coconut cream puff birthday
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: a crowd
  • FOR THE PATE DE CHOUX (this makes about 40 small puffs):
  • 1¼ cups water
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • FOR THE DIPLOMAT CREAM FILLING: 2 cups (500 ml) full-fat coconut milk*
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ½ cup (100 grams) sugar
  • ⅓ cup (40 grams) all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream, whipped
  1. FIRST, MAKE THE CREAM PUFF SHELLS: In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil.
  2. Add flour all at once and stir constantly until a smooth ball forms.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with a whisk after each. It will look curdled at first. Don't worry: this will change.
  5. Continue beating until mixture is shiny and silky.
  6. If you feel your batter is a bit thin, put it into the fridge for a few minutes. You need to have a little thickness in the batter to pipe successfully. Fill up your piping bag and pipe 2-inch rounds (or larger, depending on what your crowd wants) about 3 inches apart onto parchment-lined or silicon-lined baking sheets. You can use a muffin scoop too, if you want larger puffs. I piped almost 40 small puffs, but made a couple of large ones, specifically for a birthday candle placement.
  7. If you want a shiny crust: in a separate bowl, whisk the milk and an egg; brush over puffs. (I did not do this -- the puffs were still beautiful.)
  8. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, then turn down oven to 350 degrees F WITHOUT OPENING OVEN DOOR and bake for about 10 more minutes. For my small puffs, this was perfect timing for a golden crust and crisp insides. The large puffs needs a little more time. Remove from oven and immediately poke undersides with a straw to allow steam to escape while cooling and prevent sogginess.
  9. Cool on wire racks until cool enough to handle.
  10. (Or, you can split puffs open, remove tops, and set aside. Discard soft dough from inside. Fill when cooled.)
  11. TO MAKE THE DIPLOMAT CREAM: Heat coconut milk in saucepan. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the milk and throw in the pod (or stir in extract).
  12. Bring to an ever-so-slight boil, then remove from the heat, cover, and set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, beat the yolks and sugar until pale, thick ribbons form.
  14. Gradually beat in the flour and salt.
  15. Whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture in a thin stream, tempering the mixture.
  16. Return the mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring CONSTANTLY until the mixture thickens. It make look a little curdled; don't worry, just keep stirring and nip down the heat. Strain and set aside to cool with buttered plastic wrap on top to prevent a skin from forming. You can make this up to a week in advance, keeping in the fridge until ready to use.
  17. When cool or removed from the fridge, fold in the whipped cream. Hey, you're ready to fill these babies! But wait -- think about your GOALS first....WHEN you decide to fill your shells depends on your mouthfeel goal. Do you like a crisp shells and an oozy inside? Wait until about an hour or less before serving to fill these. I find 4 hours is okay too, if not humid weather. If you like a chewy, softer shell with your custard, fill hours in advance, and keep chilled until serving. Some people also have luck with filled shells, freezing, and thawing completely. I find the shells are more soft and sometimes soggy. They are still delicious; you just don't have the textures of crispy/soft to enjoy.
  18. FILLING THE PUFFS: Once you have folded in your whipped cream into the pastry cream, fill another pastry bag with a wide tip with mixture. Pipe into previously punctured puffs, filling so some of the cream starts to ooze. Repeat with as many shells as you want to use. Or, you can freeze unfilled shells.
  19. Next, find your favorite caramel or chocolate sauce and drizzle thin strands on top. Peach requested caramel, which I was going to make, but we ran out of time. I used a high-quality store-bought caramel sauce and sprinkled on unsweetened coconut. While Peach's friends were not crazy about the flavor, the adults and our family loved it. Coconut is a crowd pleaser for us!
  20. IF FREEZING SHELLS: Freeze unfilled for up to 3 months, about 2 months on filled shells. If unfilled, remove from the freezer 15 minutes before filling. If they are not as crisp as you would like them, refresh in the oven at about 350 degrees F for 5 to 10 minutes (I never do this and never have a problem). Makes about 40 small shells.
* If your canned coconut milk doesn't quite come up to the 500ml you need, you can top it off with heavy cream or whole milk.
Recipe by story of a kitchen at