This easy cream horns (lady locks) recipe will quickly become a new favorite!
In this delicious cream horns recipe, store-bought puff pastry dough strips are gently wrapped and baked to golden brown perfection, then filled with a sweet buttercream filling.
The gorgeous pastry horns are then topped with a light dusting of powdered sugar.
These delicious and elegant little sweet treats are a perfect dessert for holidays, weddings, baby showers or other occasions. When I was little, I always requested these for my birthday treat!
Are these Cream Horns, Lady Locks or Clothespin Cookies?
All three names are correct!
Growing up in Wisconsin, we always called these treats cream horns. It wasn’t until I started researching this cream horns recipe that I learned these cream-filled pastries go by other names too.
According to this article, in New England (especially the Pittsburgh area), the cream horn is called a Lady Lock and is a common showpiece on cookie tables at weddings.
You may also find these small pastries with cream filling referred to as clothespin cookies. They got their name from the method originally used to create the pastry cones.
Bakers would wrap a wooden clothespin with aluminum foil to create the mold. They would then wrap strips of the pastry dough around it. This method is still used today and we explain more in the article below.
Ingredients and Tools To Make Puff Pastry Cream Horn Shells
You will only need one ingredient and one tool to make the puff pastry shell for your cream horns. You’ll need:
- 1 Package Store-Bought Puff Pastry Dough Sheets
- The frozen puff pastry dough is typically found in the frozen section at the grocery store.
- Set of Cream Horn Molds (or sometimes spelled like “moulds”.)
- You can buy these or make your own molds.
Option 1: Buy Cream Horn Molds
The easiest way to get the metal forms you need to make cream horns is to purchase them from Amazon.
If you do a search for “cream horn mold“, you’ll get an assortment of results for products called cream horn forms and tubes, cannoli forms and tubes, and lady lock forms and tubes. Any of these products will work.
You’ll also notice a choice in shapes: either a tube or a cone.
With the tube-shaped mold, you’ll wrap strips of puff pastry around it and end up with a “tube” that has an opening on both ends. This allows you to add filling from both ends. I use a tube mold in this recipe.
With the cone-shaped mold, you’ll get a pastry that tapers off to a close on one end. They look similar to ice cream cones. With a cone-shaped cream horn, you’ll add filling from only one end.
Option 2: DIY Cream Horn Molds
Here are 3 simple ways to make your own DIY molds for cream horns.
How To Make Your Own Cream Horn Molds
- Wrap tinfoil around a clothespin or thick wooden dowels. This will result in more of a tube shape.
- Wrap tinfoil around sugar cones. This will result in an ice cream cone shape.
- Tear long sheets of aluminum foil about 8-12″ long. Then fold it in half, and roll each sheet into a cone shape.
Ingredients and Tools For Cream Horn Filling
Many types of fillings can be added to cream horns.
Some people enjoy a filling with cream cheese for a bit of tang to cut the sweetness. Others like a light cream, so a whipped cream filling would do the trick.
I have a sweet tooth, so in this recipe, I use a thick and creamy filling that is similar to a buttercream frosting.
Cream Horns Filling Ingredients
- Vegetable shortening or butter flavored Crisco
- Powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- Milk or heavy cream
- Vanilla extract or paste
- I like to use vanilla paste in my recipes for a strong, pure vanilla flavor. One thing to note is that your white icing will have visible tiny dark “flecks” of vanilla. I think it looks fancy and gourmet! A brand of vanilla paste I personally use and recommend is Nielson-Massey.
- If you decide to use a regular vanilla extract, a great choice again is Nielson-Massey brand. If you’re looking for a clear extract that won’t add any color to your buttercream, try this Watkins vanilla.
- Pinch of salt (optional)
Tools For Filling Cream Horns
You will also need a couple of tools to fill the cream horn with buttercream: a piping bag and a decorating tip (optional).
Piping Bag Options
In this recipe, we stuck with the simple, classic method of dusting powdered sugar on top of our cream horns.
However, there are plenty of other options to decorate cream horns. Here are a few ideas.
Ideas For Decorating Cream Horns
- After baking the creme horns and before filling, dip the ends in melted dark chocolate.
- For a perfect light golden brown top, create a quick egg wash by combining egg with about a teaspoon of water. Before baking, use a pastry brush to apply the egg wash. If desired, sprinkled with sugar.
- Drizzle milk, dark or colored white chocolate over the cream horns.
- Add sprinkles to the frosting that peeks out of each end of the cream horn.
- Try some different flavors of filling.
- For a chocolate version, try this homemade chocolate buttercream.
- Pumpkin cream horns would be simple to make by adding pumpkin pie spice.
- Adding peppermint extract would be great for Christmas.
- You could even substitute egg nog for the heavy cream for a New Year’s Eve treat.
- Fruit flavored extracts like lemon and orange would be nice for a lighter summer treat.
How to Make Cream Horns Recipe: Step By Step Instructions
Step 1: Preheat Oven
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
At this time, also grab a baking sheet and cover it with parchment paper.
Step 2: Prepare Puff Pastry Dough
Lightly flour your clean work surface to prevent sticking. Unfold a sheet of puff pastry dough.
If needed, gently roll the dough with a rolling pin to ensure the dough is even.
Use a pizza cutter to cut strips of dough. Each dough strip should be about 3/4″.
Step 3: Wrap Pastry Strips Around Mold
Spray your store-bought metal mold or homemade aluminum foil mold with non-stick cooking spray.
Wrap strips of dough around each mold, making sure the layers are slightly overlapping.
PRO TIP: Make sure to overlap layers. If you don’t, you will have gaps where the filling will be visible and can possible leak out.
After you’ve reached the end of the mold, gentle press the end to the top layer of pastry to prevent it from popping off while baking.
Step 4: Bake The Horns
Place the assembled cones onto a greased baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake them in the preheated oven for about 18 minutes or until light golden brown, then remove from the oven.
Remove from the baking sheet and transfer carefully to a wire rack.
Step 5: Remove Horns From The Forms
While the cone is still hot, gently remove each baked horn from the mold.
PRO TIP: Doing this step while the cone is hot will help prevent the horn from sticking to the mold. Use a towel to hold the end of the mold so you don’t burn your hands.
Let the horns cool completely on the wire rack before filling with cream.
Step 6: Prepare Cream Filling
While the horns are baking or cooling, prepare your buttercream filling.
In a large bowl, add the softened butter and shortening.
Combine at medium speed with an electric mixer or stand mixer with whisk attachment until soft peaks form. The mixture will be creamy and light in color.
Continue to beat over medium speed as you gradually add the powdered sugar. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed to fully incorporate all of the sugar.
Once the butter and powdered sugar have come together, the mixture will form stiff peaks.
Add vanilla, and beat in the heavy whipping cream or milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
PRO TIP: When making the filling, always start with a little bit of liquid at a time. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away if you add too much!
If your filling is too sweet, add a pinch of salt and mix until it’s completely incorporated.
Step 7: Fill Cream Horns
Fill your bag about half full with buttercream filling. Pipe the cream firmly into each end of the horn so it fills the entire pastry and comes slightly out the end.
Step 8: Dust Horns With Powdered Sugar
Using a small sifter, dust the cream horns with powdered sugar.
How To Store Cream Horns
Like most desserts, cream horns taste best when eaten the same day they are made. However, you can store them refrigerated in an airtight container until you are ready to enjoy them.
Can You Freeze Puff Pastry Horns?
Yes, cream horns can be frozen and enjoyed at a later time. For best results, wrap each filled cream horn individually in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Freeze in an airtight container. Cream horns can be thawed in the refrigerator or a room temperature.
What Is The Difference Between A Cream Horn And A Cannoli?
At first glance, cream horns and cannolis may seem like very similar desserts. Both feature a pastry shell filled with a delicate cream or filling. However, there are some important differences between these two treats that set them apart.
To start, cream horns are typically shaped like a cone or a long twist or spiral. Cannolis are more cylindrical in shape.
Cream horns typically feature a sweet vanilla filling or whipped cream, while the typical filling in a cannoli is a creamy custard-like filling made with ricotta.
And finally, cream horns are usually made with a flaky baked puff pastry, while cannolis have a fried pastry shell.
What Else Are Cream Horns Called?
Cream horns go by many names including:
- Puffy Pastry Horn
- Lady Locks
- Clothespin Cookies
- Schaumrollen or Schillerlocken (Austrian)
- Italian Cream Horns or Cannoncini (Italian)
- Trobochki (Russian)
- Kornedákia (Greek)
What Is The Cream In Cream Horns Made Of?
The cream inside of a cream horn is traditionally made from whipped cream, although there are some variations that use different ingredients like our recipe that uses a delicious buttercream. Some recipes may add flavorings such as chocolate, strawberry or lemon to the cream for a slightly different taste.
How Do You Eat A Cream Horn?
The delicious outer shell of the cream horn is flaky, delicious and delicate. We have found the best way to eat a cream horn is to cut it into slices with a sharp knife. Another option is to simply take a bite from the end – just like you would eat a hot dog. Just be prepared for lots of flaky crumbs!
- For The Buttercream Filling
- 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening or butter flavored Crisco
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 cups sifted powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or paste
- 2-3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
- Pinch of salt (optional)
- For The Cream Horns
- 1 Package Frozen Puff Pastry Sheet
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Take out a sheet of puff pastry to let it thaw enough that you can unfold it without it breaking apart. Once thawed, cut the pastry sheet into 3/4″ inch equal strips. Set aside.
- Spray your store-bought metal form or homemade tinfoil cones with non-stick spray.
- Wrap a strip of pastry around each cone, starting at the pointed end and making sure to overlap layers. After you’ve reached the end of the pastry, gentle press the end to the top layer of pastry to prevent it from popping off while baking.
- Place the assembled cones onto a greased sheet. Bake them for about 18 minutes or until light golden brown, then remove from the oven.
- Gently remove each horn from the mold hot to prevent from horn sticking to the mold. Use a towel to hold the end of mold so you don’t burn your hands. Let the horns cool completely before filling with cream.
- While the cones are baking or cooling, prepare the buttercream filling. In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and shortening over medium speed with an electric mixer until soft and creamy.
- Continue to beat over medium speed as you gradually add the powdered sugar. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed to fully incorporate all of the sugar.
- Once butter and sugar have come together, add the vanilla. Beat in the heavy cream or milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. If your frosting is too sweet, add a pinch of salt and mix until it’s completely dissolved.
- Fill the horns with cream. To fill, use a decorating bag with Wilton 32 tip (for an open star pattern) or 12 tip (for a smooth edge on icing). You can also use a large ziplock bag with the corner snipped off.
- Fill your bag about half full with buttercream. Pipe the cream firmly into each end of the horn so it fills the entire pastry and comes slightly out the end.
- Using a small sifter, dust the cream-filled pastries with powdered sugar. If desired, you can also drizzle with melted chocolate before serving.
Micky Reed, a two-decade veteran in the food and baking industry, leverages her influential Three Snackateers food blog and Instagram presence to collaborate with industry giants like Ben & Jerry's and Crumbl Cookies. Her work has been featured on Delish, PopSugar and more. Her expertise as a product curator for one of the world's largest international snack subscription box companies solidifies her status as a key player in the field.