Cream puffs are choux ("cabbage" in French) pastry filled with whipped cream, pastry cream, or ice cream and they supposedly originated in Renaissance France and Italy. I looked around for the difference between cream puff vs profiteroles but couldn't find a consensus.
But for how fancy these look, these aren't hard to do (I know I say that about all these recipes, but these really look gourmet...it's French after all)
When choux pastry is cooked, it rises and should have a hollow center (no wet, unbaked batter). My batter seemed a little thin but they still puffed up nicely. It was easy to use a knife to cut through the pasty. With the dusted powdered sugar, it looks magical. I was going to top with with chocolate ganache, but mine seized, alas, so it wasn't photography worthy (but chocolate makes everything tastes better of course)
Joy of Baking
Choux Pastry (Makes 9 huge or 12 normal sized cream puffs):
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar, or to taste
Choux Pastry: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
Place the butter and water in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat; add the flour mixture and stir until combined to form a dough. With a mixer, beat on low speed to release the steam from the dough (about a minute). Once the dough is lukewarm slowly start adding the lightly beaten eggs and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste (dough will fall from a spoon in a thick ribbon).
Spoon mounds of dough onto the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue to bake for a further 25 minutes or until the shells are golden brown and when split, are almost dry inside. Turn the oven off, poke a couple of holes in each puff with a toothpick and let the shells completely cool and dry out (important for preventing collapsing).
Whipped Cream: In a large mixing bowl combine the whipping cream, vanilla extract, and sugar and whip the cream until stiff peaks form.
Assembly: Split the pastry shells in half and fill/pipe with whipped cream. Place the top half of the pastry shell on the whipped cream and dust with powdered sugar.