Cream puffs (profiteroles) and eclairs are made from a dough traditionally called eclair paste or choux paste. The name comes from French and literally means “cabbage paste”, referring to the resemblance of cream puffs to little cabbages.
Choux paste is easy to make, you need 10-15 minutes to prepare it. But to get a better result it is very important to let it chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
Today we are going to make choux puffs with praline pastry cream. We also going to decorate the top of the puffs with craquelin (Petit Choux au Craquelin) and to hide a tiny heart of praline filling inside.
Here is the recipe:
Ingredients for the Choux Paste:
- 65 ml of whole milk
- 65 ml of water
- 55 g unsalted butter
- 125 g whole eggs (3 large eggs, approximate quantity)
- 75 g sifted all-purpose flour
- a pinch of salt
Directions for the Choux Paste:
- Combine water, milk, butter and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring the mixture to boil on medium heat. Mix well to let the butter disperse in the liquid, it shouldn’t be floating on top.
- Add the flour all at once and stir quickly. Keep stirring until the paste pulls away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball. On the bottom of the pan the paste will leave a thin film, it is normal.
- Let the choux paste cook for appx. two more minutes on low heat, keep stirring.
- Remove the choux paste from the heat, put it in a mixer bowl and with a paddle attachment mix it at low-medium speed, to let it cool down to 45-60 ºC (112-140 ºF) approximately, which is very warm but not too hot to touch. If the paste is not cooled slightly, it may cook the eggs when we add them.
- Slightly beat the eggs in advance, and then add them a little at a time. Entirely mix the eggs in each addition before adding some more. If eggs are added to quickly, it will be challenging to get a smooth and silky texture of the batter. Do not add all the eggs before checking the texture. The paste should be moist and silky, but still firm enough to hold its shape. If the paste reaches this texture before all the eggs are in, stop adding eggs. It is possible as well, that you might need a bit more beaten eggs, it mostly depends on the flour.
- The paste is ready now, but it should be chilled in the fridge for 1 hour before backing. Put it in a pastry bag with a plain tube and send to the fridge.
Ingredients for the Craquelin Paste:
- 100 g sifted all-purpose flour
- 100 g brown sugar
- 80 g unsalted butter
Directions for the Craquelin Paste:
- In a bowl mix the sliced softened butter with the brown sugar until you get a smooth paste.
- Add the flour, and mix until it is fully incorporated.
- Make a ball with your hands, place it between 2 sheets of baking paper, then roll the dough with a rolling pin, to make it 2-3 mm thick.
- Put in the freezer for minimum 20 minutes.
Backing Choux Puffs with Craquelin:
- Preheat the oven to 175ºC (347°F)
- Line backing sheet pan with a silicone mat (silpat) or parchment paper.
- Pipe out round mounds of paste about 3 cm in diameter. You can also drop the dough with a spoon, but doing so it will be more complicated to get a nice, round and uniform puffs.
- With a 2,5 cm diameter round cookie cutter (it should be a bit smaller than your mounds of paste), cut some craquelin discs. Place the discs on the choux pastry mounds, pressing down slightly, very smooth. You should do it quickly as the craquelin paste will start to melt and soften fast.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes at 175ºC. Time depends on your oven. Bake until well browned and very crisp.
- Turn off the oven, and leave the choux puffs inside for 5 minutes. Then cool on a wire rack.
Ingredients for the Pastry Cream:
- 250 ml whole milk
- 40 g sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 15 g cornstarch
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 1 small bean
Pastry Cream Procedure:
To make a Praline cream, we have to prepare a basic pastry cream first.
- Dissolve a cornstarch in a small amount of milk ( appx. 20 ml).
- Pour the rest of milk in a heavy saucepan, add vanilla and bring just to a boil.
- With a whip, beat the yolks in a bowl.
- Add sugar and dissolved cornstarch to the yolks. Beat with the whip until perfectly smooth.
- Temper the yolk mixture by slowly pouring the hot milk in a thin steam, keep beating.
- Return the mixture to the low heat and bring to boil, stirring constantly.
- When the cream comes to a boil, it will begin to thicken. Let it cook for some more minutes, continue to stir constantly, until the cream loses starchy taste.
- Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, mix well until the butter is completely blended.
- Pour out into a clean bowl or pan. Cover with plastic film placed in contact with the surface of the cream to prevent from forming a crust.
- Cool to room temperature.
Ingredients for the Praline Pastry Cream:
- 300 g pastry cream
- 100 g unsalted butter
- 120 g hazelnut praline paste
- a pinch of ground cinnamon (1/4 tsp)
Directions for the Praline Pastry Cream:
- Put the cooled pastry cream in the mixer bowl, add softened hazelnut praline paste and mix at medium speed with a whip attachment.
- Add 100 g of cubed, softened butter. Beat the cream for a few minutes until the butter is completely blended. We are looking for a smooth texture.
- Put the cream in a pastry bag with a curly star nozzle and send to the fridge.
Ingredients for the Praline Filling:
- 50 g praline paste
- 17 ml heavy cream (min. 35%)
- a pinch of ground cinnamon (up to your taste)
- a pinch of ground ginger (up to your taste)
- a pinch of salt
Directions for the Praline Filling:
- Mix well all the ingredients in a bowl.
- Put the mixture in a pastry bag with a fine nozzle, and put it in the refrigerator.
Assembling Choux Puffs
- When the choux balls are cooled, cut the slice from the top of each puff.
- Place a small amount af praline filling in the middle of each puff.
- Fill with praline pastry cream using a pastry bag with a star tube.
- Cover with the tops and dust with sugar powder.
- Assemble choux puffs as close to service time as possible.
- Choux puffs may be filled with whipped cream, pastry cream or any other filling up to your taste.
- Cream-filled puffs must be stored in a refrigerator.
- Unfilled and uncut puffs, if they are cooled and dry, may be stored in a plastic bags in a fridge for 1 week. To make them crispy, put in the oven for a few minutes before use.
- Frozen craquelin paste may be stored in a freezer up to two months.
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