Lychee Cream Puffs (Choux au Craquelin)

These lychee cream puffs are one of those recipes that I’ve always wanted to attempt! I love how pretty it is with the possible flavor variations, and even though it take a little extra work to cut out cookie discs, it makes for a super interesting cracked surface that provides crunch and subtle carameley sweetness.

These are lychee flavored – wanted something unique and refreshing instead of usual cream puffs, and played around with ideas like peach. I also almost stuffed in lychee flavored bubbles (the kind you can get in bubbles!) or lychee flavored jelly. There are three main steps of making these choux au craquelin. The choux is a basic choux pastry recipe similar to eclairs here, except I like using bread flour for my eclairs (which provides structure and a stronger ‘bite’) and classic profiteroles usually use all purpose flour for a softer texture. I used a combination for these for this recipe. Essentially, the higher the protein content of the flour (i.e. the closer it is to bread flour), the better the choux will be able to support itself and stay puffy. It tends to be more crisp as well.  I quite liked the results from this and will most likely stick to it!

The actual choux pastry has no sugar in it, and the 5g of salt is very important both for the structure, rise, and flavor. Watch the texture of the batter closely, if necessary you may require additional egg. There are 2 main crucial steps in making choux pastry. The first is cooking the flour-milk-butter mixture in the pan until a dry starchy film forms (around 2 minutes). We are dehydrating the batter in this process, evaporating any water that isn’t trapped in the starch network of the dough that may affect the rise. The other important step is adding the egg. It’s important that you cool down the flour-milk-butter mixture by whipping with a mixer before adding the eggs, and add the eggs (beaten) one at a time. Then to test it out, dip your finger in cold water and drag it through the choux paste. If you are able to get a shiny trough that doesn’t collapse and holds a slight peak, it means that it’s at a good dough hydration.

Ok it sounds a lot more complicated that it actually is, but in my times of making choux pastry there hasn’t really had major issues. It’s more forgiving than it seems! Just watch a youtube video to see for yourself the ideal texture, and follow the tips and tricks from here. Worst comes to worst any imperfections is covered up nicely with the cookie crust, and if it’s flat just fill it with pastry cream.

The cookie topping is a simple pink cookie that will go on top, just place disks on top of each piped pastry and it will mould over nicely. The lychee pastry cream is modified from a Strawberry Pastry Cream that I read online- as with most pastry creams just make a puree with whichever fruit in similar proportions and you have all the flavor variations you can play with. Make the pastry cream base (without the whipped cream) the night before so it has time to cool down before making the crust and lightening it up with whipping cream. Brought it to work on Nurses Day and had more of it on call! Try out this recipe also and enjoy!

Lychee Cookie Choux au Craquelin

Makes 64 cream puffs
Choux au Craquelin recipe from Cloudy Kitchen
Choux Pastry technique from Iron Whisk

Craquelin

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120g all-purpose flour
90g sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Pink food coloring

Choux Pastry

125g whole milk
125g water
110g unsalted butter, cubed
5g Kosher Salt
5g vanilla bean paste
15g Sugar
100g All-purpose flour
65g Bread flour (modified)
240g eggs, lightly beaten

Lychee Pastry Cream adapted from Elmundo Eats

170g lychee
3 egg yolks
36g corn starch
80g sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cup milk (360 ml)
120 ml whipping cream

 

 

To Make Craquelin (aka Cookie Layer Topping)

Place all ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium until combined. Turn out the dough between two large pieces of parchment paper and roll out to 1-2mm thick. Place the dough, in the freezer for an hour

To make Choux au Craquelin (aka Cream Puff shell)

In a medium pot, combine the milk, water, butter, salt, vanilla bean paste, and sugar. Place over medium heat, and stir until the butter has melted and the mixture has begun to boil. Remove from the heat, and add the flour all at once, mixing quickly with a wooden spoon to combine. The mixture will form a thick paste.

Return to the heat, and, stirring constantly, cook the mixture for 2 minutes to help dry it out. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute to help cool down the mixture.

With the mixture running on low, slowly stream in the 240g egg. Mix on medium speed for 4 minutes, or until the egg is fully incorporated. Test the consistency of the batter by dipping in the beater and pulling up. If it forms a v which eventually breaks off, you are good to go. If it seems too stiff, slowly add another beaten egg and mix to incorporate.

Transfer the choux pastry to the prepared piping bag. Pipe mounds onto the baking sheet

Remove the craquelin from the freezer, and peel off the top piece of parchment. Using a cutter or the back of a piping tip, cut out circles of dough. Place each carefully on top of a mound of choux, pressing lightly to adhere.

Bake the cream puffs for 15 min at 400˚F / 200˚C, then turn down the oven to 350˚F / 180˚C, and bake for a further 20 minutes, until the puffs are deeply golden. Remove from the oven and poke a small vent in the side of each using a paring knife or chopstick, to help the steam escape. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely. If baking in two batches, return the oven to 400˚F / 200˚C, and repeat the baking process with the remaining buns.

To make Lychee Pastry Cream

Blend lychees into puree and set aside. In a bowl, add in egg yolks, corn starch, sugar, vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Whisk until the mixture turns pale. Set aside. Pour milk into a pot and heat until it starts to simmer. Take 1/2 cup of the hot milk and slowly pour in the yolk mixture while whisking it.

Pour the whole thing into the pot, together with lychee puree and cook on medium heat until thickened, whisking continuously. Once thickened, sift the custard into a bowl. Place cling film on its surface, covering all. Leave to cool at room temperature and then chill in the fridge for 4 hours.

When ready to assemble, whisk whipping cream until stiff peaks. Add into custard bowl and gently fold everything together.

To Assemble:

Put lychee pastry cream in a piping bag with a small round nozzle. Gently poke a hole at the bottom of a cream puff and pipe the filling in.

These cream puffs are best served immediately after piping the filling in! If you leave them too long, they will absorb the humidity of the filling and start losing the crunchiness of the craquelin. Store in the fridge  but they will also be fine at room temperature (which was what the original recipe recommended!)

 

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