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about 3 years ago Waverly

These sound so good, hardlikearmour. I cannot imagine any fair in Texas serving them unless they were deep fried. That said, your recipe is a definite keeper. Thank you!

Sausage2

about 3 years ago fiveandspice

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Knew it! Yay HLA!!!!

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about 3 years ago lapadia

This is soooo cool; what did I tell you? Perfect recipe and name for the state fair, love them!! Always a tradition, growing up to have cream puffs for an Easter dessert, one I carried on, however, I always make by hand, sometimes a hand mixer. Next time I am trying the extra egg white and bourbon chocolate whipped cream...in fact I will probably not wait until Easter :) Congrats on your EP and much luck in the finals, HLA!

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about 3 years ago vvvanessa

i totally saw that finalist status coming! : ) congrats!

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about 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Congratulations! I taste a winner!!!

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about 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

cool. congratulations!

Henrykiss

about 3 years ago arielleclementine

congratulations! these sound amazing!

Fb

about 3 years ago BlueKaleRoad

Congratulations! I had a feeling about these... what a terrific recipe. :)

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Yipee!! So thrilled these are a finalist. Congratulations, hardlikearmour!!

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I love these cream puffs, congratulations so excited for you!!! Wonderful recipe.

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about 3 years ago boulangere

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Yahoo! Congratulations!

Mrs._larkin_370

about 3 years ago mrslarkin

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woo hoo! told ya so. :) congrats hla!

Fb

about 3 years ago BlueKaleRoad

Beautiful! Love your story and the bourbon chocolate whipped cream is beyond decadent.

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, BKR. It is beyond decadent for sure!

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about 3 years ago stirfrei

I love the Wisconsin State Fair! We just went, and the cream puffs are definitely the best thing there. I have so many childhood memories from the Fair, and I'm so happy you posted this recipe.

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Me too! We'd go every year when I was a kid and the 2 things that stood out for me were the cream puffs and Herb Kohl's flavored milk.

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about 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I so glad you posted this to remind me to make these. So beautiful and sound sooooo yummy!!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, CS! I hope you get a chance to try them.

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Love! I cannot believe I did not add to the love the first time you posted these. For me, the chocolate bourbon cream really puts these over the top!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, gingerroot! The chocolate bourbon cream is ridiculous.

Lorigoldsby

about 3 years ago lorigoldsby

i have to agree with gingerroot! 'enuf said...LOVE

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, LG.

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about 3 years ago creamtea

These look luscious. I like your "decadent" tag. Definitely a separate category in the recipe box.

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, creamtea. There's just no way to pretend these are good for you!

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about 3 years ago lapadia

I would love to find these at the fair!!!!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Head on over to WI for the classic version! You won't regret it. :)

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

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I commented before but have to again, this looks so good I want one now!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

LOL! Me too. I think I'll have to make some soon.

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about 3 years ago TiggyBee

I missed this first time around - you're so talented!! They sound amazing!!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Aw, shucks! thanks, TB.

Sausage2

about 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Yay! Yum! I still think these look like one of the most amazing things ever!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, 5&spice! Cream puffs are my favorite state fair food of all time!

Me

about 3 years ago wssmom

OMG these look AMAZING love the bourbon chocolate whipped cream!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

What's not to love about bourbon chocolate whipped cream?

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about 3 years ago Joyceski

I live in WI and can't wait until State Fair, but you have to be ready to wait, the line is definitely lonnnnng.

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I remember how long that line is! but it's worth the wait.

Sausage2

about 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

MmmmmMmmmm. They just don't know how to do a good state fair outside of the midwest :). (I think the thing I miss the most - besides the corn - at the MN state fair is the stand where you can get a bucket of fresh baked cookies and then go right down the road to the all the milk you can drink milk dispenser. It's a recipe for overindulgence!) These sound amazingly decadent. I love the chocolate bourbon whipped cream filling, both because it sounds delicious but also because, I find adding cocoa to whipped cream gives it a slightly sturdier texture which I bet works wonderfully in a cream puff.

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks! Part of why I added the cocoa was to make the whipped cream hold up to the addition of the bourbon.

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about 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Oh man, you're killing me here. I decided this morning that this was the day to go on a diet, and now I'm seeing this. They look and sound just fabulously delicious!!! Saved it to celebrate with when the diet is over....

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

LOL. Food52 is not very conducive to weight loss (or maintenance for that matter!)

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, drbabs! ?

Mrs._larkin_370

about 3 years ago mrslarkin

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oh. my. goodness. This looks so delicious!! You should sell these at the Oregon State Fair!! They don't know what they're missing.

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

At the WI state fair it's a huge operation, but I agree, they don't know what they're missing!

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about 3 years ago sdebrango

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So beautiful, that cream filling is over the top. Delicous!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

The cream filling is really over the top - rich w/o being too sweet, and a nice little kick from the bourbon! I wish I had some for my coffee right now.

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about 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Love the story of your memory. Gorgeous photo.

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, boulangere! It's one of the things I most remember about the WI state fair.

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about 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Oh my!! The bourbon cream put me over the edge! Beautiful!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

The bourbon really turns the whipped cream into something special.

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about 3 years ago nogaga

This sounds so good!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, nogaga! I was really happy with the outcome.

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about 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

love

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Definitely try the food processor - it's a dream! Definitely a glitch.

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about 3 years ago lapadia

Yes, I have always mixed by hand. PS - my reply is going to start a new comment box, must be a "glitch" in the programming today.

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Nice tradition! Do you mix the choux by hand? The bourbon chocolate whipped cream is really yummy.

Massimo's_deck_reflection_10_27_13

about 3 years ago lapadia

Ahhhh, was a family tradition for Easter dessert, cream puffs, passed down from my grandmother, to mother and now I carry on the tradition...my twist - it doesn't have to be Easter to have them! I like this bourbon chocolate whipped cream!