Strawberry Cream Puffs

Fancy a baking adventure? These Strawberry Cream Puffs are just the ticket! They’re a little project with big rewards: fluffy, creamy, and bursting with strawberry flavor!

Recipe At a Glance

There are many ways you can make strawberry cream puffs. Here’s my take: choux pastry topped with crumb topping and filled with strawberry pastry cream lightened with whipped cream. It’s my Choux au Craquelin, but with strawberry diplomat cream instead of whipped cream.

The pastry looks beautiful if you top it with fresh strawberries, tastes excellent, and doesn’t require any special skills to prepare. The only downside is that the preparation takes a while.

(If you’re short on time, I cover ways to simplify the dessert later in the article.)

That’s all you need to know for now. Let’s dive right in.

If you’re making these strawberry cream puffs for the first time, please read the ingredients notes, step-by-step instructions, and tips. If you’re familiar with the recipe, feel free to jump to the recipe card.

Strawberry cream puff anatom
Strawberry cream puff anatomy

Ingredients Notes and Substitutes

Choux Pastry

Modern choux pastry ingredients
  • Water and milk. Full-fat milk works best, but skim should work in a pinch. I wouldn’t experiment with vegan milk, as it might alter the flavor of the choux. It’s better to use just water instead.
  • All-purpose flour.
  • Unsalted butter.
  • Eggs.
  • Salt and sugar. Sugar alternatives are perfectly fine.

Crumb Topping

Streusel topping ingredients
  • Unsalted butter.
  • All-purpose flour.
  • Brown sugar. You can use white sugar instead of brown sugar.
  • Red food dye. Great if you want to impress your eaters, but totally optional.

Strawberry Diplomat Cream

Strawberry pastry cream ingredients
  • Milk: Whole fat works best as the fat adds that extra bit of richness.
  • Strawberries: Fresh, frozen, or canned are all okay. You’ll blend and strain them anyway, so no one will know the difference.
  • Lemon juice. Optional, but helps enhance the flavor.
  • Cornstarch: Cornstarch is best, but you can also use potato starch; just halve the amount. Check out my article on cornstarch versus potato starch for more details.
  • Sugar: Regular white sugar works well, but feel free to use any sweetener you like, making sure you adjust the amount.
  • Egg Yolks.
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract adds a bit of flavor to the cream, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you skipped it. If you want to use vanilla beans instead, check out my article on creme patissiere where I cover infusing the milk with beans.
  • Butter: Use unsalted full-fat butter.
  • Heavy cream: Choose the one you use for whipping.
  • Gelatin: I use powdered gelatin, but feel free to use leaves if you like.

How to Make Strawberry Cream Puffs

Here’s a brief overview:

  1. We prep the streusel so that it’s ready for the choux pastry.
  2. We make the strawberry pastry cream, so it has time to chill before we combine it with whipped cream and pipe it inside our puffs.
  3. We prep the choux pastry, combine it with the streusel we made earlier, and bake the puffs.
  4. Once the puffs cool a bit and the pastry cream is warm but not hot, we whip the heavy cream, combine it with the pastry cream, and pipe the puffs.

Let’s get into the details.

Step 1: Make Crumb Topping

(For more detailed information and tips on crumb topping, check out my article on streusel topping.)

  1. Warm Up Butter: Take the butter out, chop it into cubes, and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour. We want it nice and soft. Skip if you’re in a hurry.
  2. Mix Dry Ingredients: Grab a medium bowl and mix your sugar and flour.
  3. Add Butter: Add that room-temperature butter to the mix and mix the ingredients using a fork until you achieve a homogeneous mass. A mixer will also do the trick.
  1. Add Food Dye: If using, add the food dye and stir it until well incorporated. Start with a bit and add more if needed. Use gloves if you’re incorporating the dye using your hands (which is probably the best way).
  1. Roll Out: Sandwich your dough between two sheets of parchment paper or silicone mats, and roll it out thin – aiming for about 1/10 inch or 2 to 3mm thick. When it starts getting tough to roll, peel off the top layer, place it on your work surface, and then flip the dough over onto it. Finish by peeling off and placing the other layer back. Repeat whenever it gets hard to roll.
  1. Refrigerate: Pop the rolled-out dough, still between the sheets, in the fridge for about 30 minutes. That’s when you can start working on choux pastry. For best results, place the rolled-out dough on something that will retain a low temperature for longer, like a cutting board.
  2. Cut: Once the dough is nice and cold, cut it into disks slightly larger than your puffs. Once all the necessary shapes are cut out, gather the remaining streusel scraps using a pairing knife or an offset spatula, form them into a ball, and roll it out or freeze for next time. Be quick here because the dough softens fast.
Cutting the rolled out dough
Cut the rolled-out dough into your desired shape
  1. Refrigerate: Put the cut streusel into the fridge, where it’ll wait until your choux pastry is ready and piped. You can prepare the streusel the day before you need it and leave it overnight in the fridge, or do it even sooner and freeze the disks.
Refrigerate the cut out dough
Refrigerate the cut streusel

Step 2: Make Strawberry Pastry Cream

(Check out my (strawberry pastry cream)[link strawberry pastry cream] recipe for tips and info on how to make the pastry cream more or less intense.)

  1. Bloom Gelatin: Whisk gelatin with water in a small bowl and let the mixture sit on the counter.
  2. Prep Strawberries: Thaw frozen strawberries beforehand or gently cook them in a saucepan with a splash of water until they soften. If using canned strawberries, make sure to drain them well. For fresh strawberries, wash them and remove the stems.
  1. Make Strawberry Puree: Pop the strawberries into a blender and blitz them into a puree. Strain this through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds, aiming for a smooth texture.
  1. Prep Pot: Set aside 1/4 cup of milk, then pour the rest into a saucepan along with the strawberry puree, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and sugar. Whisk these together until they’re nicely blended.
Adding the ingredients
Add the ingredients to the saucepan
  1. Cook: Place the saucepan over medium heat and warm the mixture until it’s just about to boil, stirring regularly to avoid cooking the egg. Frequent whisking is crucial here—every 30 seconds, increasing to more frequent stirring as it heats up.
  2. Prep Starch Slurry: While the mixture heats, mix the reserved milk with cornstarch in a small bowl until the cornstarch is evenly dispersed.
Mixing the starch slurry
Mix reserved milk and cornstarch in a bowl
  1. Add Starch Slurry: As soon as you see bubbles forming in the saucepan, remove it from the heat and swiftly stir in the starch slurry. If the slurry has settled, give it a quick stir to redistribute the starch before adding.
  2. Cook Until Thick and Bubbly: Return the pot to low or medium heat and keep stirring until the mixture thickens significantly and begins to bubble. This should take between 2 to 4 minutes, depending on your stove and pot. Don’t rush this step to prevent the yolks from curdling.
  1. Take Off the Heat and Whisk: Once thickened, remove the pot from the heat and whisk vigorously for another minute to ensure it’s smoothly thickened.
  2. Stir in Butter: Drop in the butter and mix until it’s fully melted and incorporated into the cream.
  1. Taste Test: Carefully taste the cream—it’ll be hot! Adjust with more sugar or vanilla if needed. If you’re adding lemon juice, now is the time.
  2. Stir in Gelatin: Grab the bowl with the bloomed gelatin and scoop its contents into the pastry cream. Whisk until the gelatin melts and is incorporated.
  1. (Optional) Strain: If you notice any lumps or cooked egg bits in your pastry cream, pour it through a strainer into a bowl to achieve a uniform texture.
  2. Cover and Chill: Lay plastic wrap directly on the surface to avoid a skin forming. Let it cool at room temperature until it’s at about 100°F (or 40°C) before you add the whipped cream in step 5.
Cover and chill
Cover with plastic wrap to prevent skin forming and chill

Step 3: Make Choux Pastry

(Read my article on choux pastry for a more detailed description and tips on working with choux pastry!)

  1. Preheat Oven. Start by preheating your oven to 390°F (200°C).
  2. Melt Butter and Bring to a Boil. In a pot, combine butter, milk, water, salt, and sugar, then bring the mixture to a boil, ensuring the butter is fully melted.
  1. Add Flour. Take the pot off the heat, add all the flour to the mixture at once, and stir until it roughly combines. Bring the pot back to the stove and continue stirring with a spoon over low heat. The dough will thicken and clump quickly, but you should continue stirring the mixture for 2-3 minutes, ensuring all the flour is incorporated and no white floury spots are inside. While stirring, scrape the dough from the sides and bottom to prevent sticking. After 2-3 minutes, the dough should be glossy and easy to detach from the pot, and a thin layer, or film, should form on the bottom.
  1. Transfer. Move the dough to a mixing bowl and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Spreading it across the bowl can speed up cooling.
  2. Prepare Eggs. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk them.
Whisk the eggs
Whisk the eggs
  1. Make Dough. Once the dough has cooled slightly, start mixing it with a hand mixer at medium speed. After 20-30 seconds of mixing, add half the eggs to the dough and mix until incorporated. Repeat by adding half of the leftover egg mixture. Now it’s time to get the dough to the right consistency: you want it thick enough to hold its shape but still pipeable. The V-Shape test is the best way to check for that: Dip your mixer whisks or spatula into the dough and lift it. The dough should slowly fall off, eventually leaving a piece of dough hanging that forms a characteristic ‘V’ shape or a triangle at the end of the whisk or spatula. If the dough is not there yet, continue adding the eggs bit by bit and checking the consistency.
Adding the whisked eggs
Mix at medium speed then add the whisked eggs

Step 4: Pipe and Bake Cream Puffs

(Check out my cream puffs article for more info on making cream puffs.)

  1. Prepare Baking Tray. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Optionally, draw 2-inch circles on the underside of the parchment as guides, spaced about 1 1/5 inches apart, for uniformly sized cream puffs.
Cream puffs graphic
Cream puff pastry size
  1. Set up for piping. Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a round tip or use a plastic food bag with a corner cut off.
  2. Pipe the dough. Start by holding your piping bag with a round tip vertically above the baking sheet. Begin piping by gently squeezing the bag, letting the pastry build into a mound. As you form the mound, lift the bag slowly, still squeezing, to let the pastry stack upon itself. Keep the tip partially in the forming mound, guiding it to expand up and out. Aim for about 3/4 inches in height and 2 inches in diameter. To finish, stop squeezing and smoothly pull the tip up and away, leaving a small peak. You can lightly pat this down with a damp finger.
  1. Add streusel. Once the puffs are piped, take the crumb topping discs from the fridge and place one on top of each piped mound, pressing gently.
Add the streusel topping
Add the streusel on top of each piped mound and gently press
  1. Bake. Place the tray in the preheated oven, then immediately reduce the temperature to 356°F (180°C). Bake for 40 minutes. Open the door a tiny bit (and leave them open) for the last 5 minutes for any buildup steam to escape. If the puffs start to brown before the 35-minute mark, lower the temperature to 320°F (or 160°C).
  2. Cool. Remove the puffs from the oven, let them cool for 10 minutes, then carefully detach them from the parchment paper or silicone mat and let them cool on a wire rack for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Baked puffs
Bake puffs for 40 minutes and let them cool

Step 5: Make Strawberry Diplomat Cream

  1. Whip Heavy Cream: Whip heavy cream until stiff peak form. Refrigerate if the pastry cream isn’t ready yet.
Whipping the heavy cream
Whip heavy cream until stiff peak form
  1. Pastry Cream Prep: Before starting, make sure the pastry cream is slightly warm to the touch, but definitely not hot. As mentioned earlier, 100°F or 40°C is the sweet spot. If it’s still too warm, you can chill it in a cold water bath, stirring every now and then. If it’s much colder and has started gelling, you can warm it up in a double boiler until it’s warm and not as stiff. Whisk the pastry cream well before adding whipped cream.
  2. Fold Whipped Cream: Add about one-third of the whipped cream to the pastry cream and stir it together. That helps loosen it up before adding the rest. Repeat with the second and third portions of the whipped cream. When folding, be gentle, as you don’t want to deflate the whipped cream or overbeat it.

Step 6: Pipe and Serve

  1. Pipe: Scoop the strawberry diplomat cream into a piping bag or syringe and fill the puffs. I filled these from the top (as I planned to add a decoration to cover it up), but you can also start at the bottom. Don’t worry about the cream oozing out — it thickens up nicely in the fridge.
Pipe the diplomat cream
Pipe strawberry diplomat cream into puffs
  1. Refrigerate: Tuck the filled puffs and the remaining diplomat cream into the fridge for about an hour. That should be enough time for the cream to firm up. If it’s still a bit wobbly, give it another half hour to an hour in the cold.
  2. Pipe Decorations: When the cream is set, give it a quick whisk to make it smooth and workable again, then pop it into a clean piping bag. Add a little swirl of cream on top of each puff and crown it with a whole strawberry for a finishing touch.
  1. Serve: You can serve these right after decorating or keep them chilled until it’s time to wow your guests.
Cream puffs with strawberry diplomat cream
Cream puffs with strawberry diplomat cream

Variations

Here are some ideas for modifying this recipe according to your needs and time constraints.

Simplify

  • Skip Crumb Topping: While the crumb topping adds a wonderful crunch to the puffs, preparing it can be time-consuming and somewhat tedious. If you prefer, omit this step and simply dust the puffs with powdered sugar, or opt for a straightforward chocolate ganache. The ganache, as I showed in my vanilla cream puffs recipe, takes only 10 minutes to prepare, plus some cooling time. Consider using strawberry-flavored chocolate in the ganache for an extra burst of strawberry taste. Without the crumb topping, you don’t need as much pastry cream because the puffs won’t expand as much, allowing for less filling. Therefore, reduce the filling ingredients by a quarter.
  • Stick with Pastry Cream: Rather than preparing creme diplomat, which involves combining whipped cream with pastry cream and stabilizing it with gelatin, you can fill the puffs with pastry cream. Remove the gelatin and heavy cream from the mix and triple the remaining pastry cream ingredients (or double if you’re omitting the top decoration). This approach results in a denser, richer filling as it doesn’t incorporate the lightness of whipped cream.
Streusel-topped-strawberry-cream-puffs

Elevate

  • Add Glaze: For an extra touch of elegance, prepare a simple powdered sugar glaze. In a mixing bowl, whisk one cup of powdered sugar with a splash of vanilla extract and enough water or lemon juice (typically 1 to 1.5 tablespoons) to achieve a consistency suitable for drizzling. This will enhance the visual appeal and add a sweet, refined finish to your cream puffs.
Streusel-topped cream puffs with strawberry diplomat cream
Streusel-topped cream puffs with strawberry diplomat cream

Storage

You can store these cream puffs in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Make sure the container is sealed tightly so they don’t absorb any smells.

Please note that the crumb topping will gradually soften in storage, so these are best served fresh or after a couple of hours in the fridge. The overall quality will be noticeably worse the next day.

Cream puffs stuffed with strawberry diplomat cream

Strawberry Cream Puffs

Fancy a baking adventure? These Strawberry Cream Puffs are just the ticket! They’re a little project with big rewards: fluffy, creamy, and bursting with strawberry flavor!
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Assembly: 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Cream Patisserie, Cream Puffs, Creme Diplomat, Diplomat Cream, Pastry Cream, strawberries, Strawberry Cream Puffs
Servings: 16 Strawberry Cream Puffs

Equipment

  • 1 whisk
  • Stand mixer

Ingredients

Choux Pastry:

  • ¼ cup water ~60 ml
  • ¼ cup milk ~60 ml
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter ~45 g
  • oz all-purpose flour ~70 g
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • tsp sugar
  • 2 large eggs ~95g after cracking

Streusel Topping:

  • 2 oz unsalted butter 4 tbsp or 61g
  • 2 oz all-purpose flour 1/2 cup or 61g
  • 2 oz light brown sugar 1/4 cup or 61g
  • Food dye optional

Strawberry Diplomat Cream:

  • 1 cup milk ~240g
  • 12 oz strawberries ~340 g, or 1 cup strawberry puree
  • 4 egg yolks medium or large (about 60-70 g)
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch ~40 g
  • 7 tablespoons sugar ~87 g
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice (~20 ml, optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter ~28 g
  • 4 tsp gelatin ~12g
  • 4 tbsp water 60g
  • 2 cups heavy cream ~480 ml

Instructions

Streusel:

  • Soften Butter: Cut the butter into cubes and let it soften at room temperature for about an hour.
  • Mix Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, combine sugar and flour.
    2 oz light brown sugar, 2 oz all-purpose flour
  • Add Butter: Incorporate the softened butter using a fork or mixer until evenly mixed.
    2 oz unsalted butter
  • Add Food Dye: If using, add the food dye and stir it until well incorporated.
    Food dye
  • Roll Out Dough: Between parchment papers, roll dough to a thickness of 2-3mm. Peel and replace paper as needed for easier rolling.
  • Refrigerate: Refrigerate the rolled dough (still between sheets) for about 30 minutes, ideally on a cutting board that will retain temperature for longer.
  • Cut Shapes: Cut the dough into 1.5 to 2-inch disks quickly before it softens, remove the excess, and return the disks to the fridge.

Strawberry Pastry Cream:

  • Bloom Gelatin: In a small bowl, whisk gelatin with water and let it sit until needed.
    4 tsp gelatin
  • Strawberry Prep: Thaw or gently cook frozen strawberries; drain canned ones well; wash and de-stem fresh strawberries.
    12 oz strawberries
  • Puree: Blend strawberries into a puree and strain for smoothness.
  • Mix Ingredients: In a saucepan, combine all but 1/4 cup of milk with the strawberry puree, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and sugar. Whisk well.
    4 egg yolks, 7 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup milk
  • Heat Mixture: Cook over medium heat until nearly boiling, stirring frequently to prevent the yolks from curdling.
  • Cornstarch Slurry: Mix the reserved milk with cornstarch until smooth.
    4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Combine Slurry: Add the slurry to the heated mixture as soon as bubbles appear, stirring quickly.
  • Thicken Cream: Return to heat and stir continuously until the mixture thickens and bubbles, about 2-4 minutes.
  • Finish Cooking: Remove from heat, whisk vigorously for a minute to smooth out the texture.
  • Add Butter: Incorporate butter into the cream until melted and smooth.
    2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Season to Taste: Adjust sweetness and flavor with additional sugar or vanilla; add lemon juice if using.
    4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Add Gelatin: Add bloomed gelatin and whisk until dissolved.
  • Strain (Optional): Strain to remove any lumps or cooked egg bits.
  • Cover: Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until it cools to about 100°F (or 40°C).

Choux Pastry:

  • Preheat Oven: Heat oven to 390°F (200°C).
  • Boil Butter Mixture: In a pot, mix butter, milk, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil, ensuring the butter melts completely.
    ¼ cup milk, 3 tbsp unsalted butter, ¼ tsp salt, 1¼ tsp sugar, 4 tbsp water, ¼ cup water
  • Add Flour: Off the heat, add the flour and stir. Return to low heat, stirring continuously for 2-3 minutes until the dough is thick, glossy, and leaves a thin film on the pot bottom.
    2½ oz all-purpose flour
  • Cool Dough: Transfer dough to a bowl and let it cool for 10 minutes, spreading it out to cool faster.
  • Whisk Eggs: Beat eggs in a separate bowl.
    2 large eggs
  • Mix Dough: With the dough slightly cooled, mix with a hand mixer. Gradually add half the eggs, mix, then add the remaining eggs bit by bit until the dough forms a 'V' shape when lifted with a whisk or spatula.

Bake:

  • Prepare Tray: Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  • Pipe Dough: Fill a piping bag and pipe dough onto the tray in 2-inch mounds, leaving 1¼ inches space between each.
  • Add Streusel: Place refrigerated streusel discs on each dough mound.
  • Bake: Place the baking tray in the oven, immediately reduce temperature to 356°F (180°C), and bake for 40 minutes until slightly browned. Open the oven door slightly for the last 5 minutes of baking.

Strawberry Creme Diplomat

  • Whip Cream: Whip cream until stiff.
    2 cups heavy cream
  • Combine with Pastry Cream: Fold whipped cream into cooled and whisked strawberry pastry cream in stages to keep it light.

Assembly

  • Fill Puffs: Pipe strawberry diplomat cream into cooled puffs.
  • Chill: Refrigerate filled puffs and the leftover strawberry diplomat cream for at least an hour to set.
  • Decorate and Serve: Decorate each puff with the leftover (now stiff) diplomat cream and a strawberry on top before serving.

Notes

Reduce the Strawberry Diplomat Cream ingredients by a quarter if you don’t want to decorate the puffs with the cream.
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