There is something wonderful about eating cream puffs – especially when those cream puffs are freshly baked and filled. Cream puffs are made with choux pastry, a plain and versatile french pastry dough that can be shaped and filled in a wide variety of different ways. These Lemon Curd Cream Puffs are a wonderful springtime cream puff recipe that all lemon-lovers are sure to enjoy. The puffs are filled with a simple filling that is made primarily with whipped cream and lemon curd, which gives them a lovely light texture but a tremendous amount of flavor in every bite.
The finished cream puffs taste a bit like little lemon meringue or lemon custard pies, with a relatively plain pastry shell and a luscious filling. I recommend making the cream puffs bite sized or just a bit larger, as it is nice to be able to pop them into your mouth in one single bite. If you make them larger than that, you’ll risk the lemon filling oozing out as you bite into the pastry – however this won’t be much of a problem if you happen to have a few napkins handy. They’re well worth any mess you might make when you bake them.
The filling only uses a few ingredients and I started mine with my favorite homemade lemon curd recipe and whipped heavy cream. The heavy cream gives the filling a mousse-like texture and tempers the strong lemon flavor of the curd just enough. You can also use storebought lemon curd if you want to cut down on the prep time. In addition to the curd, I also added a little bit of confectioners’ sugar and some fresh lemon zest to the filling, which added a little extra sweetness to the lemon curd and helped ensure that the lemon flavor popped in every bite (I especially recommend using the zest if you are using storebought curd).
They can be served either at brunch or as dessert. They don’t need any accompaniments, however a few fresh raspberries or strawberries pair well with these in both looks and taste if you want to add a little garnish. While the choux does take a few minutes to prepare, these little pastries are actually very easy to make and look so elegant when they are served that people might think you picked them up at a bakery!
Lemon Curd Cream Puffs
Pate a Choux
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine water, milk, butter and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Once that mixture boils, add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula until dough comes together in a ball. Continue to cook and stir for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, then turn off the heat.
Transfer dough to mixer or clean bowl and let mix at a low speed for 2-3 minutes, or until slightly cooled (bowl should not be too hot to touch). Beat in eggs one at a time, waiting until each egg is fully incorporated to add the next one. Increase mixer speed to make batter smooth and velvety.
Transfer choux to a piping bag fitted with a large round or star tip. Pipe choux onto prepared pans in 1 1/2-2-inch rounds, allowing about 2 inches between each round to allow for spread.
Bake the pastries for 20-25 minutes, or until deep golden brown and firmly set. Allow puffs to cool for 5-10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
To fill: Cut each pastry puff almost in half, trying to leave a small piece of the pastry connected on one side of each puff. Transfer Lemon Creme Filling (recipe below) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off. Pipe the filling generously into the pastries.
Dust the pastries with confectioner’s sugar, if desired, before serving.
Serve within 1-2 hours of assembly, storing puffs in the refrigerator if necessary.
Makes about 24.
Lemon Creme Filling
1 cup heavy cream, cold
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
2/3 cup lemon curd
In a medium bowl, beat heavy cream to soft peaks. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and lemon zest, then fold in the lemon curd until it has been completely incorporated.