Puff daddy My husband and I have a philosophical difference about cream puffs. He insists that they should be filled with whipped cream; I am just as adamant that they be filled with pastry cream. Since I'm the one who makes them, I win, at least when it comes to the ones we eat at home; if he wants the whipped cream variety, he has to buy them.
In a way, we're both right - I find pure pastry cream too heavy and sticky for cream puffs, so I lighten it by folding in some whipped cream. I could argue that I'm compromising for his sake, but he probably wouldn't see it that way, because when it comes to cream puffs, even a little pastry cream is too much for him.
Cream puffs are made with pâte à choux- the versatile "cabbage pastry" (so called because the puffs are said to resemble the vegetable) that's also used for eclairs (when piped into oblongs), chouquettes (unfilled, but sprinkled with coarse sugar), and churros and beignets souffles (when fried rather than baked). If the choux dough is seasoned with finely grated cheese before being baked, it turns into gougeres.
Because pâte à choux is quite neutral in taste, you can get creative with the filling, making savoury cream puffs by filling them with foie gras parfait or smoked salmon mixed into beaten cream cheese, while sweet ones are good with salted caramel cream or chocolate mousse. Cream puffs are also an integral part of classic French desserts, such as profiteroles (where they're filled with ice cream then smothered in chocolate sauce), gateau St Honoré and croquembouche.