• Custard-filled cream puff (bigne alla crema) (Jono Fleming)Source: Jono Fleming

These delicate golden choux pastry puffs are filled with luxurious vanilla custard and dipped in dark chocolate. A classic find in Italian pastry shops, you can recreate them at home as a little treat with coffee or light dessert for entertaining. 






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)


  • 125 ml (½ cup) milk
  • 75 g unsalted butter
  • 150 g (1 cup) plain or strong (00) flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 g dark chocolate, melted


  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 2 strips lemon zest
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthways, seeds scraped
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • ⅓ cup sugar 


Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


  1. Preheat a fan-forced oven to 220˚C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Place the milk, butter and 125ml (½ cup) water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the butter has melted and the mixture comes to a simmer. Sift in the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon for 2–3 minutes or until it comes together in a smooth mass and comes away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer the warm pastry to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. On medium speed, add one egg at a time and keep whisking until the pastry is elastic and smooth.
  4. Place the pastry in a piping bag fitted with a wide plain nozzle. Pipe rounds onto the lined trays about the size of a large walnut (or bigger if you prefer), leaving space between each for spreading. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 185˚C and bake for another 25–30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven, then pierce the base of each puff with a small knife to release the steam and set aside to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, for the custard, place the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to just simmering. Remove from the heat, add the lemon zest, vanilla seeds and bean and set aside to cool for 20 minutes. Remove and discard the zest and vanilla bean (or wash and pat dry to make vanilla sugar).
  6. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and cornflour until pale and fluffy. Whisking continuously, gradually add the hot milk mixture until well combined. Pour the custard back into the pan and stir over low heat for 2–3 minutes or until thick and smooth. Pour into a bowl, cover closely with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming, then set aside to cool.
  7. Just before serving, beat the cooled custard until smooth, then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a wide nozzle. Pipe the custard into the cooled puffs. Dip the top of the puffs in the melted chocolate and serve immediately.


Silvia Colloca shares her Italian family secrets in the brand-new third season of Cook like an Italian.