My Nonna is an all-star cook and baker. I dream of her food often and can’t say no whenever she offers to make me a bowl of pasta or her famous kale and beans. I recently found out she came to America not really knowing how to bake because her mother never baked, but ended up learning from a dear friend.
This was SHOCKING to me because she’s great. Like one of the best! I was even more surprised to learn that her cream puffs weren’t passed down by her great-grandma or something. She learned this recipe from that same friend – craziness!
Speaking of my nonna’s cream puffs, this past Monday was National Cream Puff Day and I celebrated by going over to her house and learning how to make them. And not surprisingly, Nonna also threw together an assortment of Italian meats and cheese and a giant bowl of pasta with ricotta, so nobody left with an empty stomach.
It’s always fun learning how to cook/bake from Nonna. Most of the time she doesn’t even measure her ingredients, so it’s a lot of “a pinch of that” and “about a handful of this”. She definitely made my cousins and me laugh when she told us she makes extra custard just so she can eat a couple of extra scoops out of the bowl. My kind of woman!
To make these cream puffs, she cooks both the batter and custard over the stove and let me know you can easily make the batter and custard ahead of time (keeping them separate and then filling the cream puffs the day you plan on serving them). The batter puffs up perfectly in the oven and the dough ends up airy and soft, yet hard enough to hold the custard together. Speaking of custard, holy cow is this custard bomb. I don’t blame my Nonna for wanting extra helpings for herself.
How cute is she with my cousins and daughter? If you end up making my Nonna’s cream puffs, don’t forget to tag your photos with #marinamakeseats! Hope you enjoy these as much as I do.
Nonna’s Cream Puffs
Makes 24 cream puffs
- 1 cup of water
- 1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 4 large eggs
- Powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup of flour
- 3 tablespoons of corn starch
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 3 3/4 cup of whole milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
To make the batter, place water, butter and a couple of pinches of salt in medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat. Mix the flour and baking powder together and add the flour mixture to the pan, stirring until combined.
Place batter in a standing mixer (or use a handheld mixer) and use a whisk attachment to whip everything together. Once the batter is cooled down, add the eggs and mix until combined. Make sure you scrape down the sides in the process to ensure everything is mixed properly.
Press plastic wrap directly over, blanketing the batter. Place in the fridge for about an hour or two to cool down and harden, or place it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes if you’re running low on time.
While the batter is cooling down, start preparing the cream. Heat a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat and add the flour, cornstarch and sugar. Whisk everything together. While stirring, slowly add the whole milk, and then the egg yolks. Continue stirring for about 7-10 minutes until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from the heat and add a tablespoon of butter and vanilla stirring to combine. Set in the fridge to cool.
Next, take the batter out of the fridge. Drop 2 teaspoons of the batter (forming each into a ball with a spoon) onto a baking sheet. Bake for about 30-35 minutes.
After the batter puffs up and is golden brown, take the baking sheet out of the oven and cut each puff almost all the way in half with a serrated knife. Fill each puff with two tablespoons of custard and top with powdered sugar.