Cream Puff Swans

Pretty, golden puff pastry swans filled with rich, creamy pastry cream frolicking in a drizzle of hot fudge. 

Kat of  The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!

Chocolate eclairs are one of my favorite desserts, so when pâte à choux swans were chosen as this month’s Daring Bakers challenge I was thrilled. I’ve never done pâte à choux in any shape but round or oblong before, so this was a much needed chance to work on my piping skills.

I made my swans bigger than the Daring Bakers hostess, 12 instead of 36. I wasn’t great at piping little beaks, but overall I was really please with my first attempt at swans.

If you haven’t made choux pastry before, give it a try. It isn’t difficult and homemade tastes better than from a bakery because the pastry shells lose their crisp exterior the longer they sit.

You can fill the shells with your favorite filling, sweet or savory. Instead of the challenge recipes, I used my favorite choux pastry and my favorite pastry cream recipes.

Cream Puff Swans

Yield: 12 Pastries

Cream Puff Swans


    Choux Pastry:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • Pastry Cream:
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream



Preheat the oven to 425º. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan, bring butter, water, salt and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove pan from the heat and add the flour all at once. Stir quickly until all the flour is incorporated, about a minute. Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, for another minute or two.

Transfer the dough to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium speed for 1 minute to cool the dough down a little.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; beat until the dough loses its “slimy” look, and each egg is incorporated. (You may only need 3 eggs, depending on your climate.) The dough should be thick, but should fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when you lift them out of the bowl.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" tip, pipe out 12 swan heads. (You’re aiming for something between a numeral 2 and a question mark, with a little beak if you’re skilled and/or lucky.)

Remove the tip from the bag and pipe out 12 swan bodies. These will be about 3” long, and about 2” wide. One end should be a bit narrower than the other.

Use your fingers to smooth out any bumps of points of dough that remain on the surface. Bake 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375º and bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 25 minutes more. Try not to open the oven door too often during the baking.

Let cool on the baking sheet.

Pastry Cream:

In a medium saucepan combine the sugar, flour and salt. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil. Cook for 2 minutes until thickened.

Remove from stove. Slowly whisk 1/4 cup of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks, and immediately add egg yolk mixture to the hot mixture in the saucepan. Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Transfer pudding mixture to a medium bowl. Cover with plastic; refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour or overnight.

When pudding is chilled, whip cream to form soft peaks and gently fold in to pudding. Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.

Assemble Swans:

Take a swan body and use a very sharp knife to cut off the top 1/3rd to 1/2. Cut the removed top down the center to make two wings.

Dollop or pipe pastry cream into the body, insert head, and then add wings. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Visit the Daring Kitchen to see all the beautiful pâte à choux swans and other critters the Daring Bakers baked up this month.

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    Leave a Comment:

  1. Roberta Harrison says

    Wonderful recipe!! Thank you sooo much, first time I made these, they turned out lovely, looking
    forward to trying more of your great looking recipes. Really like how simple and easy you make
    it all to follow! Thanks again, Roberta

  2. Vilma says

    Thank you very much for an amazing recipe. I have done before this kind of pastry, but this recipe is the best. Next time I’ll have my friends over for dinner, for sure it will be on my menu. I tried and felt in love!

  3. Elizabeth says

    How cute!

    I’ve always wondered how the swan shape was achieved. Thank you for showing it so well.

    I never thought about the fact that the filling could be sweet or savoury. Suddenly I have an urge for swans filled with creamy cashew chicken.

  4. says

    I’ve seen a few other bloggers making these puff swans before, but never so beautifully! Wow…I’m so impressed. They’re so delicate and airy and just perfectly formed. And I love the cream filling and drizzle of chocolate… I’m featuring this post in today’s Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution as always). Thank you so much for keeping me inspired with such delicious creations…

    • says

      What a sweet comment! Thank you! I think it helps that we have such a dry climate, so I rarely have to fight humidity. Thanks for featuring my post.

  5. Betsy Diamond says

    These swans brought back great memories. I made them for a party for my daughter 25 years ago…wow, has it been that long ago!

  6. Dan Aronson says

    For anyone living in or near NYC, you can see and buy them on Brooklyn at fortunato’s (289 manhattan ave).

  7. says

    Just wow! The swans are almost, almost to lovely to devour! My Mother’s favorite dessert was cream puffs. She filled them with vanilla ice cream and topped them with Hershey’s chocolate syrup. But the cream puffs were always freshly cooled, made in the afternoon for that nights dessert. What an exceptional post!

  8. Jane Mc'Neil says

    I am drooling for the cream puff swans right now. They look amazing and so yummy. I will give a shot at making them using the recipe you have provided.

  9. says

    I too had about 13 instead of the larger number. I guess we would have needed to pipe incredibly small swans. Regardless your swans look fantastic! Great job.

  10. says

    Absolutely gorgeous. If I decide to make a Trumpet of the Swan cake next year for our school’s annual Edible Books Festival, these will be the first-order decorations. Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. says

    Wow! I used to go to tea on vacation at the Williamsburg Inn and they served the swans with the cream..I LOVED them..This past year they didn’t serve them and I was soooo disappointed. I will give them a shot. I have made cream puffs using my late hubby’s recipe..Never tried making shapes… Love yours.. I will try your cream too..I normally just use whipped cream in the puffs…..

  12. says

    These are gorgeous! I have always wanted to try these but they seem so complicated so they keep getting moved further down the list. Yours are perfection.

  13. says

    These look fantastic. I want to say they look so cute but that probably isn’t the right description. I’ve never made cream puffs but I’ll give your recipe a try.