Written by Jenny Chen. Visit her on Instagram at @jennysbreadbaby
It’s almost Lunar New Year season! In just a few weeks, all Asian cultures can come together to celebrate Lunar New Year, which is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional lunar calendar. In Chinese culture, this entails giving out hong bao (red envelopes), watching CCTV with family, and lots of eating! Traditional foods include dumplings, spring rolls, and steamed chicken, hot pot, etc. Famous desserts include nian gao, tang yuan (sesame rice balls), fa gao, and of course Thai Tea Choux Puffs.
These Bibble and Sip inspired choux aux craquelin, aka choux puffs, are PERFECT for the new year! They’re baked with a cookie layer that ‘cracks’ on the surface when baked, leaving an aesthetic, crunchy exterior. Hence the name choux au craquelin! The crunchy top, the soft airy pastry, and the deliciously rich Thai tea infused filling make for the ultimate dessert.
How to Make Choux Pastry
One of the key things I’ve learned from making choux is to use COLD WATER in the beginning and to cut the butter into cubes so that it melts faster. Next, add sugar and stir so that it dissolves completely BEFORE the water boils. Then, as soon as everything comes to a boil, immediately remove it from the heat and add all the flour at once (preferably sifted). Finally, mix and turn until there are no lumps and the dough is smooth. This is important if you don’t want cracked shells later!
If you followed these directions, then your dough should:
- pull away cleanly from the sides of the pan
- leave a thin film on the bottom of the pan
- have no flour clumps
Important Step: EGGS
After your dough has been successfully made, transfer to another bowl and let cool. You don’t want to add the eggs while the dough is too hot as this can cook the eggs and may even make your choux eggy. While waiting for the dough to cool, I suggest whisking the eggs well in a bowl first before adding them to the dough. Whisking them beforehand ensures that you get an even distribution of egg white and yolks being added to the dough at all times.
When incorporating the eggs, your dough may separate and break into chunks. THIS IS OKAY. KEEP WHISKING!
You’ll know when the choux pastry is fully done when you get that signature ‘V’ shape. As a guide, when the spoon or whisk is lifted out of the dough, a ‘V‘ should be left hanging from the end of the spoon. This suggests that the mixture is just a bit thicker than the dropping consistency. If you have that, then you’ve now got yourself some beautiful choux pastry dough. Just pipe and bake!
- Taste: ★★★★★
- Difficulty: ★★★
- Ingredients: ★★★
- Time: 45 min (assembly) + 30 minutes (baking) = ~1.5 hours total
Ingredients (makes ~6-8 cream puffs)
- 3 tbsp butter, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 tbsp flour
- 1 pinch salt
- orange food coloring (optional)
- 1/2 cup COLD water
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
Thai Tea Filling:
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1-2 tbsp Thai tea mix
How To Make Thai Tea Choux Puffs:
- Heat up the cream and Thai tea mix until scalded.
- Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let steep 5 minutes. Strain out and discard the tea mix. Chill until needed.
Making the Craquelin Crust
- Mix butter, sugar, flour, and salt together in a large bowl using a spatula. The mixture should resemble slightly crumbly cookie dough.
- Place dough between two sheets of waxed paper or inside a zip-loc bag. Press or roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Freeze crust until ready to use.
Making the Choux Pastry
- Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C). Line a baking sheet with foil or a silicone mat.
- Combine water, butter, and salt in a saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add flour; stir with a wooden spoon until mixture comes together into a smooth dough and pulls away cleanly from the bottom of the pan.
- Transfer to a bowl and spread out with a whisk to speed up cooling. Cool until warm, about 10 minutes.
- Whisk eggs, one at a time, into the pastry, mixing well after each addition. Scoop pastry into a pastry bag and pipe into 6 to 8 buns on the baking sheet.
- Smooth out tops with a wet finger.
- Use a cookie cutter to cut crust into circles about the diameter of the buns. Lightly push crusts onto the buns.
- Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 400 F (175 C) and bake for another 15 minutes. Transfer buns onto a cooling rack.
Making the Thai Tea Cream Filling
- Beat the heavy whipping cream and sugar until fully whipped with soft peaks (‘ribbon stage’).
- Cut a small hole in the bottom of each cream puff.
- Pour the cream into a pastry bag and pipe the cream into the cooled choux until filled.
- Enjoy your Thai Tea Choux Puffs!!