Last updated on September 8th, 2022.
Today we are taking an iconic French dessert and making it even better. Today we are making Chocolate Cream Puffs, or as the French say, choux a la creme au Chocolat.
Please do not get intimidated; even though they are light and airy and filled with a deliciously smooth and creamy chocolate pastry cream, they are super easy and fun to make. If you still have doubts, let me remind you that they are made the same way as Chorus and French curlers donuts. And both are street food. So if Dunkin donut can do it, so can you. And even better.
This fantastic recipe combines three recipes: chocolate cream puffs, chocolate pastry cream, and chocolate glaze. You make them like I did or use each to create an unlimited variety of desserts. So to sum it all up today, we are making an easy traditional french dessert; we will master classic and versatile recipes, and the most important part: we will have fun and impress everyone!
And last but not least, this chocolate creme puff recipe is made like any other cream puff using simple ingredients: water, butter, flour, cocoa powder, and eggs.
Are Cream Puffs, Profiteroles And Croqembouche The Same?
Yes. All three are cream puffs, but each has a different filling or presentation.
Cream puffs are filled with a sweet filling, most times cream or whipped cream, profiteroles are filled with any filling, most times savory fillings or ice cream and are drizzled with ganache. Croquembouche is a tower of cream puffs glued with caramel and then swirled with thin caramel strings.
The recipe card below shows you the complete ingredients list, including measurements.
Chocolate choux pastry
- Unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces.
- Granulated sugar
- Unbleached all-purpose flour. Unbleached is my go-to type of flour, but if you must, you can use bleached.
- Cocoa powder. Dutch-process or natural cocoa is ok; I decided to go with natural for this recipe.
- Large eggs, at room temperature.
For the chocolate pastry cream
- Milk. Make sure to use whole milk and do not use half and half or heavy cream.
- Egg yolks
- Granulated sugar
- butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- Chopped dark chocolate,semi-sweet (56%) or bitter (72%). I like the creaminess that the melted chocolate adds to the cream, but if you like, you can skip the melted chocolate and use cocoa powder instead of cornstarch.
For the chocolate glaze for cream puffs
I decided to go with a ganache to top the cream puffs. It is very rich, and if you think it might be too much, you can remove the heavy cream or dust with some powdered sugar instead.
- Chopped semi-sweet (35-52%) dark chocolate. (click the link to learn all about it)
- Heavy cream
- shortening or vegetable oil
How to make this chocolate cream puffs recipe
There are many cream puff recipes, and while they call for slightly different ingredients, they all use the same technique. Please take the time to read the instructions below carefully, so you can master them all. I included a step by step visual cues for best results and tips for what to look for as you bake this chocolate puff recipe.
Baking the chocolate choux
- Preheat the oven temperature to 425F (22C), and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix the flour, cocoa powder, and a medium bowl, and set aside. Combine water, sugar, salt, and butter in a medium saucepan. Cook on medium-high heat until the butter is fully melted and the water starts to boil.
- Add the flour mixture into the water mixture and cook over medium heat while vigorously stirring with a wooden spoon until a smooth ball is formed and the sides and bottom of the pan are clean. Keep stirring for about 1-2 more minutes. Do not rush this step; the idea is to reduce as much water as possible by evaporating and allowing the starches and proteins in the flour and cocoa powder to soak as much as possible (which starts at a temperature of approx. 140F (60C))
- Transfer the dough to a bowl of a stand mixer, and using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until the dough is cool to the touch. Increase the speed to medium-high and add the eggs one at a time, waiting for each egg to incorporate before adding the next one. The mixture will look like a big unpleasant mess and then become smooth and sticky.
- Use a small or medium cookie spoon to scoop the dough over the prepared pan, leaving about 2-inches between each pastry. If you don’t have a pastry bag, it’s ok. You can also pour the batter into a large pastry bag fitted with a round tip (or a rosette tip) and pipe 2-inch circles over the prepared parchment paper. Or, use one spoon to scoop the choux dough and another to push it on the prepared baking sheet. Dip your finger to smooth the dough gently.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastries have doubled in size and are puffed. Turn the oven off and allow the pastries to cool in the oven for about 30-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before filling.
Making the chocolate cream filling
- In a small saucepan, place the milk and bring it to a simmer. While the milk warms, mix the sugar and cornstarch, then min in the egg yolks.
- While stirring, mix one tablespoon at a time of warm milk into the egg yolk mixture until all of the milk is mixed in.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low while stirring until the pastry is thick.
- Run the cream through a sieve over a medium bowl, then add the butter and the melted chocolate. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Making the chocolate topping for cream puffs and Assembling
- Fill a large piping bag fitted with a filling tip with the chocolate cream puff filling. Use a knife to poke a small hole at the bottom of each chocolate cream puff, then fill with the pastry cream. Another way is to slice the pastries in the middle, like a hamburger roll and fill.
- Bring the heavy cream to a simmer, then pour it over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a few minutes.
- Stir the chocolate until smooth, then mix in the vegetable oil or shortening.
Flavors Ideas And Variations
I decided to go with a classic triple chocolate version, but as always, you do. Here are some flavor ideas and other options:
- Make classic vanilla pastry cream. Do not add the melted chocolate.
- Fill the shells with simple chocolate cream, or stabilized hwavy cream.
- Turn this french choux pastry into classic Profiteroles by slicing them in half (like a hamburger bun), filling them with vanilla ice cream, and drizzling warm caramel sauce.
- Choose chocolate ganache as a classic dessert filling.
- Transform these homemade cream puffs into traditional cream puffs by replacing the cocoa powder with regular all-purpose flour.
Troubleshooting and Expert Tips
Baking cream puffs and, of course, these chocolate pate a choux can be the most rewarding thing but can also be the most frustrating when it goes wrong. I collected all the mistakes and tips I have made through the years so you can perfect it in no time.
- The cream puffs collapsed. That indicates that the cream puffs did not set enough before you took them out of the oven. During the baking process, as they bake, the water turns to steam, and as it evaporates out of the choux pastries, it puffs them. For the cream puffs to maintain their puffy structure, the proteins in the eggs need to bake long enough and completely set, so as it cools down, they will keep their structure. Sometimes, even when the pasties have set, they still collapse due to the significant temperature difference between the oven and the kitchen. I like to keep the cream puffs in the off oven for about 30-45 minutes.
- Please do not open the oven door during baking; it will cause the pastries to collapse.
- The cream puffs are too crispy. A couple of reasons: one is overbaked, and two are stale. If you place them in a sealable bag, they will soften after a few hours. But it is best to use them immediately or freeze them. But even so, it’s ok. Once you fill them, the filling will soften them.
- No flavor. Well, that’s just how they are. When it comes to this specific pastry, it is all about the filling and not as much about the pastry itself.
- The pastry cream is curdled. Either the milk was too hot, or you added too much of it to the egg yolk mixture. Make sure only to scald the milk, and add one tablespoon at a time while stirring.
- The filling is too thick—too much cornstarch/cocoa powder. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of melted butter or fold in whipped cream.
Before filling, place in a container and refrigerate for up to 7 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months, at room temperature for up to 1 day.
When filled, store in the refrigerator for up to three days.
The chocolate cream filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
One of the following reasons can be the cause:
You did not cook the dough enough over the stove.
The oven temperature is too low.
The cream puffs were set before the water completely evaporated.
Also, once we fill them, the pastry gets soggy after a while from the filling.
Do not store it in an airtight container or a bag. Once filled, it will lose its crispiness after a while, so serve immediately.
The cream puff is round, and the eclair is shaped like a log.
Once they are completely cooled.
DID YOU TRY THIS RECIPE?
If you tried this recipe or any other recipe by One sarcastic Baker baking blog, please take a movement to rate and comment at the end of each recipe. Your questions, ideas, and thoughts are priceless, and here at OSB we value them more than butter!
Also, don’t forget to tag @OneSarcasticBaker on Instagram if you bake this recipe. I would love to see your creations!
Here are some more recipes I think you will enjoy
Chocolate cream puffs
Airy chocolate flavored cream puffs filled with chocolate pastry cream
Chocolate Pastry Cream
- 1 1/2 Cups Whole milk (360ml)
- 3 1/2 Tablespoons Cornstarch (24g / 0.75)
- 1/2 Cup Granulated sugar (100 g / 3.5 oz)
- 4 Large Egg yolks
- 3 Tablespoons Unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch pieces (35 g / 1 oz)
- 2/3 Cup Chopped semi-sweet chocolate (120 g / 4 oz)
- 1 Cup Water (240 ml/ 8 oz)
- 1 stick Unsalted Butter (113 g/ 4 oz)
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- 1 TBS Sugar
- 3/4 Cup AP Flour (100 g / 3.5 oz)
- 1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder (25 g / 1 oz)
- 4 Large Eggs, at room temperature
- 2/3 Cup Chopped semi-sweet chocolate (45-56%) (120 g / 4 oz)
- 1/3 Cup Heavy cream (80 ml)
- 2 Tablespoons Canola oil or vegetable shortening
Chocolate Cream Puffs
Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.
While the milk is warming, mix the sugar and cornstarch, then mix in the egg yolks.
While stirring, mix the warm milk into the egg yolks mixture one tablespoon at a time.
Return the milk mixture into the saucepan and cook over medium heat while stirring until the mixture begins to thicken.
Reduce heat to low, add the butter and melted chocolate and continue to stir until smooth; remove from heat and run through a sieve over a medium bowl.
Cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 425F. Line 2 cookie pans with parchment paper.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder together. Set aside
Place the water, butter, salt, and sugar in a pan and over the stove, high heat.
Allow the butter to melt, and the water starts to boil. Add the flour mixture.
Vigorously mix the flour and water until a smooth dough forms and the bottom and sides of the pan are clean. Reduce heat to medium-low and keep mixing for additional 1-2 minutes.
Remove from heat and place in a bowl of a standing mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix the dough on medium for 3-4 minutes, or until cool to the touch.
Add the eggs one at a time and mix on medium until you have a smooth batter. The batter will go from a very messy, curdle mixture to a smooth and sticky dough.
Use a cookie spoon; piping bag or two spoons to scop the dough over the prepared pans.
Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 400F and baker for 10-15 minutes longer.
Once it is baked, turn the oven off and allow the profiteroles to cool in the oven.
Place the chopped chocolate in a deep bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer, then pour it over the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Mix the chocolate and cream until smooth, then mix in the oil or shortening.
Use a knife to make a hole at the bottom of the cream puffs.
Fill a piping bag fitted with the filling tip, fill it with the pastry cream, then use the hole you made to fill each cream puff.
Dip the top of each cream puff in the chocolate. Serve immideately.
- When cooking the flour mixture for the choux pastry, keep in mind that this is so the water will evaporate or be absorbed into the flour, so do not rush this step.
- Do not open the oven mid-bake. It will cause the cream puffs to collapse.
- Fill the pasties only when completely cool, serve immediately, then store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- The pastry cream can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- You can freeze the pasties for up to 3 months in a freezable bag.
- The pastry cream should have the consistency of thin pudding when warm. If too thick, place it back in the saucepan and add one tablespoon of milk at a time over medium heat.
- Make sure not to overheat the milk. If too hot, it will cause the cream to curdle.