Choux au Craquelin: Cream Puffs with Streusel Topping

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Step into the kitchen and discover the art of making Choux au Craquelin. This recipe takes the beloved cream puff to the next level with a crunchy, sweet streusel topping – a must-try for dessert enthusiasts!

Cream puff with streusel top

Recipe At a Glance

Choux au craquelin, or cream puffs with streusel topping, may sound fancy and require a bit more effort than your regular cream puffs, but the addition of streusel on top of the choux pastry bring them to a new level.

(You can also make eclairs with the same streusel topping in exactly the same way.)

When it comes to difficulty, the most challenging part might be freezing and cutting the crumb topping disks for the cream puffs. The streusel warms up quickly at room temperature, making it tricky to cut and remove the excess. This can be particularly challenging if you’re not used to cutting shapes out of semi-frozen streusel.

Aside from that, the recipe is straightforward and the outcome is impressive.

Tip: If you’re new to baking and haven’t worked with choux pastry before, it’s a good idea to start with making regular cream puffs before attempting this version.

As always, if this is your first time making choux au craquelin, make sure to read the ingredient notes, step-by-step instructions, and tips thoroughly. If you’re already experienced, feel free to skip ahead to the recipe card.

Ingredients Notes and Substitutes

Chocolate Choux Pastry

Chocolate choux pastry ingredients
  • Water and milk. This combo makes a better-tasting choux pastry than one that uses only water.
  • All-purpose flour.
  • Cocoa powder. Darkens the pastry and adds that chocolate flavor. A little goes a long way.
  • Unsalted butter.
  • Eggs.
  • Salt and sugar. These make classic choux pastry (which is pretty tasteless) actually taste good on its own.

Streusel Topping

Streusel topping ingredients
  • Unsalted butter.
  • All-purpose flour.
  • Brown sugar. You can use white sugar instead of brown sugar.

Filling

  • Heavy cream.
  • Powdered sugar.
  • Instant pudding mix. We use this to stabilize the whipped cream. This is particularly useful if you plan to slice the cream puffs in half and pipe a generous layer of whipped cream between the two halves. If you’re piping the cream into the puffs without cutting, stabilizing the whipped cream isn’t necessary.

How to Make Choux au Craquelin

I’ve broken down the recipe into clear steps, but feel free to shuffle them as you like.

My usual routine is to prepare the crumb topping first and freeze it. Then, I make the choux pastry, cut out the crumb topping, and place it back in the freezer. Next, I pipe the puffs, top them with the frozen streusel, and get the filling ready while they bake.

Step 1: Make Crumb Topping

(For more detailed information and tips on crumb topping, check out my article on streusel topping.)

  1. Warm up the butter. Take the butter out, chop it into cubes, and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour. We want it nice and soft. Skip if you’re in a hurry.
  2. Mix dry ingredients. Grab a medium bowl and mix your sugar and flour in there.
  3. Add butter. Now add that room-temperature butter to the mix and mix the ingredients together using a fork until you achieve a homogeneous mass. A mixer will also do the trick.
  1. Roll out. Sandwich your dough between two sheets of parchment paper or silicone mats, and roll it out thin – aiming for about 1/10 inch or 2 to 3mm thick. When it starts getting tough to roll, peel off the top layer, place it on your work surface, and then flip the dough over onto it. Finish by peeling off and placing back the other layer. Repeat whenever it gets hard to roll.
  1. Refrigerate. Pop the rolled-out dough, still between the sheets, in the fridge for about 30 minutes. For best results, place it on something that will retain a low temperature for longer, like a cutting board.
  2. Cut. Be quick here because the dough softens fast. Cut it into disks slightly larger than your puffs will be. Once all the necessary shapes are cut out, gather the remaining streusel scraps using a pairing knife or an offset spatula, form them into a ball and roll it out or freeze for next time.
  1. Back to the cold (optional). If time allows, refrigerate the cut streusel for 10 to 15 minutes so it doesn’t break when you’re transferring the shapes onto the puffs. You can prepare the streusel the day before you need it and leave it overnight in the fridge.

Step 2: Make Choux Pastry

(Read my article on choux pastry for a more detailed description and tips on working with choux pastry!)

  1. Preheat the oven. Start by preheating your oven to 390°F (200°C).
  2. Melt the butter and bring to a boil. In a pot, combine butter, milk, water, salt, and sugar, then bring the mixture to a boil, ensuring the butter is fully melted.
  1. Add the flour and cocoa. Take the pot off the heat, add all the flour and cocoa (mixed) to the mixture at once and give it a quick stir until it roughly combines. Bring the pot back to the stove and continue stirring with a spoon over low heat. The dough will thicken and clump quickly, but you should continue stirring the mixture for 2-3 minutes, making sure all the flour is incorporated and there are no white floury spots inside. While stirring, scrape the dough from the sides and bottom to prevent sticking. After 2-3 minutes, the dough should be glossy and easy to detach from the pot, and a thin layer, or film, should form on the bottom of the pot.
  1. Transfer. Move the dough to a mixing bowl and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Spreading it across the bowl can speed up cooling.
Spread dough across the bowl to cool
Spread dough across the bowl to cool
  1. Prepare the eggs. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk them.
  2. Make dough. Once the dough has cooled slightly, start mixing it with a hand mixer at medium speed. After 20-30 seconds of mixing, add half the eggs to the dough and mix until incorporated. Repeat by adding half of the leftover egg mixture. Now it’s time to get the dough to the right consistency: you want it thick enough to hold its shape, but still pipeable. The best way to check for that is the V-Shape test: Dip your mixer whisks or spatula into the dough and lift it. The dough should slowly fall off, eventually leaving a piece of dough hanging that forms a characteristic ‘V’ shape or a triangle at the end of the whisk or spatula. If the dough is not there yet, continue adding the eggs bit by bit and checking the consistency.

Step 3: Pipe and Bake Cream Puffs

  1. Prepare the baking tray. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Optionally, draw 2-inch circles on the underside of the parchment as guides, spaced about 1 1/5 inches apart, for uniformly sized cream puffs.
  2. Set up for piping. Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a round tip or use a plastic food bag with a corner cut off.
  1. Pipe the dough. Start by holding your piping bag with a round tip vertically above the baking sheet. Begin piping by gently squeezing the bag, letting the pastry build into a mound. As you form the mound, lift the bag up slowly, still squeezing, to let the pastry stack upon itself. Keep the tip partially in the forming mound, guiding it to expand up and out. Aim for about 3/4 inch in height and 2 inches in diameter. To finish, stop squeezing and smoothly pull the tip up and away, leaving a small peak. You can lightly pat this down with a damp finger.
Pipe dough onto the tray with steady pressure
  1. Add streusel. Once the puffs are piped, take the crumb topping discs from the fridge and place one on top of each piped mound, pressing gently.
  1. Bake. Place the tray in the preheated oven, then immediately reduce the temperature to 356°F (180°C). Bake for 40 minutes. Open the door a tiny bit (and leave them open) for the last 5 minutes for any buildup steam to escape. If the puffs start to brown before the 35-minute mark, lower the temperature to 320°F (or 160°C).
  2. Cool. Remove the puffs from the oven, and let them cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes.
Let puffs cool for at least 15 minutes

Step 4: Make Whipped Cream

  1. Prep. Combine cold cream, instant pudding powder, and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Skip the instant pudding if you don’t want to stabilize the whipped cream.
  2. Whip. Beat everything on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Step 5: Pipe & Serve

  1. Pipe. Fill the puffs with whipped cream using a bismark piping tip, or cut the puffs in half and pipe the cream onto the bottom half before replacing the top. If going with the second option, be as generous as you like.
  1. Serve. Enjoy the cream puffs with streusel topping immediately for the best taste and texture.
Cream filled puffs

Variations

The version that I cover here is a super simple one with whipped cream as the filling. Here are some other options to try:

Streusel-coated cream puffs filled with raspberry pastry cream
Streusel-coated cream puffs filled with raspberry pastry cream

Storage

Filled choux au craquelin stay safe for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge. That said, the choux pastry shell becomes soggy after only a couple of hours of storage, so their quality is noticeably worse even the very next day.

Cream puff with streusel top

Choux au Craquelin (Cream Puffs with Streusel Topping)

Step into the kitchen and discover the art of making Choux au Craquelin. This recipe takes the beloved cream puff to the next level with a crunchy, sweet streusel topping – a must-try for dessert enthusiasts!
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Piping Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Baked Goods, Choux Pastry, Cream Puffs, Crumb Topping, Pâte à Choux
Servings: 16 cream puffs with streusel topping

Ingredients

Chocolate Choux Pastry:

  • ¼ cup water 60 ml
  • ¼ cup milk 60 ml
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter 1½ oz or ~45 g
  • oz all-purpose flour ~63 g
  • ¼ oz cocoa powder ~7g
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • tsp sugar 5g
  • 2 medium eggs ~95g after cracking

Streusel Topping:

  • 2 oz unsalted butter 4 tbsp or 61g
  • 2 oz all-purpose flour 1/2 cup or 61g
  • 2 oz light brown sugar 1/4 cup or 61g

Whipped Cream (double if you want to be generous):

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream chilled, 480g
  • 2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding double that if you want it super thick
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar add more if desired

Instructions

Streusel:

  • Soften Butter: Cut the butter into cubes and let it soften at room temperature for about an hour.
    2 oz unsalted butter
  • Mix Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, combine sugar and flour.
    2 oz all-purpose flour, 2 oz light brown sugar
  • Add Butter: Incorporate the softened butter using a fork or mixer until evenly mixed.
  • Roll Out Dough: Between parchment papers, roll dough to a thickness of 2-3mm. Peel and replace paper as needed for easier rolling.
  • Refrigerate: Refrigerate the rolled dough (still between sheets) for about 30 minutes, ideally on a cutting board that will retain temperature for longer.
  • Cut Shapes: Cut the dough into 1.5 to 2-inch disks quickly before it softens, remove the excess, and return the disks to the fridge.

Choux Pastry:

  • Preheat Oven: Heat oven to 390°F (200°C).
  • Boil Butter Mixture: In a pot, mix butter, milk, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil, ensuring the butter melts completely.
    ¼ cup water, ¼ cup milk, 3 tbsp unsalted butter, ¼ tsp salt, 1¼ tsp sugar
  • Add Flour: Off the heat, add flour and cocoa powder (mixed) all at once and stir. Return to low heat, stirring continuously for 2-3 minutes until the dough is thick, glossy, and leaves a thin film on the pot bottom.
    ¼ oz cocoa powder, 2¼ oz all-purpose flour
  • Cool Dough: Transfer dough to a bowl and let it cool for 10 minutes, spreading it out to cool faster.
  • Whisk Eggs: Beat eggs in a separate bowl.
    2 medium eggs
  • Mix Dough: With the dough slightly cooled, mix with a hand mixer. Gradually add half the eggs, mix, then add the remaining eggs bit by bit until the dough forms a 'V' shape when lifted with a whisk or spatula.

Bake:

  • Prepare Tray: Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  • Pipe Dough: Fill a piping bag and pipe dough onto the tray in 2-inch mounds, leaving 1¼ inches space between each.
  • Add Streusel: Place refrigerated streusel discs on each dough mound.
  • Bake: Place the baking tray in the oven, immediately reduce temperature to 356°F (180°C), and bake for 40 minutes until slightly browned. Open the oven door slightly for the last 5 minutes of baking.

Whipped Cream:

  • Mix Ingredients: Whip cold cream, instant pudding powder, and powdered sugar until stiff.
    2 cups heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding, 4 tablespoons powdered sugar

Assembly:

  • Pipe Cream: Pipe whipped cream right into each puff or cut them in half and pipe the cream onto the bottoms.
  • Serve: Enjoy the cream puffs immediately for best taste.
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