Crackle Top Cream Puffs – How to make crackle top cream puffs or choux au craquelin. Fill with ice cream and pour over chocolate sauce.
When we lived in Germany, we lived very close to France. So close that when Wes had the day off and the kids didn’t, we would go to France for lunch and a grocery store trip.
The French grocery store is something to behold. The cheese AISLES. Not one cold aisle, but MULTIPLE aisles of cheese. And butter. And cheese. And creme fraiche. So many delicious creamy dairy things.
On one of these trips, we stopped at Hippopotamus. It is a French restaurant chain. I didn’t think that they existed in France, but in Europe, restaurants aren’t open all the time like they are in the states. It was between lunch and dinner and we were really hungry, and it was open. We figured why not?
At the time, Wes and I were 100% vegetarian (we are now 98%) and it is a French Outback Steak House. Do you know what’s funny about being a vegetarian and steak houses? It’s usually one of the easiest places for us to eat. They have great sides.
We had such a great lunch, baked potatoes, herbed creme fraiche, grilled asparagus, mushrooms, but what I really remember from that day is the dessert.
I love profiteroles, if they are on a menu, they will be ordered.
At Hippopotamus, they had one really large puff with a crackle top filled with ice cream and a dark chocolate sauce to pour over.
I had never heard of a crackle top cream puffs before this and my mind was blown. It reminds me of a really thin streusel on top of a choux pastry. It adds sweetness and crunch and is heavenly.
When I got home, I decided that I needed to figure out how to make it myself. Turns out, it’s pretty easy.
These take some time but are not hard to make. In fact, I think they are really fun to make. This a perfect thing to make for Valentine’s dinner or a special occasion. Or just if you feel like baking something a little extra special.
How to Make Choux au Craquelin
You start by making the crackle top. Dorie includes very specific instructions and if you follow them, not surprisingly, the recipes work.
Set out your butter for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, cut the butter into small pieces and add the rest of the craquelin ingredients to a food processor. Pulse and turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Bring it together and shape it into a disk.
Roll the disk into between two pieces of parchment into 1/16th thickness. Put this into the freezer for two hours.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425°. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.
To make the choux paste, bring the milk, butter, and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. When it is rolling, add the flour all at once, and stir until it pulls from the sides and leaves a film on the sides and bottom of the pan. Stir for another minute.
Add the dough to a stand mixer. Let it cool for a couple of minutes. Turn it on low and add the eggs one at a time. It might not look like it is going to come together, it will! The dough should be smooth and thick.
Add the batter to a piping bag and pipe onto the baking sheets. Leave about two inches between the puffs.
Cut out the crackle tops with a cutter about the same size as the puff. Add a frozen disk to the top.
Bake for 20 minutes, rotate pans and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Tips for to Making Crackle Top Cream Puffs
- The crackle needs to be started at least two hours before you start the cream puffs. Or it can be frozen for up to 2 months.
- You can freeze unbaked puffs and crackle tops. Pipe them onto baking sheets, freeze solid, then transfer to a freezer bag. Bake from frozen, adding more time if needed.
- You can also freeze baked puffs, reheat in a 375° oven for 5 to 8 minutes.
- Baked puffs are best eaten the day they are made.
These are so amazing and I hope that you give them a try. These are so fun to bake and when you put a platter of crackle top cream puffs in front of someone, they are super impressed.
I like mine with vanilla ice cream, but salted caramel would be insane and go so well with the crackle top, obviously chocolate ice cream, or strawberry. Honestly, I don’t think that anything would be wrong in here.
Crackle Top Cream Puffs
- 4 1/2 Tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- Pinch sea salt
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 8 Tablespoons butter
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs room temperature
- Vanilla Ice Cream
- Chocolate Sauce
- 10 minutes before you make the crackle top, take the butter out of the fridge. After 10 minutes, cut the butter into small pieces. Add the butter pieces, brown sugar, salt, and pulse in a food processor until almost blended. Add flour and pulse until it looks like curds or pebbles. Pulse in the vanilla.
- Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Bring the plastic wrap together until the crumbs together. Shape the dough into a disk. Place the disk between two sheets of parchment or wax paper. Roll out to 1/16th of an inch. Keep the dough in the paper and transfer to a baking sheet and freeze for two hours.
- To make the cream puffs, preheat the oven to 425°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Bring the milk, water, butter, and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. When it comes to a rolling boil, add the flour all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon. It will come together and pull away from the sides of the pan and leave a film on the bottom and sides of the pan. Keep stirring for another minute. The dough should be smooth. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Let the dough cool for a few minutes. Turn the mixer on low and add the eggs, one at time, making sure that the egg is incorporated before you add the next. The dough might look like it isn’t going to come together, but it will. By the last egg, the dough should be smooth and thick.
- Add the dough to a piping bag, (you can use a cookie scoop, but I like the piping bag best) and pipe onto the baking sheets, leaving two inches between the puffs.
- Cut out the crackle top into rounds about the same size as the puff. Add a frozen disk to the top of each puff.
- Immediately, place the baking sheets in the oven, reduce heat to 375°. Bake the puffs for 20 minutes, rotate pans from top to bottom, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. The puffs will be golden brown, and feel hollow when you tap on them. Cool on a cooling rack.
- Slice the puffs and fill with ice cream and drizzle with chocolate sauce.