Christmas Tree Matcha Craquelin Cream Puffs Recipe

My Christmas tree matcha craquelin cream puffs are essentially choux au craquelin filled with matcha diplomat cream. Christmas tree styling optional but adorable.

Choux au craquelin is choux pastry baked with a layer of sweet crunchy biscuit dough. It's a tad more advanced than making plain choux as the topping makes it more difficult to judge by eye if the pastry's fully-cooked in the oven or not, but in practice the steps are simple.

My matcha choux au craquelin recipe (AKA matcha craquelin cream puffs) adds an extra level of kitsch to these normally elegant, refined pastries by piping an extra swirl of the filling on top and sticking on a gold chocolate star to finish. Alas, the oven made my tiny kitchen super hot, softening the diplomat cream and making the piped swirls less defined over time, but you get the idea.

Diplomat cream is simply pastry cream (a type of firm custard) mixed with whipped double cream. It's super light but rich. In this recipe I've only added matcha to the craquelin and to the pastry cream part of the diplomat cream, but you can also add extra matcha to the whipped cream before stirring the two together for a stronger matcha flavour and deeper colour.

The reason why I didn't do this? Because I had to make these three times before they came out right and I was running out of matcha (and the good stuff's expensive).

When I last made choux au craquelin a few years ago, I was living in a different place with a different oven. Back then, preheating the oven to 200°C and then lowering it to 180°C to bake for 20 minutes produced consistent results every time. I figured since they were both fan ovens, it'd be the same.

But now? This straight up burned them. And 190°C was OK, but I couldn't bake the puffs for long enough for the choux to cook without over-browning the craquelin on top. So I eventually tried baking them at 180°C without the higher preheating temperature, and then reduced the heat even further halfway through baking, keeping them in for a longer time to dry out fully. And it worked perfectly.

So bear in mind the quirks of your own oven at home – they truly aren't all built the same.

You can also see how I make these on my YouTube video:

Ready? Let's go.

(Makes about 20 cream puffs.)

Ingredients for Matcha Diplomat Cream Filling:

1 tbsp matcha
80ml hot water
2 eggs
150g caster sugar
3 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla bean paste/extract
250ml milk
40g unsalted butter
300ml double cream

Ingredients for Craquelin Topping:

65g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
80g light muscovado sugar
70g plain flour
1 tbsp matcha
Pinch of salt

Ingredients for Choux Pastry:

60g unsalted butter
120ml water
3 tsp caster sugar
Pinch of salt
80g plain flour
2 eggs (no bigger than medium-sized)

To Decorate (Optional):

Chocolate stars sprayed with edible gold spray


1. First, make the pastry cream for the diplomat cream filling. Start by whisking the matcha and water together until smooth.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, cornflour, whisked matcha and vanilla together, and set aside. Place the milk and butter together in a small saucepan, and melt the butter in it over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and then pour the hot buttery milk over your matcha egg mixture, stirring continuously.

3. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan, and cook over a low heat until very thick (like a very thick custard), again stirring continuously. Scrape into a separate bowl and cover with clingfilm, making sure the clingfilm touches the surface so a skin won't form. Leave to cool completely, and then chill in the fridge for at least four hours. (You'll use the double cream later.)

4. Next, make the craquelin topping. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl with a wooden spoon, and stir in the flour, matcha and salt (feel free to swap to clean hands when the dough comes together and gets tough to stir). Once it forms a smooth, soft dough, roll it out between two sheets of nonstick baking paper until it's about 3mm thick, transfer it to a large baking tray to keep it flat, and pop in the fridge for at least four hours too (or in the freezer for an hour).

5. Once the craquelin dough is chilled thoroughly, stamp out circles roughly the size you want your cream puffs to be (I used an 5cm biscuit cutter) until you have 20 all together. Pop back in the fridge or freezer until you need them.

6. Preheat the oven to 180°C, and line two baking trays with nonstick baking parchment.

7. To make the choux pastry, place the butter, water, sugar and salt in a small saucepan, and heat over a medium heat to melt the butter and bring the liquid to a simmer. As soon as it simmers, switch the heat off and stir in the flour, stirring thoroughly so there are no lumps. Switch the heat back on and continue to stir, cooking until it comes together on itself and you have a dough. Remove from the heat completely and leave to cool a little.

8. Once the dough is still a little warm but not hot, beat in the eggs one at a time, until you have a smooth, pipeable paste.

9. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag, and pipe 20 even blobs onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the out evenly to give then room to puff up. Take your craquelin circles out of the fridge, and place on top of the choux blobs (only do this for one tray if you only have space to bake one at a time). Pop in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 170°C and bake for a further 15 minutes. Finally, reduce the heat to 130°C and bake for 15 more minutes before removing from the oven and leaving to cool completely.

10. Repeat with the other tray, preheating the oven back to 180°C and popping the rest of the craquelin discs on top of the remaining unbaked choux blobs just before going into the oven.

11. To finish making the diplomat cream filling, give the pastry cream you've made a good stir to loosten it up, and whip the cream in a separate bowl until it forms soft peaks. Fold the two together.

12. When you're ready to serve (not too long before, as the cream will make the choux soggy over time), poke holes in the tops of your puffs. Spoon the diplomat cream into a piping bag, and fill them until they bulge a little, piping a little extra on top. Finally, finish with a chocolate star before serving.

Enjoy, and have fun.


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