Crunchy, crackly, coated pate a choux is an elegant, unforgettable, supreme French pastry that is the canvas for any filling imaginable. This choux au craquelin recipe can be used for eclairs, cream puffs, St. Honore, or any choux pastry you want to add flair to.
When you take a bite of choux au craquelin you’ll get a crispy, crackly, sugary crunch that leads you into a bite of light, airy puff that gives way to cool and creamy filling. To me, this is the ultimate dessert and my favorite French Pastry to make and eat.
Grant’s most requested holiday treats are cream puffs and choux au craquelin. These crispy cream puffs won me his heart 13 years ago and has kept his stomach happy ever since! This is a timeless dessert that is always passionately devoured when I add it to every dessert spread.
With Easter weekend right around the corner and all this time on our hands to practice pastry, I wanted to share my choux au craquelin with praline pastry cream filling. I put pictures of these beauties up on Instagram for the New Year and have been flooded with requests for the recipe for months. With all this quarantine baking in full swing I thought it would be an ideal time to put them up.
Choux Au Craquelin
One of the first pastries I ever learned how to make was choux. Cream puffs were a treat in our home when I was a child. Over special holidays my Mom would let me help her assemble a small croquembouche out of the puffs. Forget “Mama”, my first word was pastry! These are so visually stunning while having such a core simplicity. Choux doesn’t take any special ingredients, but it’s the way you mix and bake them that makes all the difference. The craquelin, a small tweak, completely revamps choux into something quite magical.
Make sure to look at my Choux Pastry recipe for all the tips and tricks to making the perfect cream puff and pate a choux base for the craquelin!
What Is Craquelin?
Craquelin is made up of frozen blend of butter, sugar, and flour. Being the flavor seeker that I am, I always add a touch of vanilla extract and salt. The dough is comparable to cookie dough. The dough is rolled very thin and frozen. Then it is cut into rounds and placed over the piped choux dough before baking. As the puffs bake the frozen craquelin crackles all over and sets into the crispiest, most flavorful, and delectable topping. I rarely even make cream puffs without the addition of craquelin. Also, these puffs are ssstunning to look at.
Praline Pastry Cream Filling
You can use any filling you desire for choux au craqulin. Use vanilla lemon pastry cream from my Roasted Strawberry Sumac Tart or a simple vanilla bean whipped cream or even chocolate mascarpone filling. When I make this recipe I use either caramelized white chocolate pastry cream or praline cream. Those are my two favorite pastry cream fillings. I have included the recipe for my praline diplomat.
Praline diplomat cream is most often used in Paris-Brest, which is also made from choux. Diplomat cream is pastry cream that has gelatin and cornstarch. However, for the choux au craquelin pictured, I simply folded in some whipped cream to lighten the pastry cream while giving it structure.
To make hazelnut praline pastry cream you need praline paste. I always make mine from scratch, even though I botched a bit when I did it on The Great American Baking Show! Cue The Queen song, Under Pressure! But here is that recipe for praline paste and how to make hazelnut praline pastry cream.
Thanks for making Choux Au Craquelin! Follow me on Instagram for more recipes, food pics, and fun story polls. Have a happy and safe Easter! XO, Sarita
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Choux Au Craquelin
Crunchy, crackly, coated pate a choux is an elegant, unforgettable, supreme French pastry that is the canvas for any filling imaginable.
Praline Pastry Cream Diplomat
Use a food processor to pulse the butter, sugar, and salt. Then add the flour and pulse a few times. Add vanilla. Pulse again 3 times to incorporate .
Then put the dough onto a piece of parchment paper. Form a disc. Place another piece of parchment over it and roll it to 1/8 inch thickness. Then freeze for 45-60 minutes. Prepare choux, then cut into 2 inch diameter rounds and place over piped choux right before baking.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fit a piping bag with a large round piping tip. Line baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.
In a medium sized pot set over medium heat, combine the milk and water, butter, salt, and sugar. Stir to combine and stir as the butter melts.
As the mixture begins to boil remove from the heat and add the flour at once. Then mix it with a wooden spoon quickly to combine into a dough. It will be like a thick paste.
Return the pot to the heat. This is crucial to dry out the dough. Stir it constantly. It will turn into a ball and pull away from sides of pot. This takes about 90 seconds to 2 minutes.
Then remove from heat and put the dough into a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (You can also do this by hand, but put dough into a large mixing bowl and use the wooden spoon. )
Have mixer on low and stream in lightly beaten eggs (eyeball one at a time), allowing time after each addition to completely mix. Once it is fully smooth and mixed, pour batter into piping bag.
Pipe 2 inch mounds of choux. Flatten down with a wet fingertip, if needed.
Then remove craquelin from freezer. Cut out 2 inch rounds and place a round on each mound of dough.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden and puffed. Do not open the oven during baking time!
They will be firm and hollow in the middle. Allow to cool on racks completely before filling.
Praline Pastry Cream
In a saucepan set over medium low heat, combine 1.5 cups of milk, salt, and sugar. Stir to combine.
Then in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with remaining milk and cornstarch.
Once the milk has heated to almost a simmer, temper it into eggs using a steady stream and whisking the eggs vigorously. Then pour back into saucepan. Whisk gently and frequently as it will thicken in 8-10 minutes. Once it thickens, remove from the heat and whisk in the praline paste, butter, and vanilla. Cool completely.
Then whip heavy whipping cream until stiff. Gently fold the cream into the pastry cream to lighten it. Fill the choux buns as desired.
To make caramelized white chocolate pastry cream, simply swap out the praline paste with melted caramelized white chocolate.
To make pistachio pastry cream, substitute pistachio paste.