Hazelnut Cream Puffs

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-41Holiday baking is fast approaching, and cream puffs are some of my favorite pastries to both prepare and indulge in. They can be made in advance, which always comes in handy during this busy time of year. My favorite filling for cream puffs is pastry cream, and this time, I used a recipe for Hazelnut Pastry Cream that I found on Cook’s Illustrated. Of course, there are many other options, as simple as whipped cream or a cream cheese frosting. Hazelnuts are my favorite nuts hands down, and they bring a festive flair to anything they are included in. I absolutely love the flavor and texture of this pastry cream, and I’m sure I’ll be using it in many other desserts too. The hazelnut praline is worth every second that it takes to prepare. I would be as happy as a squirrel if someone just gave me a box of the praline to munch on.

In my experience, I can hardly ever find hazelnuts in grocery stores, since most of them only sell hazelnuts during this time of year. I like to enjoy them all year long, so I order them online and always have a nut stash in my freezer.  

Ingredients:

Cream Puffs:

1 cup water

1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons) butter

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup all purpose flour

4 large eggs

Instructions:

Cream Puffs:

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-64Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter and salt. Cook until the butter completely melts.

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-63Add the flour all at once and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon, until the dough comes together in a ball. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-61Continue cooking and mixing for a minute or two. Take off the heat. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-60You can do the rest of the steps by hand, or using a stand mixer, with a paddle attachment.

If you are mixing it by hand, cool the batter for 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are fully incorporated. If you are mixing the batter in a stand mixer, place the hot batter into the bowl and mix with a paddle attachment, until you don’t see any more steaming rising up from the bowl and then add the eggs one at a time. At first, the batter will look curdled, but it will eventually become smooth.

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-59

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-58Pipe out the batter into 1 1/2 inch circles, about 1- 1 1/2 inches apart, on the prepared baking sheet. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-57You can also drop the batter onto the cookie sheet with a spoon or use an ice cream scoop. When I pipe out the batter, I smooth out the top a bit with a damp finger or a damp spoon. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-56

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-55Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven.Without opening the oven, decrease the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, bake for another 8-10 minutes.

While the cream puffs are baking, try not to open the oven door, or they will fall and deflate.

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-54You will have 35-40 cream puffs.  

Cream puffs can be stored (without the pastry cream) in an airtight container for up to 2 days; freeze for longer storage. If you are not filling them right away, use a wooden skewer to poke some small holes in each cream puff, to let the steam escape. This will prevent the cream puffs from getting soggy on the inside. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-49

Hazelnut Cream Puffs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sweets
Serves: 35 cream puffs
Ingredients
  • Cream Puffs:
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup (8 Tablespoons) butter
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • Hazelnut Pastry Cream (recipe below)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter and salt. Cook until the butter completely melts.
  3. Add the flour all at once and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon, until the dough comes together in a ball. Continue cooking for a minute or two. Take off the heat.
  4. You can do the rest of the steps by hand, or using a stand mixer, with a paddle attachment. If you are mixing it by hand, cool the batter for 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are fully incorporated. If you are mixing the batter in a stand mixer, place the hot batter into the bowl and mix with a paddle attachment, until you don't see any more steaming rising up from the bowl and then add the eggs one at a time. At first, the batter will look curdled, but it will eventually become smooth.
  5. Pipe out the batter into 1½ inch circles, about 1- 1½ inches apart, on the prepared baking sheet. You can also drop the batter onto the cookie sheet with a spoon or use an ice cream scoop. When I pipe out the batter, I smooth out the top a bit with a damp finger.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.Without opening the oven, decrease the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, bake for another 8-10 minutes. While the cream puffs are baking, try not to open the oven door, or they will fall and deflate.You will have 35-40 cream puffs.
  7. Cream puffs can be stored (without the pastry cream) in an airtight container for up to 2 days; freeze for longer storage. If you are not filling them right away, use a wooden skewer to poke some small holes in each cream puff, to let the steam escape. This will prevent the cream puffs from getting soggy on the inside.
  8. Cut the cream puffs in half with a serrated knife, pipe the hazelnut pastry cream into the center and cover with the top of the cream puff.

I like to make the pastry cream first, since it needs time to chill in the refrigerator. You can even make it several days in advance. Since you can make the cream puffs in advance also, you can do either of them first.

Hazelnut Pastry Cream: 

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 cups half and half

5 large egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons all purpose flour

3 Tablespoons butter, cut into 3 pieces, chilled

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 Tablespoon hazelnut liqueur, optional

1 cup heavy cream, chilled

1-2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Instructions:

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-75Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and set aside until the gelatin softens.  

In a small saucepan, bring the half and half to a simmer. Do not boil.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until smooth. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-74Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-73

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-72When the half and half is just barely simmering, slowly pour a ladle of the hot liquid into the bowl, while you are whisking at the same time. This is called tempering and means that you are slowly heating up the egg mixture to make sure that the eggs don’t scramble. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-71Whisk in another ladle of hot liquid and then return everything to the same saucepan and cook on medium or low heat until the mixture thickens and you see big bubbles bursting on the surface. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-70

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-69

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-68Remove from the heat.

Add the butter, softened gelatin and the vanilla extract. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-67Whisk until smooth. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-66Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Mine was really smooth this time, so I didn’t have to do it. Place some parchment paper right on top of the pastry cream, which will prevent a skin from forming on top. Chill in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes.Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-65Hazelnut Praline: 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skin removed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon oil

Instructions:

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-79Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.

In a small saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring a few times so that the sugar dissolves. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-78Decrease the heat to medium low and continue cooking without stirring for 8-15 minutes, until the syrup is golden brown. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-77Take off the heat immediately and add the hazelnuts. Mix very quickly and pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet, smoothing it out so the hazelnuts are in one layer. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-76

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-53Cool for 30 minutes.

Break the cooled praline into small pieces and place them into a food processor. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-52Pulse until finely ground. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-51Add the salt and the oil and mix until combined into a crumbly paste.

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-50

When the pastry cream has chilled, add the hazelnut praline paste and fold to combine. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-47Add the hazelnut liqueur. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-46Meanwhile, in a standing mixer with a whisk attachment (I usually chill the bowl and the whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes first) whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-48Fold in the whipped cream into the pastry cream gently.

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-45

Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-44You can make this pastry cream in advance and store it in the refrigerator.

Cut the cream puffs in half with a serrated knife, pipe the hazelnut pastry cream into the center and cover with the top of the cream puff. Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-42You can use a spoon to fill them too. You can also use a pastry bag to pipe the pastry cream inside the cream puffs without cutting them first, if you’d like.Hazelnut Cream Puffs-1-41

Hazelnut Pastry Cream
 
Author:
Ingredients
Hazelnut Pastry Cream:
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1½ cups half and half
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, cut into 3 pieces, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ Tablespoon hazelnut liqueur, optional
  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1-2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
Hazelnut Praline:
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skin removed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
Instructions
Pastry Cream
  1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and set aside until the gelatin softens.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the half and half to a simmer. Do not boil.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until smooth.
  4. Add the flour and whisk until smooth.
  5. When the half and half is just barely simmering, slowly pour a ladle of the hot liquid into the bowl, while you are whisking at the same time. This is called tempering and means that you are slowly heating up the egg mixture to make sure that the eggs don't scramble. Whisk in another ladle of hot liquid and then return everything to the same saucepan and cook on medium or low heat until the mixture thickens and you see big bubbles bursting on the surface. Remove from the heat.
  6. Add the butter, softened gelatin and the vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.
  7. Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Place some parchment paper right on top of the pastry cream, which will prevent a skin from forming on top. Chill in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes.
Hazelnut Praline:
  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring a few times so that the sugar dissolves.
  3. Decrease the heat to medium low and continue cooking without stirring for 8-15 minutes, until the syrup is golden brown.
  4. Take off the heat immediately and add the hazelnuts. Mix very quickly and pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet, smoothing it out so the hazelnuts are in one layer. Cool for 30 minutes.
  5. Break the cooled praline into small pieces and place them into a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Add the salt and the oil and mix until combined into a paste.
Assembling:
  1. When the pastry cream has chilled, add the hazelnut praline paste and fold to combine. Add the hazelnut liqueur.
  2. Meanwhile, in a standing mixer with a whisk attachment (I usually chill the bowl and the whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes first) whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in the whipped cream into the pastry cream gently.
  3. You can make this pastry cream in advance and store it in the refrigerator.

 

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