Cookie Crust Thicc Cream Puffs (Choux au Craquelin)
These thicc cream puffs are filled to the brim with cream and topped with a crispy brown sugar cookie crust – otherwise known as choux au craquelin!
Mannnn I love the look of these when they work out perfectly, but these were admittedly a pain in the ass to bake and sell LOL. Here’s why (a quick choux troubleshoot hehe):
Cream puff pastry tends to be very sensitive and fickle: dough that has too much liquid or too little will deflate. Make sure to adequately dry out the dough when you’re cooking it on the stove; it should leave a thin film on the bottom of your pan and will smell like mashed potatoes (really just the smell of flour and butter).
The egg step is important as well, 3 eggs tend to be the standard for this ratio of flour to liquid, although this may change due to your humid environment or whether you dried it out properly on the stove or not. ALWAYS incorporate eggs ONE AT A TIME for choux; the dough needs to be fully hydrated with egg with each addition so you don’t falsely assume that it needs more or less in the end. When you’re done and lift up your mixing tool, the dough should droop down in a v-shape (Google “v test choux” and you’ll see what I mean! Or look at my story highlight for this recipe on my Instagram @pokethedough)
Finally, your choux WILL deflate if you open the oven door before the cream puff shells fully form its structure; so be safe and don’t even open it until you’re done LOL I also found this out way too late, but an inconsistent oven is also hell for choux pastry. My first few times making these cream puffs in this size (instead of the standard small ones), I tried making two trays at once on two racks. Apparently, this messed with the circulation and I had ALL of my puffs deflate on me…and these were supposed to be for my first orders too – I was soooo stressed. Anytime I made these one tray at a time, it was perfect. So do that just to be safe!
A lot of recipes also tell you to prick your cream puffs right out of the oven so the steam escapes and they don’t collapse; however, this was time inefficient for me so I found that if I baked them long enough, aka the structure was stabilized, they were just fine.
Those are my tips for choux – I wish you all the luck, you can do it!
These also have little icing hearts on them – I did that because I thought it would stand out amongst other local cream puffs but really it was just a pain to make multi-color icings and painstakingly draw on each cream puff LOL man I was dumb – but at least these turned out super cute!
Makes 10-12 cream puffs
For the pate a choux:
90mL (1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp) water
90mL (1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp) milk
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
113g (3/4 cup) flour
3 large eggs
For the craquelin:
4 Tbsp (50g) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp (25g) sugar
2 Tbsp (25g) brown sugar
7 Tbsp (50g) flour
pinch of salt
For the craquelin:
Mix softened butter, sugars, flour, and salt together in a large bowl using a spatula.
Place dough between two sheets of waxed paper or parchment.
Press or roll dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. Freeze crust until hard and stiff, several hours or overnight.
For the choux pastry:
Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon baking mat.
Combine water, milk, butter, and salt in a saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon vigorously until mixture comes together into a smooth dough and pulls away cleanly from the sides and bottom of the pan. It’s ready when there is a thin film on the bottom of the pan and it smells like mashed potatoes.
Transfer to a bowl or stand mixer bowl. Spread the dough out with a spatula to speed up cooling or turn on the stand mixer on low and let the steam escape.
Cool until lukewarm, about 10 minutes.
Mix in eggs, ONE AT A TIME, with a spatula (or paddle attachment of stand mixer). Add the next egg when the last one is FULLY incorporated.
Scoop dough into pastry bag. Pipe mounds, as straight up as you can, about 2-inch diameter.
Take out the frozen craquelin. Use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut out circles in the craquelin, working quickly so that it’s easy to handle.
Lightly push each crust circle onto each choux mound.
Place the choux in the oven. Immediately switch the oven temp from 425F to 350F. Bake for 55 minutes. Do not open the oven door or they will deflate.
When done, turn off the oven, hold the oven door open with a wooden spoon and let it dry out more for 15 minutes.
Take out of the oven and cool.
I have a super inconsistent oven, so if I made twice the batch, I wouldn’t be able to bake 2 trays at a time or they will deflate. If your oven is super reliable, you can probably bake two at a time. Switch the trays around halfway through the first 10 minutes at 425F, and again during the final bake at 350F. If your oven isn’t reliable like mine, you can bake one tray off at a time – pipe out both trays of choux dough, but only top the one you are going to bake with craquelin. The ones without craquelin can be held at room temp until you are ready to bake – just add the craquelin just before you pop them into the oven. Don’t forget to increase the temperature back to 425°f before you bake the second tray.
Using a bismark piping tip, poke a hole into the bottom of each puff and fill with cream. You can also poke a hole using a chopstick or something, then fill with a thin piping tip.
If you want to decorate with the hearts, mix powdered sugar with a LITTLE bit of heavy cream until you get a thick paste. Color it with food coloring if you want. Using a toothpick, draw a heart on top.
Serve or store in fridge for a couple days.
You can also freeze the shells for a while, and store pastry cream in the fridge for a week.