Preheat the oven to 200°C. Combine the water, butter, and salt in a pan and heat.
When the butter has melted and the water has come to a boil, take the pan off the heat and add the flour. Mix rapidly with a wooden spatula.
Keep mixing until the dough comes cleanly off the pan, as shown here.
Keep mixing over low heat, until the dough becomes loose and shiny.
Take the pan off the heat. Beat 2 eggs and add to the pan in 4 batches, mixing well between additions until the egg is incorporated into the batter.
If the dough is too stiff, beat the remaining egg and add it a little at a time until the dough drops very slowly off the spatula when lifted.
Drop spoonfuls of the dough on a lined baking sheet, about 3 cm dome shapes. Dip the spoon in water each time.
Brush the remaining beaten eggs on the puffs with a pastry brush. Preheat the oven at 200°C for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 180 °C and bake until the jagged edges on the surface are golden brown.
Make the pastry cream to fill the puffs, Recipe ID: 692015. Cool the baked puffs.
Slice into each puff 1/3 from the top with a knife. Spoon in the pastry cream.
Make the icing. Add water to the powdered sugar drop by drop while mixing from the center, until it reaches a consistency that just slowly drops from a spoon when lifted. Color with the food coloring of your choice.
Spread the surface of each cream puff with icing and stick together in a tree shape. Optionally, add cookies as decorations.
Story Behind this Recipe
I wanted to make a Christmas cake that everyone could enjoy eating together.
How to make pastry cream - Recipe ID: 692015. How to make the cookies - Recipe ID: 477427. If the icing is too sweet for you, construct the puffs using whipped cream and a piping bag. Keep it in the refrigerator and eat it on the same day it's made, or the next day at the latest.