Honey Mascarpone Filling for Cream Puffs
September 9, 2021
There is something about bite-sized treats that just works for me, you know? And these cream puffs are exactly the right size to grab one in each hand to enjoy. The shells themselves are a basic choux dough, but stuffed with the smoothest, richest mascarpone cream filling and dusted with a hint of espresso sugar.
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I have been known to joke about my baked goods being healthy. In most cases, I know that desserts and sweets should probably be enjoyed in moderation. But describing these cream puffs as “essentially a sweet omelet” because of the amount of eggs and mascarpone cheese in them makes for a fun little joke.
In reality, while these are not actually any sort of omelet, they are a perfectly bite-sized treat that is a total crowd pleaser. Here’s a secret though: cream puffs look super impressive when you serve them, but they really aren’t difficult at all.
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for these honey mascarpone cream puffs at your grocery store:
- Pantry: Flour, Honey, Confectioners sugar
- Spice Rack: Salt, Espresso powder
- Fridge: Butter, Eggs, Mascarpone cheese
- Equipment: Sheet pan, Parchment paper, Whisk, Saucepan, Wooden spoon, Piping bag and tip, Cooling rack, Stand mixer, Serrated knife, Mesh strainer
Let’s Make Cream Puff Shells
Cream puffs are a two-part process: the shells and the filling. You can’t fill them until they have completely cooled, so I definitely suggest starting with the profiteroles themselves before moving on to the filling.
The batter comes together quickly, so begin by preheating your oven and preparing a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper or lightly greasing it. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt until combined.
You’ll want to add these together all at once later, so it’s easier to have it ready and set off to the side, rather than rushing to get things together.
In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil, and then add in butter. Your goal here is to melt the butter into the water, but not to let it boil off. Water is an important ingredient in cream puffs. In the oven, it turns into steam and expands, which is what makes these puffy.
Stir gently just until the butter melts, and then immediately reduce the heat. Add the flour mixture all at once into the pot, and stir it vigorously. Use a wooden or sturdy silicone spoon, since the dough can get pretty stiff. The dough will begin to form into a ball and pull away from the edges of the pot.
At this point, remove it from the heat and set the pot aside to cool for about 10 minutes on a trivet or cooling rack. Once it has cooled down, add the eggs one at a time, stirring each one in completely until the mixture is smooth before adding the next.
Transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a closed-star tip, if you desire. Using the piping bag will give you better control over the size and shape of your cream puffs. Plus, they look like little seashells.
Pipe a small spiral, starting in the middle, and going out to create a one-and-a-half inch circle, then coming back toward the center to add height. Make sure they have plenty of space to puff up and spread out by leaving about two inches between puffs.
If you don’t want to pipe them, you can use a cookie scoop or spoon to add the dough to the baking sheet instead. They may not look as fancy, but they will still be completely delicious.
Bake the cream puffs for between twenty and twenty-five minutes. Cream puffs can be deceiving, but they aren’t done unless they are fluffy and dark golden brown. Undercooked puffs will deflate, so if that happens with your first tray, bake the next for a little bit longer.
When they are done baking, immediately move the browned puffs to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely to room temperature before filling them. When it comes to fillings, cream puffs are so versatile. You can pretty much use anything from pudding, to pastry cream, to frosting. But my favorite filling for cream puffs has to be this mascarpone cream.
If you are making these in advance, you will need to eat or freeze the shells within one day of baking. To freeze the uncut and empty shells, place them on a baking sheet, and freeze overnight. Then transfer the frozen puffs to a zip-top bag to store for up to three months.
How to Make the Filling for Cream Puffs
If you’ve ever made tiramisu, this cream involves a similar process. If not, then you’ll be prepared if you ever do need to make it. Start by combining honey and water in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Stir to dissolve the honey, and then bring the mixture just up to a boil. Keep an eye on this, as honey syrup can boil over.
Meanwhile, add egg yolks only to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. I suggest a metal bowl for this. Turn the mixer up to high speed, and while it’s running, slowly pour in the honey syrup. Be careful as this may splatter slightly, but try to get it between the whisk and the edge of the bowl.
The hot honey syrup will both sweeten the cream, and also help to pasteurize the egg yolks. Continue mixing on high for about ten more minutes. It will fluff up into a lovely foamy cream, and when it’s ready, the bottom of the bowl will feel room temperature. Try a little taste of this cream before adding the cheese. It’s super yummy.
Once the cream is cool, it’s time to add in the mascarpone. Turn off the mixer to add it in, and then turn it back on medium to incorporate. This should take just a few minutes to begin forming peaks. When it’s done, the filling will have a texture similar to a heavy whipped cream.
If you are working ahead, you can store the mascarpone cream in a sealed container in the fridge for a few days. When you’re ready to use it, transfer the filling to a clean piping bag fitted with a star tip, or any you choose.
There are a couple different ways to fill cream puffs. I prefer the “sandwich” method, in which you use a serrated knife to cut each cream puff in half like a hamburger bun. If you prefer, you can also use a paring knife to cut a small x-shape in the bottom or side of the puff.
Pipe the filling onto the bottom half of each cream puff (or inside the x-shaped hole you made), and gently place the other half on top. Continue cutting and filling until you have a big pile of cream puffs.
Now all that’s left is to finish them off. I made this step optional, but the dusting of sugar does add a fun flair. However, without it, these cream puffs are totally refined-sugar free, since they are only sweetened with honey!
If you are dusting yours, combine confectioners sugar and espresso powder in a small bowl. Toss these together with a fork until you have a nice uniform mixture. Add the powdered sugar mixture to a small mesh strainer and dust the tops of the cream puffs.
The easiest way to do this is to hold the strainer over the puffs, and then gently tap the side. This will allow just a little snowstorm of sugar to fall onto your cream puffs, creating a lovely dessert.
These fluffy cream puffs are filled with a lightweight honey mascarpone cream, and look gorgeous all piled up. You won’t be able to stop with one!
How to Serve Cream Puffs
If you’re like me, you’ll probably just sit in front of a stack of these babies and keep grabbing “just one more.” But, they really are so good for sharing as well! I love the idea of bringing these to a potluck or picnic, especially as part of a dessert spread. Serve them alongside blueberry lemon bars and miso peanut butter cup cookies.
Cream puffs are also a fun addition to afternoon tea. You can definitely pair these with mango peach iced tea spritzers in warmer weather, or go for the cozier chai white hot chocolate in the winter. More of a coffee person? Pair these with a honey chestnut cafe au lait.
Use Up Leftover Ingredients
- Extra mascarpone adds structure to whipped cream, such as on top of this strawberry rhubarb crumble.
- If you have leftover eggs, let them star in an avocado and tomato omelet.
- But if you’re just looking to use the egg whites, pair them with honey in a pavlova with chai-poached plums.
- Espresso powder can bulk up chocolate, or lend its own flavor, like in espresso chocolate chip muffins.
Cream Puffs with Honey Mascarpone Filling
Cream Puff Shells
- 1 Cup All-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp Salt
- 1 Cup Water
- ½ Cup Butter
- 4 Eggs
Honey Mascarpone Cream
- ½ Cup Water
- ½ Cup Honey
- 4 Egg Yolks
- 16 oz Mascarpone Cheese
Espresso Powdered Sugar (optional)
- ⅛ tsp Espresso Powder
- 1 Tbsp Confectioners Sugar
Cream Puff Shells (Pâte à Choux)
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper or lightly greasing. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt until combined.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil, and then add in the butter and stir gently until it melts. Do not let the water boil off, but as soon as the butter is melted, reduce the heat to low.
- Add the flour mixture all at once into the pot, and stir vigorously, with a wooden or silicone spoon, over medium heat, until the dough begins to form a ball and pull away from the edges. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time, stirring each one in completely until the mixture is smooth, using a wooden or silicone spoon.
- Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a close-star tip, if you desire. Pipe 1 ½-inch circles onto the baking sheets, about 2-inches apart. These will puff up and spread while they bake.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until fluffy and dark golden brown. Immediately move to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely to room temperature before filling.
Honey Mascarpone Cream
- In a small saucepan, combine the honey and water and heat on medium-high. Stir to dissolve the honey, and then bring the mixture to just boiling (watch carefully, as the honey will boil over).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg yolks. Mix on high speed, and slowly pour in the honey syrup while the mixer is on. Be careful as this may splatter slightly.
- After adding the honey syrup, continue mixing on high until it cools down, about 10 minutes. Feel the bottom of the bowl to check the temperature.
- Once cool, add in the mascarpone and mix on medium to incorporate it, until the cream holds its shape and forms peaks, similar to the texture of finished whipped cream.
- Transfer the filling to a clean piping bag fitted with a star tip.
Filling Cream Puffs
- In a small bowl, combine the confectioner sugar and espresso powder, and mix with a fork until uniform.
- Using a serrated knife, cut each cream puff in half like a hamburger bun, separating the top and bottom.
- Pipe about 2-3 Tbsp of the filling onto the bottom half of each cream puff, and gently place the other half on top. Continue until you have filled all the cream puffs.
- Add the powdered sugar mixture to a mesh strainer and dust the tops of the cream puffs, if desired.
- For another way to fill the cream puffs, you use a paring knife to cut a small x-shape in the bottom or side. Then use a piping bag to inject the whipped cream into the puffs, until they begin to fill slightly firm.
- Make Ahead Tips:
- You will need to eat or freeze the shells within one day of baking. To freeze the uncut and empty shells, place them on a baking sheet, and freeze overnight. Then transfer to a zip-top bag to store for up to three months. To reheat, let the shells thaw on a baking sheet, and then bake at 350F for 10 minutes.
- Store the mascarpone cream in a sealed container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- Cream puffs are so versatile. You can pretty much fill them with anything from pudding, to pastry cream, to frosting. Try using whipped cream, pie filling, or adding in fresh berries. You can drizzle the filled puffs with chocolate ganache.