This is more than just your usual cream puff swan. Sure, this is a recipe for choux pastry. But it’s also filled with a delicious orange-zested Chantilly cream. And a little something more…can you guess what it is? That’s right bestie. Chocolate. The ganache kind. (If you’re already thinking that these Choux swans are going to knock your socks off, you’re right.)
Valentine’s Day is coming up bestie! I know, I know…it’s a big ol’ commercial hoax designed to guilt couples into spending money on greetings cards they don’t need in order to express love they already share yada yada yada…I totally get it. It’s cliché. And it’s unnecessary. But here’s the thing…it can be nice. And it’s just another day to make your loved one feel special. And that’s always a good thing.
That said, it IS super commercialised, and CRAZY expensive. Like, cwhay-zhee expensive. And that can deter people from doing that something special. But don’t you worry bestie. I got you.
This recipe for Cream Puff Swans (or really any shape you feel like making) is here to solve all your Valentine’s Day problems. Want to get your loved one something personal? Check. Want it to be pretty? Check. Want it to be French? Check. Want to be able to eat it? Double-check!
Want to give it a French name? Call it Pierre.
(And you know what else? It’s kinda really easy. And it doesn’t even need many ingredients.)
Also, here’s the script I want you to use when you serve these cream puff swans to your valentine:
“These beautiful choux pastries (make sure to say choux pastry, it sounds fancier!) are filled with a decadent chocolate ganache, a sweet Chantilly cream, delicately flavoured with orange zest, and topped with icing sugar…now, what did you get me?”
What are Cream Puff Swans
Cream Puff Swans are essentially little pastries (specifically, choux pastry/pate a choux) piped to look like swans. They’re typically filled with whipped cream, though this recipe uses an orange-zested cream filling as well as a chocolate ganache (this is essentially a slightly thickened chocolate sauce) layer for a little decadence.
What is Choux pastry / Pâte à choux?
Pâte à choux is a light French pastry made using butter, water, sugar, flour, and eggs. It is used to make a lot of popular French desserts such as eclairs, profiteroles, cream puffs, and chouquettes.
For the Cream Puffs/Choux Pastry
- Butter, unsalted
- All-Purpose Flour
- Icing Sugar (but just for dusting)
For Chantilly Cream
- Whipping Cream
- Icing Sugar
- Pure Vanilla Extract
- Orange Zest
For Chocolate Ganache
- Dark Chocolate
- Whipping Cream
How to make Cream Puff Swans
We’re going to break this down into 3.5 parts, bestie. Why three and a half, you ask? Because I’m awkward. And it’ll make a lot more sense when you see it. We’ll start with making the choux pastry/cream puffs, followed by making the whipped cream filling, then the chocolate ganache, and finally putting it all together by assembling choux swans (which is part of making the choux pastry).
Making Choux Pastry
Making choux pastry isn’t as hard as you might think. It’s often treated as a beginner pastry in Europe (similar to how brownies are often the first thing one might have made in North America). There are a couple of extra steps, and the pastry is slightly more sensitive to mistakes, but this is a very do-able recipe for people early in their baking journey.
You’ll begin by creating a panade by mixing butter, water, salt and flour over heat. Once the panade is dry enough, it will form a smooth consistency, and coat the pan with a film-like look.
Move the panade to a cool bowl, and mix in your eggs – one by one (this is important!). Beat the eggs until a smooth, pipe-able batter is formed. The challenge here is to know how many eggs is correct – this recipe uses 4 eggs but depending on factors like the humidity of your kitchen and the size of your eggs, you may find you just need three!
Finally, pipe and bake your choux pastry!
How to pipe pate a choux swans
There are two components to this: the neck/head and the body/wings. You will need to pipe each separately. The neck and head of the swan are made by piping a thin, elongated ‘S’-shape. It’s recommended you use a slimmer piping nozzle for this.
For the swan bodies/wings, you’re going to pipe a fatter, straight loaf-shape – taller on one end. It’s recommended you use a wider piping nozzle for this step. And once baked, to create the swan wings, you’ll be cutting off the top of the loaf, and cutting that piece into two to create wings.
It sounds more difficult than it is! Look at the photos, and check out the recipe video to see exactly how to do it.
Making Orange-Zested Chantilly Cream
This bit is super easy. It’s exactly the same as making any Chantilly cream (that is, sweetened whipped cream), but you’re adding a touch of orange zest into the mix. Use a handheld mixer to make your life easier, or opt to mix by hand to get your cardio in for the day.
The whipped cream is piped (or spooned!) into the hollowed out cream puff bodies.
Making Chocolate Ganache
Another easy component – All you need to do is bring the cream to a boil, melt the chocolate in it, and mix in the honey until everything is smooth and incorporated. Toss the mixture into the fridge to cool (just keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t become super firm), or set it aside.
The chocolate ganache is piped (or spooned!) into the cream puff swan bodies (before the whipped cream is piped in).
- Make a few extra swan necks/heads in case a few break or burn! These are pretty thin bits of pastry so it’s easy to burn them in the oven. As a rule, they will bake quicker than any other components on your baking sheet.
- Use a sharp tip (such as a toothpick or thin knife) to create little heads on the swan necks. All you need to do is dip into the top of the neck and swiftly flick to the side.
- Use a serrated knife to cut the baked swan bodies.
- Attach a star tip to your pastry bag when piping the swan bodies. It adds a little extra texture. However, if you don’t have one available, a standard round tip will be great.
- Allowing the cream puffs to cool in the oven (with the door slightly ajar) helps the pastry to dry out. Some people will suggest also poking small holes at the bottom of your cream puff creation, and this is generally a good practice, though I rarely do it for this recipe.
- When it comes to piping the whipped cream or chocolate ganache, you can save a little time by spooning each component in. It’s ever-so-slightly less pretty, but certainly a viable option!
- Refrigerate the finished product before serving. This isn’t required, but it helps the cream and chocolate set the swans you’ve created.
How to store Choux Swans
These beautiful little Choux pastry swans will keep for 3-4 days, refrigerated in an airtight container. Though I recommend eating them on the same day…because they’re delicious, and you deserve to eat them all!
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Cream Puff Swans, Updated
This post is an update of my “Cream Puff Swans (Choux Pastry)” post, originally published February 9th, 2017. I’ve re-written the majority of the post to give clearer more detailed instructions, added new photos, as well as a handy-dandy Choux swan recipe video to make the process as clear as possible!
More dessert recipes
- Lemon Curd Cake with White Chocolate Swiss Buttercream
- Raspberry Eton mess
- Lemon & Poppy Seed Mini Madeleines
And that’s it, bestie! That’s pretty much everything you need to know to make Cream Puff Swans at home. Have you ever worked with choux pastry? What do you think? Easy or complicated? Let me know in the comments below.
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Cream Puff Swans
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: Approx. 20 Swans
These beautiful cream puff swans (choux pastries) are filled with a decadent chocolate ganache, orange-zested Chantilly cream, and topped with icing sugar.
For the Cream Puffs
- 8 tbsp Butter, unsalted
- 1 cup Water, cold
- ¾ tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 4 Large Eggs
- 1 Egg Yolk (mixed with 1 tbsp Water), for egg wash
- Icing Sugar, for dusting
For Chantilly Cream
- 1 cup Whipping Cream
- 1 tbsp Icing Sugar
- 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- 4 tbsp Orange Zest (about one large orange)
For Chocolate Ganache
- 3oz Dark Chocolate
- ¼ cup Whipping Cream, boiling
- 1 tbsp Honey
For the Cream Puffs:
- Set oven to 425 degrees F.
- Mix butter, water, salt, and sugar in a pan over heat, and bring to a boil.
- Add flour, remove from heat and mix until the flour is incorporated (you’re looking for a texture similar to mashed potatoes).
- Return to a medium heat and mix until the ‘dough (“panade”) is dry – the dough will be quite smooth, pull off the side of the pan, and start coating the pan with a sort of film.
- Switch the panade into a cold bowl, mix thoroughly to cool, and thoroughly beat in eggs one at a time until the batter is blended, smooth and pipe-able. Depending on how dry your panade was in the previous step (and possibly the humidity of your kitchen!), the fourth egg may not be required.
- Pipe your desired shape on to parchment, and brush lightly with the egg wash.
- Note: If you’d like the swan shape, you’ll need to pipe bodies and necks/heads on to separate trays as necks require half the baking time. Cut the top off the bodies and slice the cut portion in half to use as wings. Pipe in the ganache, and then the whipped cream on top.
- If you’re uncomfortable with the shapes needed to make swans, simply pipe out small, fat circles (once they’re baked, you can fill them by cutting off the top and sandwiching the fillings, or by piping the fillings in using a piping nozzle).
- Bake for approximately 20-minutes without opening the oven door, or until the tops have firmed. Turn off the heat, leave the oven door slightly ajar, and let the pastry cool in the oven for a further 10 minutes before removing.
- Fill with chocolate ganache, and Chantilly cream. And dust with icing sugar. Ideally, refrigerate the cream puffs for an hour before serving.
For the Chantilly Cream:
- Whip the cream, icing sugar, and vanilla extract until the desired consistency is reached. (I personally like something just more than a soft peak, but not completely stiff.) Fold in orange zest.
For the Chocolate Ganache:
- Melt the chocolate in the boiling cream, and mix in the honey until all ingredients are completely incorporated and put in the fridge to cool.
Check the post above for more details and photos on how to pipe the cream puff swans!
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Desserts
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: French
Keywords: Choux Swans, Choux Pastry, Cream Puff Swans, How to make Choux Swans, How to make Cream Puff Swans, Choux Pastry recipe
These are so yummy looking AND adorable! I think they’re above my skill set…but if you ever need a taste tester I’m your girl!
Thanks Bri! These really aren’t above your skill set, they’re a lot easier than they look 🙂
Also, I always need a taste tester!
These are just beautiful!
Thank you! You should make it! 🙂
Kevin | economicalchef.com
Cool Recipe! My Wife loves to bake so I am sure she will love this one.
Thanks Kevin! I hope you and your wife enjoy baking them!
I love these!
Thanks! I do too!
These swans look too pretty to eat and I bet they are delicious too! What a piece of art rather than food! 🙂
Thanks Daphne! But they’re definitely worth eating too 😉
They are, they are! Thank you for commenting Daphne!
wow, these look amazing!! how in the world did you make the neck and head? I have made choux pastry,and just for fun tried to make swans. They didn’t look recognizably like swans. What is your secret?
Thanks so much! The very first time I tried to make a choux swan, it looked like a Loch Ness monster (I called her Nessie, and then I ate her :P). I make the head and neck as one piece – I pipe out a shallow ‘S’-shape, and then to differentiate the head, I pipe a little more around the head. There are actually a lot of great videos on YouTube that show it a lot better than I can explain it on my blog (I learnt the technique watching a video of Jacques Pepin making the swans – he’s one of my favourites!). 🙂
Hope that helped! And please do share some photos of your choux creations with me, I’d love to see them!
thanks Riz – wish I could have seen old Nessie!!! I wish I had at least some creativity, but sadly I seem to operate exclusively off the left side of my brain. Nevertheless I am determined to master the choux swan!! why didn’t I think of you tube!!! I just watched a video on how to prepare beef kidney for cooking – creative I am not, but I am adventurous at least!!!
Ask, and you shall receive. 🙂 Here’s a picture of good ol’ Nessie, just for you! Being adventurous is the basis of being creative!
hahahaha!!! I just viewed Nessie!! gave me a great laugh to start my day! thanks for sharing. You have come a long way from poor Nessie to the beautiful swans in this post.
Hahaa! Thank you! It’s amazing how much you improve just by trying something a second time 🙂
These are so cute! Just adorable
Super Mom - No Cape!
Those look amazing! They would be perfect for a dinner party where you really wanted to impress your guests!
Thank you for commenting! I agree, they’re perfect for dinner parties!
It’s never a bad thing to revive an old post, right? 🤤🙈 Valentines day will be here before we know it!!
But Riz, one pointer from me and a request for another.
In the beginning of the instructions, you write that the oven heat should be 425 degrees “C”. I don’t think there exists an oven that goes to 425 Celsius, I’m quite sure you meant to write “F”.
My question; you say cooking time is 20 minutes, then turn off the oven, open door and let cool in the oven. What if I have multible oven racks/baking pans? Can the heat or cooking time be adjusted, for example if I’ve got 3 or 4 racks?
Thank you so much Riz, I can’t wait to try this (and sooo many other) recipes 🤤
THANK YOU for pointing that out that typo! I’ve amended the post so that it shows F instead of C 🙂
As for the cooking time – for 3 or 4 racks, you will likely need to bake for a little bit longer (but these are pretty delicate little things so not much, maybe just 2-5 minutes). Hope that helps!
I’ve been trying to find the time (AND COURAGE!) to make this recipe for YEARS (YEARS, I TELL YOU!). And I finally did it! And guess what? It turned out SO GOOD! I skipped the chocolate ganahe but my swans turned out beautiful! Thank you!
Great job, Samantha! I’m so happy to hear it turned out well for you!