Craving cream puffs but not all the work that goes into making them? This Cream Puff Cake is the answer! It tastes like a ginormous cream puff and comes together surprisingly easily and is a total crowd-pleaser!
Things have totally changed so much since last year. I know that’s painfully obvious and I don’t have to really say that, but even little dumb things like me saying this dessert is a total “crowd-pleaser.” In 2019 it would be a total crowd-pleaser! In 2021? Maybe a crowd of 6 or less, all standing 6 feet apart!
Parties. I definitely miss them! I throw one every year at Christmastime with my friends and close neighbors and look forward to it all year. And even though in the grand scheme of things it is so trivial, man, it was so hard to cancel it last year! I just wanted some sense of normalcy back after my hellish 2020. So I’m praying the world can get back on track in 2021 so hopefully I can throw one this year… maybe put this cake to the “crowd-pleasing” test, even if my “crowd” is only 6 people!
But let’s talk about this cake! I am a HUGE cream puff fan and have been since I was a kid. Whenever I’d go grocery shopping with my mom and we’d go by the bakery, I’d beg her for a cream puff. Sometimes she’d say no, but on the times she’d say yes I would relish each mouthwatering bite of that flaky pastry and fluffy whipped cream. They are so nostalgic for me!
While my Super Simple Cream Puffs are very easy to make, this cake is the real winner when it comes to ease of preparation. Typically, regular cream puffs require you piping the pate a choux pastry into circles onto parchment paper, baking them, and then cutting them in half with a serrated knife to fill. Not here! You’ll simply make the same pastry and press it into a greased pan and bake. Easy as that!
The Pastry Crust
A typical cream puff pastry is called “pate a choux” and is made with flour, water, butter, salt, and eggs. I also added a Tablespoon of sugar to mine for a little sweetness. It’s very humble but makes for an amazing pastry that is the basis of many desserts, including churros! You cook the water, butter, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil, then stir in the flour and cook until it forms a ball in the pan. Add the ball of dough to a mixer and beat in the eggs, one at a time until combined. Then you’ll press the dough into a greased light metal baking pan and bake until golden and puffy. The pastry crust will puff up tremendously, especially along the sides. This is normal!
This is a classic, old-fashioned recipe made with Jell-O pudding mix, so the filling consists of some vanilla instant pudding mixed with cream cheese for a delicious semi-homemade, ultra creamy and totally nostalgic taste. It truly hits home and tastes so perfect!
Don’t Forget the Whipped Cream!
I like mine topped with fresh sweetened whipped cream, but Cool Whip would be the most nostalgic. Use whatever you’d like!
Super easy, ultra delicious, retro Cream Puff Cake! The best!
Cream Puff Cake
This Cream Puff Cake is seriously amazing and a total crowd-pleaser! So much easier to make than individual cream puffs, this sheet-pan cream puff consists of a flaky, buttery pastry crust and a super creamy filling for a retro hit of nostalgia!
Servings: 12 servings
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbsp granulated white sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup flour
- 4 large eggs
- 8 oz (1 package) cream cheese, softened
- Two (3.4 oz EACH) pkgs instant vanilla pudding mix
- 2½ cups milk
- 1½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- Chocolate sauce and strawberries, for garnish optional
Preheat oven to 400° degrees F. Grease a 13×9 light metal baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, add the butter, water, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon for 2-3 minutes or until a ball of dough comes together. Remove from the heat and place the ball of dough into a large bowl.
Using a handheld electric mixer, add an egg to the bowl with the ball of dough and beat the egg into the dough ball one at a time, mixing well after each addition, until a soft batter comes together. Press the batter evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan (you may need to grease your fingers). Bake for 30 minutes or until light golden brown. Crust will bubble and rise significantly; this is normal. Do not puncture or deflate. Allow to cool completely.
For the filling: In a large bowl, add both packages of pudding mix and the milk and whisk until combined and thickened. Set aside. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer or stand mixer, cream the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy, about 30 seconds. Add the pudding to the cream cheese and mix to incorporate until fully combined and no streaks of cream cheese remain.
Spread the filling evenly over the pastry crust leaving a border edge of crust. Top with whipped cream or Cool Whip. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set before cutting into squares. (For the whipped cream: add the heavy whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar to a stand mixer bowl and beat on high speed with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes).
Remember, you’re using two (2) 3.4 oz packages of instant vanilla pudding mix and only 2 & 1/2 cups of milk total. Do NOT prepare the pudding according to package directions.
You’re going to love this silky smooth and super sweet cake!
Have a super sweet day!