Whimsically crunchy, velvety and crisp! These puffs are a trifecta of fun textures. # 194: Craquelin Cream Puffs
Sometimes you get that urge to make profiteroles and nothing can stop you. Not even the fact that we’re in a ridiculous mid-October heat wave and it’s already way too late in the day to start a three-part bake. (This instant gratification train cannot be stopped!)
I decided to take you all along for the ride, so thanks for bearing with my poor lighting and silly decoration. It all seemed like an excellent idea at 11pm!
Side note – Nate decided this one was a mouse, but I’m getting bear vibes.
This bake was a fun blend of the familiar and the unknown. It featured my favorite vanilla pastry cream (basically custard) and friendly little choux pastry shells. But the star of the show was the craquelin topping! I’ve seen them use it on the Great British Baking Show and it always seemed intimidating – impeding the rise of their pastries or browning too much before the rest was fully cooked.
The closest thing I’ve done was the topping for the chocolate conchas, though that didn’t crack as much, or stay as crisp.
Fun fact – it’s way easier than it seems. Plus, I love onomatopoeia! Try saying craquelin outloud slowly and it sounds just like biting into the crispy sweet shell on top of a choux puff.
Timing was semi-important on this bake, since some things needed time in the freezer and fridge. I started off with the craquelin and popped it in the freezer, then the pastry cream and put it to bed in the fridge before whipping up the choux pastry.
It will look incredibly sandy, but have a little faith.
Ta-daa! I really liked that it uses brown sugar as the sweetener. You get a deeper flavor, and the molasses in it helps bind a bit better than plain white sugar.
I attempted to roll it out without the parchment paper and *instant regret.* The parchment paper keeps it from pulling apart and sticking to the rolling pin!
On to the pastry cream! I saw a baking video where the person used a little cup that looked like a chicken to separate the egg whites from the yolks. The beak was open just enough for the whites to slip through and keep the yolk in the bowl of the cup. Yep, it was a weird looking as you’re imagining right now.
I’ve made it so many times on this blog by now, that I didn’t take pictures of the process. But you know the drill by now!
- Mix egg yolks with cornstarch and sugar into a paste
- Scald milk with some vanilla
- Pour a tiny bit of the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking to temper it
- Keep whisking and gently pour the rest of the milk in
- Pour it all back into the milk pan and whisk it over medium heat til it thickens into a glorious custard
- Run it through a sieve into a bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes to calm down
- Plop your pat of butter in and stir til incorporated
- Put parchment paper on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming and pop it into the fridge until you’re ready to use it
Grab your choux(s), it’s pastry time! Don’t worry, I cringed while writing it too.
Not only does it have a super short ingredient list (only 6! if you’re including salt and water), but you also get a free arm workout in the process.
Remember how I said we’re in a heat wave? Luckily my stand mixer came to the rescue and saved me from beating the eggs in by hand, whew.
Don’t forget the craquelin! I had to keep popping it back in the freezer to keep it from getting too melty to handle.
Lil craquelin hats. A little on the small side, but now I know for future bakes.
Bigger craquelin hats would have gone all the way down to the base of the puff, giving it a more even look. I’m excited to play with the flavors too!
Next time, I’m going to add something fun to my craquelin, like cinnamon, cocoa, orange zest or cardamom, and use the choux proportions from Zoe Bakes to get them to rise higher.
Happy munching! (P.S. – this one’s a fish! I know I know, it’s basically a blob with fins, but it’s kinda cute amirite?)
Choux & Craquelin Recipes from: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018777-craquelin-topped-cream-puffs