I can't begin to tell you where this idea came from. My kiddos love root beer, so I'll buy some for special occasions. My ideas usually grow and morph over days, and many times I'll still make last-second changes to the direction of a recipe as I'm whipping it up in my kitchen. Not so with these! The idea for these came suddenly, and I never went off course: we needed Root Beer Float Cream Puffs in our lives!
These Root Beer Float Cream Puffs are filled with root beer pastry cream and topped with vanilla bean whipped cream! They have all the flavors of the classic soda shop treat, right down to the cherry on top!
The Best Ingredients!
If you really want your flavors to shine through, you have to use the best ingredients that you can. Using a good quality root beer for your pastry cream will absolutely make a difference in the flavor!
I really wanted to pack a punch of vanilla flavor into the whipped cream so that the flavor would mimic the vanilla ice cream in a root beer float. As always, vanilla bean paste does the job beautifully! If you're interested in getting some for yourself, you can find it here. If you prefer to substitute, you can use an equal measure of vanilla extract.
I am not a fan of the electric-red maraschino cherries that you typically find at the grocery store. I usually use a local brand of beautiful, dark maraschino cherries (Michigan cherries ftw!), but they don't have stems and I really wanted that look. If you're looking for high-quality maraschinos with stems, I bought these here.
Piping Choux Pastry:
You’ll want to read through the recipe directions in their entirety before starting. I’m terrible about doing this myself, but it could save you the heartbreak of deflated cream puffs. I give a couple of tips to avoid this from happening. First, when piping the choux mounds, make sure they’re at least 2″ apart on the baking sheet. If they’re too close together, the steam that escapes while baking could cause them to deflate.
I give a suggested dimension for the mounds (2″ across by ¾″ tall), but it’s more important that they’re all uniform in size rather than meeting these specific dimensions. Just be aware that bigger choux mounds will take more time to bake, and smaller ones will be done sooner.
When piping the choux, I found that if you hold the bag straight up and stay in the center as you squeeze the piping bag, you end up with a more uniform (round) shape.
Notes on Equipment:
There aren't any specialty items that are required for this recipe! I used parchment sheets to line my pans for easy cleanup. The ones I use are pre-cut to the size of the pan and they’re nonstick! If you’d like to get some for yourself, you can find them here.
I also used small (4"x4") pre-cut parchment squares to keep everything clean after the cream puffs were filled, since they may leak pastry cream out the bottom a bit. If you're interested, you can find them here.
Lastly, I fitted my piping bag with a small, round piping tip (I used a no. 7) to help poke the holes in the bottoms of the cream puffs so I could pipe the pastry cream inside. If you don't have a small piping tip, you can use a small paring knife or chopstick to help you poke the holes in the bottoms.
So there it is. Another recipe that absolutely no one asked for. 😀 I don't think that Root Beer Float Cream Puffs are going to take the world by storm, but they're certainly popular at my house!
Other posts you may like:
Choux pastry recipe for cream puffs adapted from Pierre Herme Pastries (link here).
Root Beer Float Cream Puffs
Root Beer Reduction:
- 24 oz root beer
Root Beer Pastry Cream:
Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream:
- maraschino cherries, if desired (see note)
For Root Beer Reduction:
- Pour the root beer into a medium saucepan and warm over medium-low heat until reduced to about ½ cup (4 ounces). It will take more time doing this over lower heat, but if you boil the root beer over higher heat the root beer will caramelize, and that won't work in the pastry cream!
For Pastry Cream:
- In a medium heatproof bowl, combine cornstarch, sugar, and egg yolks. Whisk to combine (mixture will the thick).
- In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until milk just begins to bubble around the edges.
- Slowly pour about one cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. This will temper the eggs. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and, stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until thickened.
- Once the mixture is thick, add the root beer reduction and butter and stir to incorporate.
- To ensure that your pastry cream is velvety smooth, you can strain it through a fine-mesh strainer at this point if you'd like (I always do). Scrape pastry cream into a bowl and cover with plastic, pressing the plastic to the surface of the cream so it doesn't form a skin. Chill completely before using.
For Cream Puffs (Choux Pastry):
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Line baking sheet with parchment (see note) and set aside.
- Combine water, milk, sugar, salt, and butter in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once boiling, and while still on the heat, add the flour. Quickly beat mixture with a wooden spoon until smooth and shiny. Mixture will pull away from the sides of the pan. (Do not underbeat or cream puffs may deflate later!)
- Once mixture is thoroughly combined, scrape it into the bowl of a stand mixer. Turn the mixer on low speed. With mixer running, add eggs one a time, allowing each egg to incorporate and mixture to become smooth before adding the next.
- Transfer batter to a pastry bag and cut a hole in the end (about ⅓" across). Pipe mounds of choux pastry at least 2" apart, each about 2" across and ¾" tall (see notes). With those dimensions, you get about 24 cream puffs.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and turn the oven off. Bake 10 minutes with the oven off. Turn oven back on to 350° F and bake another 10 minutes. Then, turn the oven off again, leaving the cream puffs to finish baking for another 10 minutes (This is 30 minutes in the oven total). Resist the urge to open the oven until baking is complete, as this could deflate your cream puffs!
- Once the cream puffs are baked, remove from the oven and poke a hole in the top of each with a toothpick. This will allow any residual steam to escape (otherwise, your cream puffs could deflate…sensing a trend here?). Allow cream puffs to cool completely.
For Whipped Cream:
- Place cold heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla bean paste (see note) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start the mixer on low speed, and gradually increase the speed to high. Whip until the cream thickens and forms peaks.
- Scrape the chilled pastry cream into a piping bag fitted with a small, round piping tip (I used a no. 7). If you don't have a small piping tip, you can use a small paring knife or chopstick to help you poke the hole in the bottom. Repeat with the remaining cream puffs.
- Gently poke a hole in the bottom of a cream puff and fill with the pastry cream. You'll be able to feel the puff expand a little as you fill it.
- Try not to overfill, or it will leak out the hole in the bottom. I placed each filled cream puff onto a small piece of parchment (see note) so that I could move them without making a mess with any pastry cream that may leak out.
- Top each cream puff with vanilla bean whipped cream and a cherry, if desired.Enjoy!