Choux puffs are a blessing, they really are. These little puffs are so delicious and more-ish, absolutely everyone loves them. With a crunchy topping and smooth milky vanilla custard, they will keep you coming back for more. Impress your family and friends with these beautiful little puffs of joy. You will definitely be everyone’s new favourite person if you treat them with these delicious puffs. Serve them as a teatime snack or as an after dinner treat.
These little choux puffs are actually known as choux au craquelin, more like choux au crack cocaine, because they are so good and slightly addictive. These puffs are actually different to traditional choux puffs or cream puffs as the have the biscuit topping (craquelin). These puffs are so delicious and actually easy to make. It’s a basic choux pastry, topped with small discs of a buttery biscuit, and filled with vanilla pastry cream (crème pâtissière). A lot of people are afraid of making choux pastry, but there is nothing to fear. In my opinion choux pastry is a basic recipe that any beginner can master. It falls in the same category that you will find béchamel sauce, scones, basic vanilla sponge, buttercream etc. Just because it has a fancy French name does not make it difficult.
These choux puffs are very basic and simple, but it is usually the simple things in life that are always the best. They are light and airy and won’t make you feel guilty at all for indulging in one or twelve. They can also look quite impressive, and will wow your family and guests. The best thing about them, is that you can easily freeze the puffs and just reheat them in the oven. So you can make a double batch and freeze half of the puffs for later. And then at a later stage you can just crisp them up in the oven and fill them with some sweetened cream or creme pat (crème pâtissière). Then you will always be prepared for an unannounced teatime visit.
How to the make choux puffs:
So like many recipes these choux au craqueline have three components. There’s the biscuit dough (topping), the choux pastry, and the the pastry cream (filling). First things first, make the biscuit dough as it needs to harden in the freezer before you can use it. It’s a basic three ingredient biscuit. You just mix the softened butter, sugar and flour together. And you then roll it out into a flat rectangle and cut small discs with a round cutter.
How to make creme pat:
Once you are done making the biscuit, you can move on to the custard as it needs to cool. The pastry cream is the same basic custard I used for the bee sting cake recipe, you can find that recipe here. This creme pat is my go to custard for any and all baking adventures that require pastry cream. The milk is brought to boiling point. Egg yolks and sugar are whisked together, then cake flour and corn flour is added. The hot milk is whisked together with the egg yolk mixture. It is then all added back to the pot over a medium heat to simmer until thickened. You then place it in a bowl, cover it with cling film (directly on top of the custard) to cool in the fridge.
How to make choux pastry:
To make the choux pastry, you boil the water, milk and butter in a pot. Add the flour to the pot, stir it in, and start to vigorously mix it until it forms a ball. Keep stirring until there is a thin film of dough over the bottom of the pan. In a separate bowl, mix the choux dough with a mixer. While the mixer is running, add the eggs to the dough in threes. Mix it until you have a smooth, thick batter. Once the right consistency is achieved, pipe small buns onto prepared baking sheets. Top the choux buns with the biscuit discs and in the oven they go. There are a bunch of useful videos all over the internet, so go watch a few of those if you are feeling uncertain about the choux pastry.
- For the biscuits: leave the butter out to warm to room temperature and soften. This will make it very easy to mix into the other ingredients to form the cookie dough.
- Roll the cookie dough between two sheets of baking paper, and cut discs with a cookie cutter before placing it in the freezer.
- For the choux: make sure you have all the ingredients measured out beforehand as this will make the process much easier and quicker.
- Be careful not to cook the choux dough for too long, as it can become too stiff. Cook and stir it to release some of the moisture, just until there is a thin film of dough on the bottom of the pan. Cook it for about 90 seconds.
- Mix the choux pastry well, so that there aren’t any lumps. Scrape the mixing bowl down and mix again, to make sure everything has been mixed into a smooth homogenous batter.
- Do not open the oven door while the choux buns are baking, as it can cause them to deflate.
- When the choux buns are done baking, immediately transfer them to a cooling rack. Use a cake tester or toothpick to make a small hole in each bun, this will help the steam to escape so that the buns stay crisp.
- For the creme pat: Stir the milk as it heats up and make sure it does not scald. Also, stir the custard continuously to ensure that it does not burn.
Please give these bad boys a go. It really is much easier than it looks and, oh my word, they are so delicious! You will have zero regrets.
Choux Puffs (Choux Au Craquelin)
For the biscuit topping:
- 45 g butter (softened)
- 50 g brown sugar
- 50 g cake flour
For the creme pat/custard:
- 500 ml full cream milk
- pinch salt
- 5 ml vanilla
- 5 extra large egg yolks
- 75 g caster sugar
- 25 g cake flour
- 20 g corn flour
For the choux pastry:
- 65 g water
- 65 g full cream milk
- 55 g butter (room temperature)
- pinch salt
- 5 ml caster sugar
- 100 g cake flour
- 110 g eggs (beaten) (2 extra large eggs)
For the biscuit topping:
- Mix the butter and brown sugar together. Mix vigorously until you have a smooth consistency and the butter has changed to a lighter colour. Then add the flour and mix together well.
- Put the cookie batter between two baking paper sheets. Gently roll the batter into a flat rectangle, about 1-2mm thick. Place the cookie layer on a flat surface in the freezer for later.
For the creme pat/custard:
- In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together, until it has thickened and turned light yellow (about 1-2 min). Add the corn flour and cake flour to the eggs and whisk in well. Place the milk, vanilla and a pinch of salt in a medium sized pot on the stove (over a high heat). With a clean whisk, stir the milk as it heats up (to ensure it does not burn). Once the milk starts steaming take it off the heat.
- Pour the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture while whisking. Then pour the custard back into the pot and place back on the stove, over a medium heat. Continue stirring the custard as it starts to thicken. Once it has started to boil and is considerably thicker, take it off the heat and pour it into a clean bowl. Place a piece of cling film directly onto the custard and place in the fridge to cool down.
For the choux pastry:
- Preheat your oven to 210C/200C fan. Prepare a large baking sheet with baking paper.
- Add the water, milk, butter and a pinch of salt to a medium sized pot. Place the pot on the stove over a high heat. Stir every few seconds until the butter has melted. Once the butter has melted and it comes to a slow boil, add the flour to the pot. Stir the flour into the liquid until it comes together. Vigorously beat the dough until it forms a ball. Keep it over the heat until you see a thin film of batter over the bottom of the pan.
- Remove from the heat, and place the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with the beater attachment and drizzle the beaten eggs in bit by bit. Mix thoroughly until you have a smooth thick batter. Spoon the choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a round piping nozzle.
- Pipe small buns onto the baking paper, with your piping bag at a 90 degree angle. The piped buns should be about 3cm wide and 3cm high. You should be able to get 30 small buns out of the batch.
Baking and assembly:
- Take your layer of craquelin/biscuit out out of the freezer, and press small disc out with a 3,5cm round cutter. Place a frozen disc onto each of the choux buns and press down gently. The discs should be resting level on top of the buns.
- Bake your choux buns for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the buns from the oven and place them on a cooling rack. Make small holes in the tops of the bun with a cake tester/toothpick. Be careful as the steam will be hot. Allow to cool.
- Once the buns are cool, cut a small piece off the tops and pipe your cool custard into them with a piping bag. Gently place the tops back onto the piped custard. Dust them with some icing sugar and serve.