One dozen cream puffs soon to be disturbed from their quiet resting place. We tried three different kinds of shell (original, cookie crunch, and éclair) with four different flavors of filling (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and Callebaut white chocolate).
1. Original Filling with Original Shell
Beard Papa knows what he's doing. His original shell is not your usual cream puff pastry, but a proprietary pâte à choux enrobed in a special pie crust-inspired jacket. This makes for one beautifully tender but crusty encasing for a classic airy vanilla bean filling.
2. Strawberry Filling with Éclair Shell
If you want a cream puff with a few bells and whistles, the éclair shell is the way to go. It's just the original puff dipped in dark chocolate, but when combined with the strawberry filling, it becomes a fresh take on the chocolate-dipped strawberry, complete with that satisfying bite through a chocolate shell.
3. Original Filling with Éclair Shell
There's a reason the éclair shell shows up twice in the top three puffs; the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate coating balances out the sweetness of the fillings and provides yet another layer of texture.
4. Chocolate Filling with Cookie Crunch Shell
We expected a little more crunch with the cookie crunch shell. As one taster pointed out, the "cookie" pieces taste like fortune cookies but lack the distinctive crunch. But there's ultimately nothing wrong with it. In fact, it adds just a little something extra to the classic chocolate filling.
5. Chocolate Filling with Original Shell
The chocolate filling does well with the original shell, since it's allowed to be the star.
6. Strawberry Filling with Original Shell
You can both see and taste the real strawberries in the strawberry filling, and when its combined with the original shell, it's the star of the show.
7. Callebaut White Chocolate Filling with Éclair Shell
Callebaut white chocolate was the flavor of the day when we visited, but like most white chocolate, it was just a little too sweet on its own. When combined with the dark chocolate of the éclair shell, however, the sweetness was toned down and became much more enjoyable.
8. Chocolate Filling with Éclair Shell
While this combination wasn't bad, some of us thought that the darker chocolate of the shell overpowered the filling, while others enjoyed the hit of double chocolate.
9. Original Filling with Cookie Crunch Shell
This combo was inoffensive, but wasn't a standout.
10. Strawberry Filling with Cookie Crunch Shell
The texture of the real strawberries in the filling ends up clashing with the crumbly bits on top of the cookie crunch shell.
11. Callebaut White Chocolate Filling with Original Shell
This filling was just way too sweet and unfortunately couldn't be saved by the big name chocolate producer.
12. Callebaut White Chocolate Filling with Cookie Crunch Shell
The added sweetness from the cookie crunch shell is the last thing this filling needs.
Here is what was left after we destroyed 12 of the cream puffs.