Cream puff in Graduation dinner.jpg
A plate of cream puffs
Alternative namesCream puff (US)
Place of originEurope
Region or stateFrance
Main ingredientsChoux pastry
Filling: Whipped cream, custard, or ice cream
Other informationWater based, milk based
Chou with chocolate ganache
Chou with chocolate ganache

A profiterole (French: [pʁɔfitʁɔl]), cream puff (US), or chou à la crème (French: [ʃu a la kʁɛm]) is a filled French choux pastry ball with a typically sweet and moist filling of whipped cream, custard, pastry cream, or ice cream. The puffs may be decorated or left plain or garnished with chocolate sauce, caramel, or a dusting of powdered sugar. Savory profiterole are also made, filled with pureed meats, cheese, and so on. These were formerly common garnishes for soups.[1]

The various names may be associated with particular variants of filling or sauce in different places.[2][3][4][5]


Choux pastry dough is piped through a pastry bag or dropped with a pair of spoons into small balls and baked to form largely hollow puffs. After cooling, the baked profiteroles are injected with filling using a pastry bag and narrow piping tip, or by slicing off the top, filling them, and reassembling. For sweet profiteroles, additional glazes or decorations may then be added.


German cream puff
German cream puff
Czech version
Czech version

The most common presentations are pastry cream, whipped cream, or ice cream filling, topped with powdered sugar or chocolate ganache and possibly more whipped cream. They are also served plain, with a crisp caramel glaze, iced, or with fruit.

Filled and glazed with caramel, they are assembled into a type of pièce montée called croquembouches, often served at weddings in France and Italy, during the Christmas holiday in France, and are served during important celebrations in Gibraltar. Profiteroles are also used as the outer wall of St. Honoré Cake.


A name that frequently emerges is that of Popelini, whose first name is unknown. A considerable number of websites refer to him as the supposed inventor of choux pastry around 1540. In 2011, a Parisian pastry shop specializing in cream puffs was named after him. Popelini seems to have first appeared in the early 1890s, in a book of Pierre Lacam.[6] Those who have read the writings of Lacam can easily conclude that he invented this "Chef Pasterelli [who] was named Popelini," chef of Catherine de' Medici, who "brought with him the recipe for a dough that was dried over the fire, which he made into an excellent dish that he named after himself at court; it was later called Popelin, instead of Popelini." Furthermore, investigation of records listing service personnel who worked with Catherine since her arrival in France until her death revealed the absence of any Italian chefs.[7] Rather than imagining Popelini shaping choux pastry, it is assumed that Lacam mainly created Popelini from choux pastry, and Pasterelli from the pastry.[8]

A patissier by the name of Jean Avice wrote the first recipe of the pastry in the middle of the eighteenth century and created choux buns.[9] It was in the nineteenth century that Antoine Carême perfected the recipe, the same recipe for choux pastry as is used today.[10]


Cream puffs have appeared on U.S. restaurant menus since at least 1851.[11]

The Wisconsin State Fair is known for its giant cream puffs.[12][13]

In popular culture

Profiteroles are served in the banquet scene in the 2017 film Victoria and Abdul in which Queen Victoria is seen to be taking great pleasure in devouring her serving of them.[14]

Cream puffs are heavily implied to be the favourite treat of Hanyū in the Japanese murder mystery sound novel series Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Cream puffs are often mentioned and used as a payment method or a sign of gratefulness towards her, throwing cream puffs away as a threat. In Hanyū's character song 'Nano Desu~' she also clearly states "I love, I love, I really love Chou à la crème!".

In the 1989 film The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, profiteroles are a favorite treat of the titular wife, Georgina Spica.

See also


  1. ^ Prosper Montagné, Larousse Gastronomique, 1st edition, 1938, s.v.
  2. ^ Carole Bloom (2 March 2007). The Essential Baker: The Comprehensive Guide to Baking with Chocolate, Fruit, Nuts, Spices, and Other Ingredients. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 433–. ISBN 978-0-7645-7645-4. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  3. ^ Michael Ruhlman (7 April 2009). Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. Simon and Schuster. pp. 46–. ISBN 978-1-4165-6611-3. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  4. ^ Good Housekeeping Magazine; Good Housekeeping (28 December 2001). The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook: America's Bestselling Step-by-Step Cookbook, with More Than 1,400 Recipes. Hearst Books. pp. 512–. ISBN 978-1-58816-070-6. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  5. ^ Glenn Rinsky; Laura Halpin Rinsky (14 February 2008). The Pastry Chef's Companion: A Comprehensive Resource Guide for the Baking and Pastry Professional. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 228–. ISBN 978-0-470-00955-0. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  6. ^ Lacam, Pierre (1836-1902) Auteur du texte; Charabot, Antoine Auteur du texte (1893). Le glacier classique et artistique en France et en Italie / par Pierre Lacam,... Antoine Charabot,...
  7. ^ La Table De La Renaissance : Le Mythe Italien de - Livre (in French).
  8. ^ Bienassis, Loïc; Campanini, Antonella (2022-12-06), Brioist, Pascal; Quellier, Florent (eds.), "La reine à la fourchette et autres histoires. Ce que la table française emprunta à l'Italie : analyse critique d'un mythe", La table de la Renaissance : Le mythe italien, Tables des hommes (in French), Tours: Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, pp. 29–88, retrieved 2023-05-12
  9. ^ Ducasse, Alain; Robert, Frédéric (April 2009). Grand livre de cuisine d'Alain Ducasse: Desserts et pâtisserie (in French). Ed. A. Ducasse. ISBN 978-2-84844-051-4.
  10. ^ Claude, Juillet (1998). Classic patisserie: an A-Z handbook. Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann.
  11. ^ "Revere House" restaurant, Boston, menu dated May 18, 1851: "Puddings and Pastry. ... Cream Puffs". Retrieved on 2011-06-15.
  12. ^ "Original Cream Puffs". Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  13. ^ "The Cream Puffs Of Wisconsin". Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  14. ^ "Victoria and Abdul".