These matcha cream puffs are made with crunchy choux au craquelin shells filled with matcha diplomat cream and a matcha pastry cream center.
Cherry blossom season is the most beautiful time of year to live in Vancouver, in my opinion. Not only is the weather warming up from months of cold and gloominess, but the streets are lined with pink petals that eventually find their way to the ground with each gust of wind or rainy Spring day.
These blooms inspire the floral flavours and Japanese flavours and textures in the kind of desserts I crave, including these matcha cream puffs, with their green tea flavour and dreamy cream filling.
What goes into these matcha cream puffs?
- Choux - Choux pastry or pâte à choux is the basic cream puff dough that is cooked on a stovetop and then mixed with eggs to incorporate air pockets so that they puff up and create a hollow space inside when baked. You can make choux cream puffs with or without the craquelin.
- Craquelin - Craquelin is a thin disc of butter, sugar, and flour that breaks apart as the choux dough bakes to create the sweet, crunchy cookie bits on the outside of the choux puff. Cream puffs with this component are called choux au craquelin (choux with craquelin).
- Matcha pastry cream - Pastry cream or crème pâtissière is a thick custard used as a filling for cream puffs, tarts, donuts, and other pastries. It's thickened by cooking eggs and cornstarch on a stovetop.
- Matcha diplomat cream - Diplomat cream is simply pastry cream folded together with whipped cream to create a lighter, more airy cream filling.
Cream puffs can be filled with entirely pastry cream, diplomat cream, whipped cream, or a combination of them. I've used both pastry cream and diplomat cream for these matcha cream puffs for more variety in texture and flavour. The diplomat cream is light and airy with a soft matcha flavour while the pastry cream in the middle is thick and smooth with a strong and deep matcha flavour.
How to make matcha cream puffs
For the matcha pastry cream
In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, and cornstarch until combined. Set aside.
In a small pot, heat milk on medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Sift in matcha powder and whisk to combine. Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking vigorously to temper the eggs.
Pour the entire mixture back into the pot and return it to medium heat. Keep stirring constantly for about 8-10 minutes until the mixture thickens into a custard-like consistency. If you drag a spatula through the pastry cream, it should part and then come back together after 1-2 seconds.
Stir in butter cubes one at a time until all melted and combined. Push the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve (optional but recommended) into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap right onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely and store in the fridge for later.
For the craquelin cookie topping
In a small bowl, use a silicone spatula to cream together the softened butter and sugar until it becomes a smooth paste. Mix in flour until it becomes a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and press together to form a flattened disc.
Fold the plastic wrap on top of the dough (to prevent it from sticking to your rolling pin) and use a rolling pin to roll it out to about ⅛" thick. Freeze for at least 1 hour or overnight until it becomes a solid sheet.
For the choux dough
Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a small pot, melt together butter, water, and milk on medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Bubbles must be coming to the surface. Add the flour in all at once and quickly stir it together right away until it forms a soft dough.
Keep stirring the dough around the pot, flattening it out, and spreading it around for about 4 minutes to dry it out. It should look like dry mashed potatoes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes until barely warm to the touch.
Add in the eggs ⅓ at a time, stirring until the dough has absorbed the eggs in between additions. It will look like it's curdled for a bit but just keep stirring until it's smooth and slightly shiny. Your dough is at the right consistency when you scoop it up with a spatula and let it drop back into the pot and it leaves a V-shaped piece of dough on the spatula.
Use a 2" cookie/ice cream scooper to scoop the dough out onto your baking sheet, leaving 3" between each choux.
Take your frozen craquelin sheet out and use a 2" round cookie cutter to cut out discs. Place the craquelin discs on top of each choux dough mound.
Bake at 400°F for 5 minutes. Turn it down to 350°F and bake for another 25-30 minutes until puffs are golden brown. In the last few minutes of baking, use a chopstick to poke a hole into each puff to release any steam inside. Let cool completely before using a serrated knife to cut the tops off (optional).
For the matcha diplomat cream
While the choux puffs are cooling, prepare the fillings. In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat whipping cream until it becomes almost stiff peaks.
Add in half of the matcha pastry cream you made earlier and use a silicone spatula to gently fold in an upwards motion to combine without deflating too much air out of the whipped cream.
Transfer the diplomat cream and the remaining half of the pastry cream into separate piping bags and snip the tips off the bags.
Pipe the diplomat cream into the cooled choux shells until about ⅘ full. Insert the tip of the pastry cream piping bag right into the middle of the diplomat cream and pipe the pastry cream directly into the center of the cream puff until full.
Use any remaining diplomat cream to pipe a simple design on top of each cream puff. Serve immediately or within an hour of assembling.
Storing and freezing cream puffs
Cream puffs are best eaten right away or within 1-2 hours of filling. The choux shell will get softer the longer the filling sits inside.
If you must, assembled cream puffs can be covered and stored in the fridge for 1-2 days or frozen for up to 1 week and thawed in the fridge overnight. Keep in mind that the choux will not be crunchy after thawing and there may be some crystallization in the pastry cream.
Baked but unfilled choux buns can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and crisp them up by baking them at 350F for 5-10 minutes.
Making in advance
The choux dough, craquelin, and pastry cream can all be made in advance and stored in the fridge (or freezer for the craquelin) for 1-3 days, which I recommend so that there are fewer things to do on the day you are serving them.Print