My initial experience with choux au craquelin was rather disappointing. And I think that was what put me off trying this for the longest time. But after the recent success with eclairs, I figure maybe it is about time to give it another shot. This recipe for the craquelin layer seems quite promising, and I have to say, for once my guts were right.
Makes 35 mini puffs
1 batch pâte à choux
1/2 batch crème chiboust
For the craquelin
28g unsalted butter, at room temperature
34g light brown sugar
31g plain flour
1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
For the chocolat crème chantilly
1 tsp gelatine powder
30g icing sugar
240ml heavy cream, very cold + 5ml
1.5 tbsp kirsch
1) Make the craquelin layer by adding all the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, cream the ingredients into they are well mixed. Scrap the mixture into a ball and wrap in cling film and refrigerate until required.
2) Make the pâte à choux and pipe small rounds roughly 1.5 inch diameter on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Keep about 1 inch between the piped choux.
3) Remove the refrigerated craquelin, and roll it out to about 2mm between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Using a small circular cutter (or a piping tip), cut out little circular pieces of craquelin. To make it easier to pick up the circles, freeze the rolled out craquelin for about 10 minutes.
4) Place the craquelin circles onto the piped choux, then dust lightly with icing sugar.
5) Bake at 180C (fan) in a pre-heated oven for 27 to 29 minutes, until the buns are puffed and browned.
6) To make the chantilly, slightly heat the chocolate ganache to soften it, and leave aside to cool.
7) Bloom the gelatine powder in 1 tablespoon of cold water for 5 minutes. Then, melt the gelatine mixture in a bain-marie. Leave to cool.
8) Whisk the cold heavy cream with the icing sugar until it has thicken and starts to hold soft peak.
9) Add the 5ml heavy cream to the gelatine mixture, mix slightly, and pour it into the whipped cream while whisk is running. Continue whisking until stiff peaks formed. Fold the chocolate ganache and kirsch into the whipped cream. Leave to cool overnight in the refrigerator.
10) To fill the choux, slice open the buns. Fill the bottom half the choux with the crème chiboust. Fill the chantilly into a pastry bag and piped the chantilly on top of the crème chiboust. Then place the cut top onto the chantilly.
One of the most important things about choux pastry is, it must be baked thoroughly. To know this, check for the slightly dark brown exterior. This will give it the “crunch” and ensure it does not flatten as it cools. It also ensures the inside of the puffs are empty so they can be filled. I have to say, the choux buns straight out of the oven was absolutely delisious on its own. But, well, there is nothing chocolate does not make better.