These Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs or Vanilla Bean Choux au Craquelin are the perfect dessert. Crispy cream puffs are topped with a layer of craquelin and filled with a simple Vanilla Bean diplomat cream. This ultimate guide to making cream puffs walks you through all the steps, so that you too can make your very own homemade cream puffs.
Thank you so much to Heilala Vanilla for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own. You can use the code CLOUDY20 for a 20% discount in their online store. Enjoy!
Table of contents
- Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs / Vanilla Bean Choux au Craquelin
- How to bake with Choux Pastry
- What is Craquelin?
- What is Diplomat Cream?
- How to make Cream Puffs
- Baking with Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste
- Double fold vs Single fold Vanilla Bean Paste
- Sample Schedule for breaking up the workload
- How to Freeze Cream Puffs
- The importance of the "Just in case" egg
- Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs FAQ
- For more recipes featuring Heilala Vanilla Bean paste, check out:
- Made this recipe and love it?
- A note on salt and oven temperature
- Why is this recipe in grams?
Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs / Vanilla Bean Choux au Craquelin
Hi hi! Just popping in here to share this recipe for Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs / Choux au Craquelin with you! I wrote a wee e-book for Heilala Vanilla back in 2019 and we thought it would be fun to share this recipe here with you to show off their Vanilla Bean Paste. The Paste has been a favourite ingredient in my kitchen for many many years now. If you've been here for a while you know how much I love all things Vanilla, so I am so excited to share this one! These Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs are extra delicious. They are filled with a Vanilla Bean diplomat cream which is super easy to make and just so, so good.
How to bake with Choux Pastry
Choux pastry is one of my favourite things to make, particularly because of how verstaile it is. You can pipe it into rings and fry for crullers or bake for Paris Brest, make it into eclairs, add cheese for gougeres, cover with pearl sugar for chouquettes, or pipe into mounds for cream puffs. If you add a layer of craquelin these become Choux au Craquelin, which might be my very favourite thing to do with choux pastry.
What is Craquelin?
Craquelin is basically a super simple cookie dough, made of butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and flour. You roll it out thin, then freeze it, and then use a cookie cutter to cut out discs. The discs get put onto the piped out choux pastry. When they bake, it melts down the sides of the cream puff to form the most perfect crackly layer. It tastes amazing but also gives an incredible texture and look to the cream puff. Such a simple concept but it just works so, so well.
What is Diplomat Cream?
These Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs are filled with a Vanilla Diplomat Cream, which is a pastry cream that has been lightened with whipped cream. It is super easy to make - you can make the pastry cream ahead of time. The recipe can be easily scaled as it is just a ratio of 1 part cream to 2 parts pastry cream by weight, so you can just weigh out however much pastry cream you have and then whip up half the weight of that in whipped cream and combine them together for a perfect filling. These Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs are also so, so good just filled with a little lightly sweetened vanilla bean whipped cream.
How to make Cream Puffs
There are a few steps to making these Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs, but the workload can easily be broken up. You can make the craquelin and pastry cream the day before, or the empty cream puffs can be frozen ahead of time too.
- Make the Pastry Cream - These Cream Puffs are filled with a diplomat cream, which is pastry cream lightened with whipped cream. The pastry cream is a simple egg custard, thickened with a little corn starch. Make this ahead of time so it has time to chill down.
- Prepare the Craquelin - This is super easy to make - you can just mix everything together in the bowl of your mixer and then roll it out between two pieces of parchment. I use pre-cut parchment which is 13"x18" and use that as a guide for how big to roll out the craquelin. Using two pieces helps to keep everything nice and smooth!
- Make the Choux Pastry - Choux pastry is made by making a 'roux' from milk, water, butter, and flour. It is then cooled and egg is incorporated into it. Once you get the hang of it, it is super easy to make!
- Assemble the Cream Puffs - Pipe your choux pastry out onto your template. Then cut the craquelin into discs and place on top. Bake until perfectly puffy and golden and then leave to cool!
- Fill the Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs - Make the diplomat cream by combining the pastry cream and whipped cream. Pipe it into the cream puffs. I like to do this fairly close to serving if I can so that the cream puff shell stays crisp and you get a lovely variation in texture between the filling and the shell.
Baking with Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste
Vanilla Bean Paste is one of my forever favourite ingredients. I have had my cupboard stocked with Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste for a few years now. Heilala is a Women owned New Zealand business and they not only produce the most incredible vanilla products, but they are one of the only companies who control the production right from the growing of the vanilla bean to the production of the product. This means that their process is not only sustainable but means that they have an incredible relationship directly with their farmers, and are able to give back to the community at a granular level.
Heilala started in 2002 as a humanitarian project after the Kingdom of Tonga was hit hard by a cyclone, and has since morphed into the most incredible company run by amazing people, making the best vanilla ever. You can read more about them here - I truly cannot express just in words how amazing the company is.
Double fold vs Single fold Vanilla Bean Paste
Heilala has a few different varieties of their Vanilla Bean Paste. The one that I have used for this Vanilla Cream Puff recipe is their single fold, where 1 tsp of paste is equivalent to the seeds of one vanilla bean. The Vanilla Bean Paste is made of the vanilla seeds suspended in vanilla extract, and is the most amazing product. Not only does it give an incredible flavour but you get those perfect vanilla specks throughout your baking. I almost exclusively use the paste now in my kitchen - you can use it wherever vanilla is called for in a recipe. I highly recommend getting the larger size of the paste - you can use the code CLOUDY20 at checkout for 20% off your order.
Heilala also has a double fold variation which is the one that I use often in recipes. It is called double fold as it is double the strength of their single fold, so double the concentration of the vanilla seeds, and the extract base is also double the strength. A jar of their double fold contains the equivalent of 300 vanilla beans, with half a teaspoon of it being equivalent to one vanilla bean. A jar lasts me close to a year with extremely heavy use. This is what is used in high end pastry kitchens which is another thing I love about Heilala - you can get the exact same product that pastry professionals choose to use in their restaurants.
Sample Schedule for breaking up the workload
If you wanted to make parts of these cream puffs ahead of time, here is a sample schedule that you could follow if you liked. I do like to make the pastry cream at least a few hours ahead of time if I can. If you're in a rush to cool it down just pop it into something shallow like a dish or a clean quarter sheet pan. Increasing the surface area means it will cool faster.
- Day One: Make the pastry cream. Prepare the craquelin and roll out and freeze ready for when you make the choux pastry. Both these components can be prepared up to two days ahead.
- Day Two: Make the choux dough and bake off the cream puffs. Leave to cool, make the diplomat cream with the cooled pastry cream and whipped cream, and assemble the cream puffs.
How to Freeze Cream Puffs
If you really want to make these well ahead of time you can freeze the empty cream puff shells. They do tend to go stale fast, so even if you are making them a day ahead of time, store them in the freezer until you are ready to use them. They defrost quickly at room temperature. The freezer helps to keep them nice and fresh. To freeze the cream puffs, place them on a sheet pan and freeze for about 30 minutes, then transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer until ready to use.
To defrost frozen cream puffs, just bring them out and leave them to sit at room temperature to thaw. This should only take 10-15 minutes.
The importance of the "Just in case" egg
I have included an extra 'just in case' egg in the ingredients. Sometimes you need to add extra egg to the pastry if necessary. You want the mixture to be at a consistency where if you dip in the beater of the mixer, the batter will form a 'v' shape and eventually break off. If it is too stiff, and breaks off very quickly, you may need to add another beaten egg. Mix to incorporate and then perform the test again. See the video at the top of the page or my IG highlights for the correct consistency.
Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs FAQ
Yes! Feel free to scale the recipe as you like (this is why we love grams, right!?). However remember the empty cream puffs can be frozen for up to a few months, so you can always just fill half of them and leave the other half for another time if you don't need as many.
Nope! Choux au Craquelin without the craquelin are just regular cream puffs, so leave it off if you like!
You sure can, make these any size that you like. Just remember that they do puff up in the oven, so make sure there is enough space between them when you are piping them out. You just use the same sized cutter you used to trace the template to cut the craquelin, so these are easy to scale.
There are a few reasons your cream puffs might collapse or not puff up properly in the oven. The first is that you may not have cooked out the moisture enough. Make sure you give it a full 2 minutes on the stove. The second is that there is no way for the steam to escape when the puffs are baked. To avoid this I poke a hole in the side of each puff with a knife as soon as they come out to let the steam out.
My oven doesn't have the best track record with baking two trays of things at once, so I usually do one tray at a time. I pipe out all the puffs and then just add the craquelin to one tray and leave the other to sit at room temperature while it bakes. Then once the first tray is done, I bring the oven back up to temperature and add the craquelin to the second tray and bake them off. If your oven can handle two trays then go for it. I just use conventional bake - I haven't tried this with fan bake as I don't trust my oven but if you do, then please report back!
You don't have to - people can make choux by hand, but I haven't tried it so I'm not 100% on what the method would be.
Nope! Fill these with whatever you like. They are so, so good just filled with a little lightly sweetened vanilla bean whipped cream too, or you can slice them in half and make ice cream sandwiches.... You do you here.
For more recipes featuring Heilala Vanilla Bean paste, check out:
Made this recipe and love it?
If you make this Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs recipe, I would LOVE for you to leave me a review below and let me know how you liked it! Make sure to tag me on Instagram if you make it!
A note on salt and oven temperature
It is important to note the type of salt that is called for in a recipe. I use Diamond Crystal salt throughout my recipes - if you use a different sort of kosher salt or regular table salt you will need to adjust accordingly as some salt is 'saltier' than others. Morton's salt is twice as salty, so you will need half the quantity. Same goes for a regular table salt. I am working to get gram measurements throughout my recipes for salt but still getting there.
All oven temperatures are conventional unless otherwise stated. If you are baking on fan, you will need to adjust the temperature. An oven thermometer is a great investment to ensure that your oven is the correct temperature.
Why is this recipe in grams?
I post my recipes in grams because it is the most accurate way to bake. Cups are not only inaccurate but they vary in volume worldwide. There is no way for me to provide one cup measure that works for everyone. Posting in weight fixes this issue. If you would like the recipe in cups, then you are welcome to convert it yourself via google. However, please do not ask me to do it for you as I am not comfortable providing a recipe using a method that I have not tested. Baking with a scale is easy, accurate, and also makes cleanup super simple. Here is the scale that I use if you would like a recommendation! Here's to accurate baking!Print
These Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs or Vanilla Bean Choux au Craquelin are the perfect dessert. Crispy cream puffs are topped with a layer of craquelin and filled with a simple Vanilla Bean diplomat cream.
Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream
- 110g granulated sugar
- 45g cornstarch
- 135g egg yolks
- 1 ½ tsp Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste
- ½ tsp salt
- 550g whole milk
- 30g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 350g heavy whipping cream, for making diplomat cream
- 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 120g all-purpose flour
- 120g dark brown sugar
- ½ tsp Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste
- 125g whole milk
- 125g water
- 110g unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste
- 15g Sugar
- 165g All-purpose flour
- 240g eggs, lightly beaten, plus more if required (see recipe)
VANILLA BEAN PASTRY CREAM
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Add the egg yolks, Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste, and salt. Whisk well to combine.
- In a medium pot, warm the milk until there is movement just around the edges of the milk - do not bring it to a boil.
- Remove the milk from the heat, and, whisking constantly, add half of the milk mixture into the egg and cornstarch mixture to temper the egg yolks. Whisk briskly for 30 seconds. Transfer the milk-yolk mixture back to the pot, and return to a medium heat. Whisk constantly until very thick.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, mixing well until totally combined. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Strain into a container and transfer to an airtight container and press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream. Refrigerate until totally cold. Can be made up to 2 days in advance - see 'assembly' for instructions on making diplomat cream.
- Place all ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium until combined. Turn out the dough onto a large piece of parchment paper, and top with a second piece. Roll out to 1-2mm in thickness. Place the dough, still between the parchment sheets, in the freezer for an hour, or until ready to use (Can be made ahead).
CHOUX AU CRAQUELIN
- Preheat the oven to 400°f / 200°c. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a cookie cutter, trace 1 ½” circles on each baking sheet using a pen or a pencil, leaving some room for spreading (about 2” (5cm) between each), then flip over the baking sheet so that the side with the drawing is facing downward.
- Fit a large piping bag with a large round piping tip (I used an ateco #805)
- In a medium pot, combine the milk, water, butter, salt, Heilala 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. Perform the 'v' test again to check consistency.
- Transfer the choux pastry to the prepared piping bag. Using your traced circle as a guide, pipe mounds onto the baking sheet, ending each with a little flick of your wrist. If the choux has left a point, you can flatten down with a wet fingertip. Repeat with the second tray. If you need another tray to pipe your choux on, create another template using the parchment and a cookie cutter.
- Remove the craquelin from the freezer, and peel off the top piece of parchment. Using the same sized cutter you used to trace the circles on the parchment paper, cut out circles of dough. Place each carefully on top of a mound of choux, pressing lightly to adhere. If you are baking one tray of these at a time, ensure that you only put the craquelin on one tray worth at a time - put the craquelin on the second tray just before you bake them.
- 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 15-20 minutes, until 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 puffs.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Briefly mix up the chilled vanilla pastry cream to loosen, then weigh out 675g pastry cream. Carefully fold the measured pastry cream through the whipped cream, until combined. Transfer to a large piping bag fitted with a Bismarck tip or a round piping tip. Using a chopstick, carefully poke a hole in the bottom of each cream puff.
- Working with one at a time, insert the end of the piping tip into the cream puff, and pipe the diplomat cream in until you feel the cream puff fill and become heavy. It will take a few to get the hang of it - just wipe off any excess that may spill out from over filled puffs.
- Lightly dust the cream puffs with powdered sugar.
- Serve within a few hours of filling. Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container.
I have included an extra 'just in case' egg in the ingredients. The reason that this is in there, is that sometimes you need to add extra egg to the pastry if necessary. You want the mixture to be at a consistency where if you dip in the beater of the mixer, the batter will form a 'v' shape and eventually break off. If it is too stiff, and breaks off very quickly, you may need to add another beaten egg, and mix again, before performing the test.
If you do not want to make the full amount of diplomat cream, the ratio is 2:1 pastry cream to whipped cream by weight, so you are welcome to scale accordingly. Store leftover pastry cream in the fridge and consume within a few days.
Keywords: Cream Puffs, Choux, Choux au Craquelin, Pastry Cream, Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream, Diplomat Cream