Aaaand yep, I know what you’re thinking… really, REALLY?! Another classic French pastry dough… no thank you. Well, just hold on a second, honestly, I promise this is totally worth giving a go!
Today, we’re tackling Pâte à Choux (Choux Pastry) & turning it up a notch, I present you; Chocolate Choux au Craquelin.
What are cream puffs / What is Choux Pastry
In French, “Choux” means cabbage and “Pâte” means paste. Why is it called “cabbage paste” you ask? It comes from the resemblance the pastry has, when baked, the choux puffs up with little crinkles and ruffles like little cabbages!
Tips for better Pâte à Choux:
- Dampen your baking paper. It is the steam that helps the choux pastry to rise. You can create even more steam by spraying the baking tray with some water.
- Don’t over boil your water/butter mixture. We want all the water for steam so don’t let your pot boil for too long, once it comes to a boil, remove it from the heat immediately & add your flour all at once. Then cook the dough further on the stove so that enough moisture evaporates to get a good dough.
- Leave in the oven to cool. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar, and allow the cream puffs to cool there. This dries them out even further.
- Using a water moistened finger, smooth down the peaks and lightly brush each mound with egg wash.
- To make it yourself easier, have all your eggs whisked in a jug, before adding it to the dough. So you can add a little at a time until you get the consistency you like. This will ensure that you get an even mix of egg white and yolks being added to the dough at all times.
- Create a template for piping your choux using a cookie cutter. For normal ones, trace 3 cm or 1 1/4 inch. For big ones; I did 4,5 cm or 1,7-inch circles on each baking sheet using a pen or a pencil, leaving some room for spreading, then flip over the baking sheet so that the side with the drawing is facing downward.
What is Chocolate Choux au Craquelin?
The Craquelin is a dough made with softened butter, sugar, and flour. It is chilled in the freezer and then cut into thin discs to place on top of the choux to bake together. As the choux pastry bakes and expands, the Craquelin bakes and forms a sweet, crisp, crackly crust on top, enveloping the top of the cream puff.
There are plenty of different variations that you can experiment with. You can add different colorings and flavorings to the Craquelin to create various memorable cream puffs. As well as various fillings, from pastry cream to simply chantilly cream, Dulce de Leche, Lemon Curd, or anything else you might like best.
For this Chocolate Choux au Craquelin recipe, I used unsweetened cocoa powder for its chocolatey flavor.
You can use a ziplock bag and roll out the Chocolate Craquelin dough inside it. Less messy, and keeps the dough from sticking everywhere. Plus, it’s easy to store it in the freezer for later.
How to make Choux Pastry?
Choux pastry comes together in about 10-15 minutes. Most of the ingredients are cooked together on the stove. A good choux bun has an empty interior making space for lots of filling & a light and crisp outer shell. To get this, you have to add the correct amount of egg to the dough.
Now that’s the tricky part– the number of eggs in choux pastry isn’t really consistent between batches. Humidity, the exact size of an egg, or how long you cooked your pastry on the stove. It creates inconsistencies.
What you’re looking for here is a dough that looks glossy, but still thick, can hold its shape and is pipeable.
Stop adding the eggs when you can lift a bit of the dough and it falls on its own leaving behind a “V” shape hanging from the spatula. If you add more or less of that amount you won’t get a nice cavity.
Hold the pastry bag (and tip) upright when you’re piping the choux, and not at an angle. This way your choux pastry will rise perfectly upwards, and not be lopsided.
Transfer the choux pastry to a large piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Using your traced circle as a guide, pipe mounds onto the baking sheet, ending each with a little flick of your wrist. If the choux has left a point, you can flatten down with a wet fingertip. Repeat until you used all of the choux pastry.
Remove the Chocolate Craquelin from the freezer, cut out circles of dough, using the same sized cutter you used to trace the circles on the parchment paper. Place each circle on top of a mound of choux, pressing lightly to adhere. If you are baking one tray at a time, ensure that you only put the Craquelin on the tray that goes in the oven – put the Chocolate Craquelin on the second tray just before you bake them.
Chocolate Choux au Craquelin – Crispy Chocolate Cream Puffs with Chocolate Hazelnut filling.
- Standing mixer (paddle and whisk attachment)
- Large bowl
- Rolling Pin
- baking tray lined with baking paper
- Pastry Brush
- 110 g Unsalted butter at room temperature
- 100 g All-Purpose flour
- 20 g Unsweetened Cacao
- 100 g Dark brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
Cream Puff Dough
- 100 g Unsalted Butter
- 125 ml Water
- 125 ml Milk
- 180 g All-Purpose flour
- 250 g eggs (around 5 eggs – I got to use 6!) I like to crack them into a jug, and whisk them before adding to the dough.
- 10 g Caster sugar
- Pinch of salt
Chocolate Hazelnut Whipped Cream Filling
- 200 g Callebaut Fine Hazelnut Praline OR Nutella
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
- 500 g Heavy Whipped cream (35% and 40%)
- Pinch of salt
- Place all ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until everything's combined. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of baking paper, and top with a second piece. Roll out to 1-2mm in thickness. With the dough still in between the parchment sheets, put in the freezer for an hour, or until ready to use (This can be made ahead).
Pâte à Choux
- Preheat your oven to 220°C
- In a saucepan, combine the water, milk, sugar, salt & butter. Bring to a boil on Medium-High heat.
- Add the flour all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball and separates from the sides of the pan (1-2 mins). The mixture will we quite thick.Do NOT scrape the bottom of the pan.
- Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cooldown the dough by mixing it at a low speed and no longer than 2 – 3 minutes. (You don’t want to add the eggs while the dough is too hot. This can cook the eggs, and even give your choux an eggy taste).
- (Alternatively, you can mix the eggs in by hand with a wooden spoon!)With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each egg is incorporated. The dough might split, but continue beating until it comes together again before adding the next egg. Scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.
- What you’re looking for here is a dough that looks glossy, but still thick, can hold its shape and is pipeable. Place a rubber spatula in the dough, upright, stir the dough a little, and slowly lift the spatula, straight up. If it forms a 'V' which eventually breaks off, you are good to go. If it seems too stiff, slowly add another beaten egg and mix to incorporate.
- Prepare a baking tray with parchment paper and spray the surface with water (either that or lightly sprinkle water with your hands – this is an optional step).
- Transfer dough to a piping bag. Pipe into rounds for creampuffs (I did 4,5 cm / 1,7 inch circles). Press pointed tips, using your finger moistened with water to round them out. (However, if you’re topping the choux pastry with Craquelin, then you don’t have to do this.)
- Use a pastry brush to brush a very thin coating of beaten egg all over your piped choux.
- Remove the craquelin from the freezer, and remove the top piece of parchment paper/silicone mat. Using the same sized cutter you used to trace the circles on the parchment paper, cut out circles of dough. Place each carefully on top of a mound of choux, pressing lightly to adhere.
- Bake at 170 for 25-30 mins until they have doubled in size and are crisp & lightly golden. Do not open the oven door during the baking process.
- Let them cool down in an open but turned off oven.
- UNLESS you've got another batch of choux pastry to bake. So let the choux pastry cool down in a warm, draft-free area. The kitchen is the perfect spot. (which is already warm because the oven’s been doing its thing).
Chocolate Hazelnut Whipped Cream Filling
- Whisk (either in a large bowl or mixing bowl) the whipped cream, vanilla and salt to stiff peaks. Fold in the chocolate hazelnut spread using a spatula, making sure not to deflate too much. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round or Bismarck pastry tip.
Carefully poke a hole in the bottom of each cream puff using a chopstick. Insert the end of the piping tip into the cream puff, and pipe the diplomat cream in until you feel the cream puff fill and become heavy. Wipe off any excess that may spill out from overfilled choux.
Lightly dust the Chocolate Choux au Craquelin with powdered sugar.
So, it looks like you May’d it, huh? 😉
They’re not meant to be THAT big… But I got carried away and made HUGE versions, so maybe next time I’ll actually listen to the recipe instead of my belly, BUT who cares, they were GOOOOD!
These Chocolate Choux au Craquelin are best consumed within 4 hours of making them.
You can store baked unfilled Choux shells in an airtight container at room temperature to prevent them from drying out up to 1-2 days.
To freeze unfilled Choux, wrap tightly in plastic wrap or resealable plastic bags for up to 3 months. Do not cut cream puffs open before freezing. Thaw in the refrigerator before filling and serving.
Store baked filled Choux shells in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
I would not recommend freezing baked filled cream puff shells.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #WhatsUpDoughBakes.