Delicious Tiramisu Cream Puffs

Whip up a batch of these exquisite tiramisu cream puffs to impress at your next gathering; featuring a crunchy streusel topping, a hint of coffee, and lush mascarpone cream, they’re a gourmet treat right from your own kitchen!

Crunchy tiramisu cream puffs

Recipe At a Glance

You can make tiramisu cream puffs in several ways. Here’s my version: choux pastry topped with crumb topping and filled with coffee pastry cream and mascarpone cream, and dusted with cocoa powder.

I’m not a tiramisu expert, but It checks all the tiramisu boxes:

  • It has a crunchy layer (streusel topping)
  • There’s a hint of coffee (coffee pastry cream)
  • There’s a generous amount of mascarpone (mascarpone cream layer)
  • It’s finished with a dusting of cocoa powder
Tiramisu cream puff anatomy
Tiramisu cream puff anatomy

The dessert is delicious and easy to make, though a bit time-consuming. If you love tiramisu and are looking for an alternative, this recipe is definitely worth the effort.

Later in the article, I also cover a couple of ideas on how to simplify the recipe. This way, if you’re short on time or the setup feels overwhelming, you can adjust and still end up with something tasty.

That’s all you need to know for now. Let’s dive right in.

If you’re making these tiramisu cream puffs for the first time, please read the ingredients notes, step-by-step instructions, and tips. If this isn’t your first rodeo, jump to the recipe card.

Ingredients Notes and Substitutes

Cream Puffs

Modern choux pastry ingredients
  • Water and milk. Full-fat milk works best, but skim should work in a pinch. I wouldn’t experiment with vegan milk, as it might alter the flavor of the choux. It’s better to use just water instead.
  • All-purpose flour.
  • Unsalted butter.
  • Eggs.
  • Salt and sugar. Sugar alternatives are perfectly fine.

Crumb Topping

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

Coffee Pastry Cream

Coffee pastry cream ingredients
  • Milk: Whole fat is best, but skim is also okay. Milk alternatives work well, though they may slightly alter the final flavor. If using one with added sugar, reduce the sugar amount in the recipe by half. You can use a coffee-flavored milk alternative and omit the instant coffee.
  • Cornstarch: Cornstarch is the best option for thickening the cream. You can substitute it with half the amount of potato starch, but allow the cooked milk mixture to cool slightly before adding it to the eggs to prevent premature thickening. For more information, check out my article on cornstarch versus potato starch.
  • Sugar: Regular white sugar is okay, and brown sugar is a great alternative if you like it with coffee. Sugar substitutes are also OK.
  • Instant Coffee: This is our primary flavoring. It’s convenient and doesn’t require brewing. Substitute with half the amount of espresso powder if needed. If you want to use regular coffee, read my coffee pastry cream article.
  • Vanilla Extract: Optional but recommended for enhancing flavor. A little goes a long way.
  • Unsalted Butter.

Mascarpone Cream

Tiramisu cream puffs ingredients
  • Mascarpone: Some recipes say you could sub cream cheese for mascarpone, but you’ll miss out on flavor big time. It’s much better to splurge on the mascarpone than settle with cream cheese.
  • Heavy cream: The same you usually buy for whipping.
  • Egg Yolks: A couple of egg yolks bring additional flavor to the cream. You can skip these if you can’t be bothered with whipping yolks in a double boiler, though you’ll miss out on flavor. If you’re skipping yolks, increase the amounts of other ingredients by 25 percent to have enough cream.
  • Sugar: Regular white sugar is fine.

How to Make Tiramisu Cream Puffs

Here’s a brief overview:

  1. We make the pastry cream first, allowing it to chill before we pipe it into our puffs.
  2. We prep the streusel and the choux pastry, combine them, and bake the puffs.
  3. While the puffs are baking, we prepare the mascarpone cream.
  4. Once the puffs have cooled slightly, we cut the tops, add a layer of coffee pastry cream to each, fill the remaining space with mascarpone cream, replace the tops, and dust them with cocoa powder.

Let’s get into the details.

Step 1: Make Coffee Pastry Cream

(Check out my coffee pastry cream piece for tips and info on using ground coffee or coffee beans instead of instant coffee.)

  1. Boil Coffee and Milk: Measure the milk into a pot and stir in the vanilla extract, instant coffee, and half the sugar. Bring the mixture almost to a boil.
Mixing the ingredients
Mix the ingredients and heat until nearly boiling
  1. Prep Yolks: Whisk the yolks in a large bowl while the milk is heating. Then, stir in the cornstarch and the remaining sugar. Set aside.
Mix the egg yolks, cornstarch, and sugar
Mix the egg yolks, cornstarch, and sugar
  1. Temper Eggs: As the milk approaches boiling, remove it from the heat. Gradually pour a few tablespoons of the hot milk into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the yolks from curdling. Repeat this process 3 to 4 times until all the milk is incorporated. Keep stirring throughout.
Pouring warm milk into the mixture
Gradually pour the warm mixture into the egg
  1. Cook Until Thick and Bubbly: Return the combined mixture to the pot used for the milk. Cook over low or medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and bubbles. Depending on the pot and heat intensity, this usually takes 2 to 4 minutes. Avoid rushing to prevent the yolks from curdling.
  1. Take Off the Heat and Whisk: Once thick, remove the pot from the heat and continue whisking for about a minute to bring the mixture past the point of maximum thickness.
  2. Stir in Butter: Add the butter to the pot and stir until it melts and fully integrates into the cream.
  1. Taste Test: Taste the cream (carefully, as it’s hot) and add more sugar or instant coffee if needed. The heat should melt both sugar and instant coffee granules quickly.
  2. Cover and Chill: Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a crust from forming. Let it cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, then refrigerate (still covered) for at least an hour so that it thickens at least a bit before piping. You can also prep the pastry cream a day earlier, which is what I usually do.
Cover the coffee pastry cream
Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill

Step 2: 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. Add that room-temperature butter to the mix and mix the ingredients 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 putting the other layer back. 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. That’s when you can start working on choux pastry. For best results, place the rolled-out dough on something that will retain a low temperature for longer, like a cutting board.
  2. Cut. Once the dough is nice and cold, cut it into disks slightly larger than your puffs. Once you cut out all the necessary shapes, 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. Be quick here because the dough softens fast.
  1. Back to the cold (optional). If time allows, refrigerate the cut streusel for 10 to 15 minutes so it doesn’t break when 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 3: 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 and ensure the butter is fully melted.
  1. Add the flour. Take the pot off the heat, add all the flour to the mixture at once, and 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, ensuring all the flour is incorporated and no white floury spots are 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.
  1. Transfer. Move the dough to a mixing bowl and cool for about 10 minutes. Spreading it across the bowl can speed up cooling.
  2. Prepare the eggs. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk them.
Whisk the eggs
Whisk the eggs
  1. 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 V-Shape test is the best way to check for that: 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.
Adding the whisked eggs
Mix at medium speed then gradually add the whisked eggs

Step 4: Pipe and Bake Cream Puffs

(Check out my cream puffs article for more info on making 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.
Cream puffs graphic
Cream puff pastry size
  1. 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.
  2. 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 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 inches 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.
  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.
Wilton 6B piping tip
Add the streusel on top of each piped mound and gently press
  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, let them cool for 10 minutes, then carefully detach them from the parchment paper or silicone mat and let them cool on a wire rack for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 5: Make Mascarpone Cream

You can prep the cream while the puffs are baking.

  1. Whip mascarpone and heavy cream. Combine cold mascarpone cheese and heavy cream in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks. Refrigerate.
  1. Cook yolks in a double boiler. Fill a pot with about 2 inches of water, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl when it’s seated on top. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. In the heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar. Place the bowl over the simmering pot of water, ensuring that the bowl fits snugly and the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk the egg mixture continuously until the mixture pales in color and thickens. The mixture should reach at least 160°F (71°C) to ensure the yolks are safe to eat, which is slightly warmer than needed for the yolk to thicken. Because of that, I suggest cooking the yolk mixture for an extra 1 to 2 minutes after thickening for extra safety.
  1. Whip the yolk mixture. Grab a hand mixer and whip the cooked yolks for 1 to 2 minutes. The volume of the mixture should increase, and the mixture itself should become creamier. Thanks to the whipping, the yolks’ temperature will be close to room temperature by now, and they’ll be ready to be added to the whipped mascarpone and heavy cream.
Whipping the yolk mixture
Whip the cooked yolk mixture with a hand mixer for 1-2 minutes
  1. Combine. Pour the whipped yolk mixture into the mascarpone and heavy cream you set aside earlier. Whip to incorporate. You should have a mousse-like consistency, though it’s perfectly fine if it resembles whipped cream at soft peaks stage.

Step 6: Assemble Tiramisu Cream Puffs

  1. Whisk pastry cream: Remove the pastry cream from the fridge. If it’s been there for at least 5+ hours, the pastry cream will look like stiff pudding. This is normal. Start by “chopping” it with a fork, then switch to a whisk and stir until it becomes somewhat smooth.
  1. Cut tops. Cut the top off of each puff. Make sure the hole is large so that it’s easy to pipe and layer both creams. Put the tops near their bases so it’s easy to replace them without guessing which top belongs to which base.
  2. Pipe coffee pastry cream. Pour a bit of the cream into each puff, up to about one-third of its height. That’s enough to make the coffee flavor noticeable but not overwhelming. Using a piping bag with a round tip makes it easy.
  3. Add mascarpone cream. Fill the remaining space in each puff with mascarpone cream. I like to add the cream slightly above the cut line, making a small dome of cream above the edge of the base. This way, when I replace the top, the cream helps to secure it in place.
  1. Replace tops. Now that each puff is filled, you simply replace the tops.
  2. Dust with cocoa powder.
Tiramisu puffs dusted with cocoa powder
Finish by dusting them with cocoa powder
  1. Serve.
Tiramisu cream puffs dusted with cocoa powder
Tiramisu cream puffs dusted with cocoa powder

Variations

Here are some ideas for modifying this recipe according to your needs and time constraints.

Simplify

  • Skip Crumb Topping: Crumb topping adds a delightful crunch to the puffs, but making it takes a while and is a bit of a pain. You can skip that and just dust the puffs with cocoa powder or make a simple chocolate ganache (that takes 10 minutes to make and some waiting until it cools down) as I did in my vanilla cream puffs recipe.
  • Replace Coffee Pastry Cream with Coffee Whipped Cream: Warm up (don’t bring to a boil) a couple of teaspoons of heavy cream, dissolve the instant coffee, then cool it down in the fridge. Combine the coffee-flavored heavy cream with regular heavy cream and whip until stiff peaks. If going this route, add the mascarpone mousse first (as it’s heavier than the whipped cream), and top it with the whipped cream. For this option, you’ll need about 3/4 cup of heavy cream, 3 tbsp of powdered sugar, and less than one tsp of instant coffee.
Crunchy streusel-topped tiramisu cream puffs

Elevate

  • Use Chocolate Choux Pastry: For more of a mocha flavor, bake the chocolate version of the choux pastry instead. That means replacing three teaspoons of flour with three teaspoons of cocoa powder and mixing the two before you add them to the water and butter mixture. I cover this choux pastry in my Choux au Craquelin article.
Streusel-topped tiramisu cream puffs
Streusel-topped tiramisu cream puffs

Storage

You can store these cream puffs in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Make sure the container is sealed tightly so they don’t absorb any smells.

That said, please note that the mascarpone cream might start becoming watery after a day or two, and the overall quality of the puff will drop. Second, the crumb topping is going to be nice and crunchy only on the day you bake it. The next day, it’ll likely lose most of its crunch because the puff will absorb some of the moisture from the mascarpone cream.

Crunchy tiramisu cream puffs

Tiramisu Cream Puffs

Whip up a batch of these exquisite tiramisu cream puffs to impress at your next gathering; featuring a crunchy streusel topping, a hint of coffee, and lush mascarpone cream, they’re a gourmet treat right from your own kitchen!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French, Italian
Keyword: Coffee, Cream Patisserie, Cream Puffs, Custard, Filling, Mascarpone, Pastry Cream, Tiramisu Cream Puffs
Servings: 16 tiramisu cream puffs

Equipment

  • whisk
  • Stand mixer

Ingredients

Coffee Pastry Cream:

  • 1 cup milk ~240g
  • 2 egg yolks medium or large (about 30-35g)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch ~20g
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar ~44g
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee ~2g
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter ~14g

Choux Pastry:

  • ¼ cup water ~60 ml
  • ¼ cup milk ~60 ml
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter ~45 g
  • oz all-purpose flour ~70 g
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • tsp sugar
  • 2 large 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

Mascarpone Cream:

  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese ~226g
  • 2/3 cups heavy cream ~160g
  • 2 egg yolks medium or large (about 30-35g)
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Instructions

Coffee Pastry Cream

  • Boil Milk: In a pot, mix milk with instant coffee, vanilla extract and half the sugar, and heat until almost boiling.
  • Prep Yolks: Whisk yolks in a bowl, then mix in cornstarch and the remaining sugar.
  • Temper Eggs: Gradually add a few tablespoons of hot milk to the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to avoid curdling. Repeat until all milk is incorporated.
  • Thicken Cream: Return mixture to the pot and cook on low/medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and bubbles (2-4 minutes).
  • Off Heat Whisking: Once thick, remove from heat and whisk for another minute.
  • Add Butter: Stir butter into the mixture until melted and integrated.
  • Taste and Adjust: Taste the cream and add more sugar or vanilla if needed.
  • Chill: Cover with plastic wrap touching the cream’s surface to avoid crust formation. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate.

Streusel:

  • Soften Butter: Cut the butter into cubes and let it soften at room temperature for about an hour.
  • Mix Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, combine sugar and flour.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Mascarpone Cream:

  • Whip Creams: Combine cold mascarpone and heavy cream then whip to soft peaks. Refrigerate.
  • Cook Yolks: Over a simmering double boiler, continuously whisk egg yolks and sugar until the mix thickens. Whisk for another 2 minutes after the mix thickens to ensure safety, then take off the heat.
  • Whip Yolks: Whip the cooked yolks until creamy and expanded.
  • Combine Mixtures: Fold the whipped yolks into the chilled cream mixture, then whip for a minute or two. You should achieve a smooth, mousse-like consistency.

Assembly:

  • Prep Pastry Cream: Stir the refrigerated pastry cream until smooth and pliable.
  • Cut Puffs: Slice off the top of each puff to create an opening for the creams.
  • Add Coffee Cream: Pipe the coffee pastry cream into each puff, filling about a third of the cavity.
  • Insert Mascarpone Cream: Top off with mascarpone cream, slightly overfilling for a dome appearance.
  • Close Puffs: Replace the tops of the puffs, pressing lightly to seal with the cream.
  • Dust and Serve: Finish with a light dusting of cocoa powder and serve immediately.
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