These caramel cream puffs are made from light choux pastry, creamy vanilla custard, and a crunchy caramel sugar coating.
What are cream puffs?
Taking a few different names a cream puff is also known as a profiterole, chou a la creme, or choux puff. They are French choux pastry balls filled with whipped cream or pasty cream.
The outer shell is light and crisp and the inside is smooth and creamy. The perfect combination of textures.
Typically profiteroles are dipped in chocolate or a caramel sauce. These cream puffs are dipped in caramel and set to a hard and crunchy shell. The sweet crunchy shell not only adds a crunch element to these, but it also adds a delicious caramelized flavor to compliment the custard.
How to make the perfect caramel top
Caramel is one of those things that are so easy to make, but also so easy to stuff up. One wrong stir or a moment of forgetfulness can turn it into a lumpy or burnt mess. Follow these tips for the perfect caramel shell.
Don't stir in the caramel
One of the most important tips when making caramel is to stir it as little as possible. Stirring the sugar agitates the sugar crystals and causes them to clump up and crystallize.
The moment your sugar starts to crystalize, the other sugar crystals will follow suit, and sooner enough all your caramel will have crystallized too.
If you notice sugar crystals beginning to form on the sides of the pan you can brush them off with a wet pastry brush. This will prevent them from growing.
However, the best way to prevent this is to allow the sugar to dissolve in the pan without stirring it. Simply swirl the pan a couple of times to even out the heat distribution. Once the caramel begins to turn golden you are safe to stir!
Keep an eye on it
Caramel is extremely sensitive to timing. If you forget about it for a couple of minutes there is a possibility that it has already burnt.
Make sure you keep a close eye on your caramel at all times when it's on the heat, even if you think it's taking too long.
Trust me it'll save you the trouble of making it all again!
Remove from the heat as soon as it is golden
The caramel will continue to cook even after taking it off the heat. It's important that you take it off the heat when it turns a light amber. After you take it off it will continue to cook and reach the perfect caramelized color.
If you've accidentally left your caramel on the heat for too long you can place the bottom of the saucepan directly into a bowl of cold water. This will cool the pan right down and prevent it from cooking too much more.
If you do place it in cold water keep in mind that the caramel will set up faster, so you will need to move quickly when dipping your choux pastries.
Ingredients to make caramel choux puffs
- Brown sugar: You can use granulated sugar too, but I like the golden color and caramelized flavor brown sugar brings to the tops of the pastries.
- All-purpose flour: Flour makes up the body of the craquelin which is essentially a cookie that sits on top
- Unsalted butter: Make sure you use unsalted butter otherwise the top of your choux puffs will be too salty!
- Whole milk: Make sure you use whole milk as the difference in fat and protein content in skim or plant-based milk will affect the structure of the pastry
- Water: Water adds moisture to the dough. This is what helps it rise in the oven to that tall and round shape.
- Unsalted butter: Butter helps to give the dough that golden brown color and crisp yet tender texture.
- Salt and sugar: Both are needed to give the pastry flavor, but not necessarily a sweetness or saltiness.
- Flour: The flour makes up the body and structure of the choux puffs.
- Large eggs: Eggs are needed as they bind everything together, while also giving them structure and helping them rise.
Pastry cream or creme patisserie
- Egg yolks: Egg yolks give the custard flavor as well as thickening properties.
- Sugar: Sugar is needed to sweeten the custard. Feel free to increase or decrease the amount of sugar to your taste.
- Cornflour: Aka cornstarch, also acts as a thickener. I prefer using cornflour as it has a lower tendency to clump up in comparison to flour.
- Milk: Milk makes up the body of the custard. I don't recommend substituting whole milk for skim milk or other kinds of milk as the resulting custard won't be as creamy and smooth
- Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract is needed to give it that delicious flavor. Feel free to switch up the extract to something else if you'd like. Almond extract or even a splash of liquor works deliciously!
- Butter: Butter gives the custard that extra silkiness and velvety mouthfeel.
- Thickened or heavy cream: While some cream puffs will be filled with pure pastry cream, I find it too thick and cloying. By folding whipped cream into the pastry cream it creates a light and delicious custard. Whipping cream works too!
- Granulated sugar: This is needed for the caramel! You can also use caster or superfine sugar. The smaller sugar crystals will make it easier for the caramel to form.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do these last?
These will last up to 2 days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. These don't last that long because the choux pastry will begin to absorb the moisture from the cream filling.
The caramel will also absorb any surrounding moisture and begin to get sticky.
How should I store these?
Make sure you store these in an air-tight container in the fridge. They need to be kept chilled as the custard is made from cream, eggs, and milk.
They need to be stored airtight as well to prevent the caramel from absorbing too much moisture and becoming too sticky.
How come my caramel is chewy?
The main reason why the caramel is chewy is if it hadn't been cooked for long enough. The caramel should be a golden amber when the choux puffs are dipped into it. If they aren't quite there yet they will have a hard time setting up to a crunchy shell.
The caramel can also be chewy if the cream puffs have been left out for too long. This causes the caramel to absorb surrounding moisture and become chewy.
How can I keep these fresh for longer?
If you want to keep these fresher I would recommend assembling them at the very last minute. Store the custard and cream puffs separately. When almost ready to serve just assemble them and dip them into the hot caramel.
In a few minutes, the caramel should have hardened and they are ready to be served. This method will keep your pastry and caramel fresh and crispy.
Let's Get Baking
These caramel cream puffs are everything you'll ever want. Sweet, light, creamy, and crunchy. While there are quite a few components to these, you won't regret making them at all!
If you liked this recipe make sure to leave me a comment and rating down below, I would love to know how you went.
Also, don't forget to tag me on Instagram @catherine.desserts and hashtag #cattycakes so I can see and share your desserts. Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, and TikTok for more of my baking creations and updates! Until next time... happy caking!Print
Caramel Choux Puffs
Light choux pastry filled with a creamy vanilla custard coated in a crunchy caramel sugar coating
- Prep Time: 60 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours
- Yield: 12 1x
- Category: Pastry
- Method: Intermediate
- Cuisine: French
One batch Choux au Craquelin recipe
- 65 g Brown sugar (⅓ cup)
- 65 g All Purpose flour (½ cup)
- 65 g Unsalted butter, softened (⅓ cup)
- 50 g Whole milk (3 tbsp 1 tsp)
- 50 g Water (3 tbsp 1 tsp)
- 45g Unsalted butter (3 tbsp 1 tsp)
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of sugar
- 55 g Plain flour (⅓ cup 4 tsp)
- 100 g Beaten egg, approx 2 eggs
- 30 g Egg yolk, approx 2 egg yolks
- 60 g Sugar (4 tbsp 2 tsp)
- 25 g Cornflour/ Cornstarch (3 tbsp 1 tsp)
- 200 g Milk (¾ cup 4 tsp)
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 25 g Butter (2 tbsp)
- 200 g Thickened/Heavy cream (¾ cup 2 tsp)
- Creme Patissiere, prepared and cooled
- 200g Granulated sugar (1 cup)
- 2 tbsp Water
Choux au Craquelin
- Combine brown sugar, flour and butter in a mixing bowl
- Rub the butter into the flour and sugar using your fingertips
- Place between two pieces of parchment paper and use a rolling pin to roll it out to 4mm in thickness
- Cut into 4cm or 1 ½" inch round discs with a cookie cutter and reserve in the freezer until ready for use
- Preheat the oven to 230°C
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Heat milk, water, butter, salt and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium low heat
- When it starts to boil remove from heat and add the flour in one go, mixing vigorously until smooth
- Return to heat and flatten the dough to the bottom of the pan, listening for crackling of the dough without mixing
- Give the pan a shake and when you notice a thin film on the bottom of the pan the dough is sufficiently dry
- Remove from heat
- Using a wooden spoon/spatula beat the dough to let steam evaporate and then cool for 10 minutes
- Slowly add the beaten egg and stir until the dough is smooth, but still holds structure (the batter will form a 'V' or a 'beak' on the spoon/spatula when lifted)
- Pipe 5cm /2 inch round mounds onto the lined baking tray
- Top with a disc of frozen craquelin
- Turn down the oven temperature to 160°C and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown
- Remove from oven and poke a hole in the bottom of each puff to release steam
- Cool on a wire rack
- Heat milk until just boiling in a small saucepan
- Meanwhile, in a medium sized mixing bowl combine egg yolks and sugar, whisking until doubled in volume
- Add the cornflour and mix until combined
- Pour the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk until smooth
- Return the mixture to heat and whisk constantly until thick
- Remove from heat and add butter
- Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, ensuring it touches the surface of the pastry cream
- Cool in fridge until use
- Whisk the cream until medium-stiff peaks are reached
- Add the cooled creme patisserie and whisk until stiff peaks are reached
- Transfer to a piping bag with small round tip
- Reserve in the fridge until use
- Poke a hole at the bottom of each choux puff
- Fill the choux with the creme diplomat
- Place in the fridge as you prepare the caramel
- Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat
- Heat the sugar, swirling the pan occasionally to ensure even heating
- Continue to heat the sugar until it turns a golden brown
- Remove from the heat and working quickly dip the tops of your choux pastries into the caramel
- Place the dipped choux caramel side up on a baking tray lined with parchment paper
- Place in the fridge to set for 30 minutes
Keywords: choux, choux au craquelin, profiterole, choux pastry, cream puff, caramel