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How do I get the filling inside a pâte à choux (cream puff)? Do I have to cut a hole in the baked pastry form?

Also, is there a way to get the filling inside without a pastry bag? Using a pastry bag is always really messy!

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

They are a little hard to find, but if you can find a "Bismarck" pastry tip, they have an elongated tip that is perfect for poking into your cream puff to fill. And, on a side note, a couple ways to keep your pastry tube from getting so messy... Put it inside a drinking glass and fold it down over the sides to fill it. This holds it open and you're less likely to spill all over the edges. Then, once you gather the open end, use a rubber band to tightly hold it closed. This reduces the mess dramatically.

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You can either use a piping bag with a metal nozzle to push through the base of the puff and inject it with filling, or you can cut them in half and fill with a spoon.

The first way is trickier but obviously gives a neater finished product, whereas the second way is easier but not as 'perfect'. You can also sit on the fence, cut the puff in half, then use a star nozzle to pipe nice neat whorls of filling onto one half.

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