A plate of cream puffs
Alternative namesCream puff (US)
Place of originFrance
Main ingredientsChoux pastry
Filling: whipped cream, custard, or ice cream
Other informationWater based, milk based
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.


A German version
A Czech version with chocolate

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.


The French word profiterole 'small profit, gratification' has been used in cuisine since the 16th century.[6]

In the 17th century, profiteroles were small hollow bread rolls filled with a mixture of sweetbreads, truffles, artichoke bottoms, mushrooms, pieces of partridge, pheasant, or various poultry, accompanied by garnish. They could also be served in a soup.[7][8]

François Massialot in Le Cuisinier royal et bourgeois[9] (1698) gives several recipes for profiterole soup, with fillings of minced ham and poultry on a stew of mushrooms, asparagus, artichoke bottoms, rooster crests, sweetbreads, and truffles. The profiteroles are made of bread dough.

Joseph Menon in his Traité de cuisine[10] (1732) and François Marin in Les Dons de Comus[11] (1750) give other examples of savory recipes while keeping the same principle.

The profiteroles we know today, using choux pastry, were created in the 19th century.

Jules Gouffé in his Livre de cuisine[12] (1870) explains that a profiterole is a small choux pastry. Gustave Garlin in Le Cuisinier moderne[13] (1887) mentions profiteroles filled with cream and glazed with chocolate or coffee, worked to be smooth and shiny.

A widely-repeated legend claims that choux pastry, the key ingredient of profiteroles, was invented by the head chef to the court of Catherine de' Medici.[14] But this is a 19th-century invention.[15]

The pastry cook's art of choux pastry began to develop around the 17th century.[14] The patissier Jean Avice[16] developed the pastry further in the middle of the eighteenth century and created choux buns, with the dough becoming known as 'pâte à choux', since only choux buns were made from it. In the 19th century, Antoine Carême developed the recipe used today.[17]

United States

Cream puffs have appeared on U.S. restaurant menus since at least 1851.[18]

The Wisconsin State Fair is known for its giant cream puffs.[19][20]

In Hawaii, coco puffs (not to be confused with Cocoa Puffs) made by Liliha Bakery are a popular dessert. They are filled with chocolate creme patissiere and topped with a frosting known as "chantilly" (similar to German chocolate cake sans coconut and nuts).[21]

In popular culture

In the Japanese murder mystery sound novel series Higurashi When They Cry, the character Hanyū enjoys cream puffs, singing in one song that "I love, I love, I really love chou à la crème!".

In the Japanese manga series Mashle, main character Mash Burnedead has an obsession for cream puffs.

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

Profiteroles are served in the banquet scene in the 2017 film Victoria & Abdul, in which Queen Victoria is seen to be taking great pleasure in devouring her serving of them.[22]

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. ^ "PROFITEROLE : Etymologie de PROFITEROLE". Retrieved 2023-10-09.
  7. ^ siècle, Société française d'étude du XVIIIe (1995). Les liaisons savoureuses: réflexions et pratiques culinaires au XVIIIe siècle (in French). Université de Saint-Etienne. ISBN 978-2-86272-070-8.
  8. ^ Dictionnaire portatif de cuisine, d'office et de distillation (in French). 1770.
  9. ^ Massialot, François (1660?-1733) Auteur du texte (1705). Le cuisinier roïal et bourgeois ; qui apprend a ordonner toute sorte de repas en gras & en maigre, & la meilleure maniere des ragoûts les plus delicats & les plus à la mode. Ouvrage tres-utile dans les familles, &, singulierement necessaire à tous maîtres d'hôtels, & ecüiers de cuisine. Nouvelle edition, revûe, corrigée & beaucoup augmentée avec des figures.((cite book)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Menon, Joseph (1700?-1771) Auteur du texte (1739). Nouveau traité de la cuisine, avec de nouveaux desseins de tables et vingt-quatre menus. Tome 2 / ... Tome premier. [-second.].((cite book)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Marin, François (17-17 ; maître d'hôtel) Auteur du texte (1739). Les dons de Comus , ou Les délices de la table. Ouvrage non-seulement utile aux officiers de bouche pour ce qui concerne leur art, mais principalement à l'usage des personnes qui sont curieuses de sc̜avoir donner à manger, & d'être servies délicatement, tant en gras qu'en maigre, snivant [sic] les saisons, & dans le goût le plus nouveau.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Gouffé, Jules (1867). Le livre de cuisine: comprenant la cuisine de ménage et la grande cuisine (in French). Hachette.
  13. ^ Garlin, Gustave (1887). Le Cuisinier moderne, ou les Secrets de l'art culinaire: menus, haute cuisine, pâtisserie, glaces, office, etc., suivi d'un dictionnaire complet des termes techniques, par Gustave Garlin ... (in French). Garnier frères.
  14. ^ a b Montagné, Prosper; Lang, Jenifer Harvey (1988). Larousse gastronomique: the new American edition of the world's greatest culinary encyclopedia. New York: Crown Publishers. pp. 777–778. Choux pastry is said to have been invented in 1540 by Popelini, Catherine de' Medici's chef
  15. ^ Bienassis, Loïc; Campanini, Antonella (6 December 2022), 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, ISBN 978-2-86906-842-1, full text retrieved 5 October 2023
  16. ^ "Jean Avice". Gastronomiac (in French). Retrieved 2023-10-09.
  17. ^ Claude, Juillet (1998). Classic patisserie: an A-Z handbook. Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann.
  18. ^ "Revere House" restaurant, Boston, menu dated May 18, 1851: "Puddings and Pastry. ... Cream Puffs". Retrieved on 2011-06-15.
  19. ^ "Original Cream Puffs". Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  20. ^ "The Cream Puffs Of Wisconsin". Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  21. ^ Hitt, Christine (11 February 2022). "The secret recipe that has helped Hawaii institution Liliha Bakery stay open for 71 years". SFGate.
  22. ^ "Victoria and Abdul".