Cream Puff Christmas Tree Recipe


Sweet Christmas Homemade Peppermints, Sugar Cake, ChocolateA proper French croquembouche is a glorious confection, made of delicate cream puffs piled high and held together with gossamer threads of spun sugar. This is not a croquembouche. Cream puffs are a little more complicated than, say, chocolate chip cookies, but this one is so easy. You do beat eggs into a hot batter to make a choux pastry that puffs nicely in the oven, but this simplified version skips piping the batter in favor of dropping it from a teaspoon. Then you fill each puff with whipped cream, pile the puffs up with a little frosting, and finish the whole thing off with a garland of chocolate ganache.

  • Yield: 10 Servings (60 small cream puffs)


For the cream puffs
  • 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) butter
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
For the filling
  • 2½ cups whipping cream
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
For the icing and Chocolate drizzle
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate (such as Ghirardelli’s 60% or 70% cacao bar)
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and butter 2 baking sheets.
  2. To make the cream puffs
  3. Put 1¼ cups of water and the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a rolling boil. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour until smooth. Take the pan off the heat and cool for 5 minutes, stirring a few times. Break in the eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously after each. Continue to beat until the mixture is shiny and pulls away from the sides of the pan. (You can also do this with a stand mixer.)
  4. Use a pair of spoons to drop the batter by the teaspoon onto the prepared pans. Don’t crowd the pastry; about 1 dozen puffs per sheet is good. Bake, in batches, for 25 to 30 minutes, until they are puffed and golden. Lift the puffs onto racks and cool them completely.
  5. While the puffs cool, make the filling: Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.
  6. Then, make the icing
  7. Beat the butter until fluffy, then gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar. Add the vanilla and beat in the milk by the teaspoon, adding only as much as needed to make a stiff frosting. This is your glue, so don’t make it too thin.
  8. Pile the whipped cream into a large pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Use a paring knife to cut a hole in the side of each cream puff. Insert the tip of the pastry bag and pipe a little whipped cream into each puff. (A pastry bag is easy here, but you can also split the puffs, fill them, and push them back together.)
  9. Set aside the prettiest cream puff for the top of your tree. Pick out the largest puffs and spread a bit of icing on the base of each one. Arrange them into an 8- or 9-inch circle (using 15 to 18 puffs) on a serving platter. Add a second, smaller layer, spreading a bit of icing on the base of each to stick them to the ones below. Continue in this manner, building a cone shape and ending with the reserved puff on top. Refrigerate the cream puff tree for up to 3 hours.
  10. When ready to serve, make the chocolate drizzle
  11. Bring the cream nearly to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove it from the heat. Break the chocolate into the cream and stir to melt it. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Right before serving, drizzle chocolate sauce from a spoon over the outside of the cream puff tree. Serve extra chocolate sauce on the side.

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