Hello friends, today we are going to make Christmas Puffs. Choux dough baked until puffed, with the option of adding craquelin on top. They are filled with Pistachio Pastry Cream. To decorate, I topped some with strawberries and whipped cream to make a Santa hat, and I dipped the puffs without the craquelin in melted green chocolate.
The Pistachio Pastry Cream is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tried! It’s made with Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk, the sponsor of this post.
Using sweetened condensed milk to make pastry cream became my go to. Since I made these Boston Cream Cookies, I fell in love with how the sweetened condensed milk makes for a rich, tasty, and silky pastry cream.
The pastry cream will be thick and extra luscious. I really recommend and swear by this!
Making the pastry cream is super easy. You can make it a couple of days ahead before making the pastry dough. It can even be frozen as well.
Here’s how to make the Pistachio Pastry Cream. First place the milk and pistachio paste in a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom. The pan you use does matter. Use a sturdy pan.
Bring the milk and pistachio paste to a boil while whisking, to break down the pistachio paste in the milk.
Once the milk comes to a boil, turn the heat off and set it aside. You can move on to making the custard or let the milk infuse with the pistachio for 30 minutes. This will bring out the flavors and the green color even more.
If you let the milk and pistachio infuse together, bring it back to a boil to heat it up again before proceeding with the recipe.
Place the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks in the bowl of a mixer and whisk together until well incorporated.
Add the cornstarch dissolved in milk to the bowl and whisk.
Now, with the mixer on, begin to add the hot pistachio milk to the sweetened condensed milk and yolk mixture. Add about 1/4 cup at a time, in order to not cook the yolks. This is called tempering the eggs.
Continue to add the hot milk while whisking until it’s all added.
Return the mixture to the saucepan through a strainer, to filter out any bits of scrambled yolk, or larger pistachio bits that may clog the piping tip later.
With the heat on medium, cook the custard, stirring non stop with a spatula.
The custard will begin to thicken, and then it will become lumpy. Just continue to stir vigorously, making sure you are scraping the bottom of the pan.
Once it becomes smooth, thick, and creamy, add the butter. Remove the pan from the heat and stir until the butter has incorporated with the pastry cream.
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cover with plastic directly on the surface of the cream, so a skin doesn’t form.
Let it cool down and place in the fridge until chilled thoroughly, should take a few hours. This pistachio cream can be made ahead. Make it up to 2-3 days before filling the puffs. You can also store the pistachio pastry cream in the freezer for up to 1 month.
I made two different decorations for these Christmas Puffs.
I wanted one of the decorations to make the puffs look like Santa Claus, so I made a red craquelin to place on top of the choux dough before baking. The red puffs got decorated as if they were Santa Claus, with a little strawberry hat and whipped cream on top.
Then I also baked the choux pastry without the craquelin, and dipped the tops of those puffs in white chocolate mixed with oil based green food coloring.
Use good quality white chocolate, and also make sure the food coloring you are using is appropriate for candy, or oil based. Gel or liquid food coloring will make the chocolate all lumpy and curdled.
After dipping the puffs in the chocolate, I stuck a little piece of edible gold on top of them to decorate.
The reason why I made them green it’s because I wanted to make this beautiful Christmas tree out of cream puffs.
The craquelin is easy to make if you are wondering if the red puffs are harder to make than the plain green ones.
Craquelin is the dough that goes on top of the choux dough before baking.
It’s essentially only made of flour, sugar, and butter. The flour and sugar may vary depending on the recipe. Some people use brown sugar, or powdered sugar. And for the flour, I tried with cake flour and all-purpose and felt like the cake flour was a bit better.
All you have to do is mix the ingredients to form a dough, and dye with red food coloring. Roll it out between sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper.
Then, I like to place that in the fridge for no longer than 3 minutes.
Remove and cut the circles using a cookie cutter.
You can also make the craquelin ahead and have it ready to when it’s time to bake the choux dough.
Store the craquelin in the freezer or fridge. I store the cut out circles in the freezer, but if I need to store the whole dough, I’ll store it in the fridge, covered tightly with plastic.
Once you make the choux dough, pipe it and top with the craquelin rounds before baking.
The fresh baked craquelin puffs are absolutely delicious!
When it comes to puffs, and craquelin specially, the earlier you eat them after they’re made, the better.
For shooting purposes, I kept them in the fridge for a couple of days, they stayed fine, but lost a bit of freshness and crispness each day.
I also recommend piping the filling on the day of serving if possible.
This dessert will absolutely blow everyone’s minds, because it’s so delicious! And the decoration is so beautiful. You have a couple of options when it comes to decorating, and I think both decorations would be super pretty.
If you like these Christmas Puffs recipe, you should also check these out:
- Christmas Sugar Cookies
- Gingerbread Men Macarons
- Cranberry Cheesecake
- Eggnog Pie
- Sweetened Condensed Milk Donuts
- Pistachio Cannoli
- Boston Cream Puff Pastry
Pistachio Pastry Cream
- 1 1/2 cup milk divided
- 1/3 cup pistachio paste
- 1 14 oz. can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk 396 grams
- 4 large yolks
- 3 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (113 grams)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar 100 grams
- 1 cup cake flour 127 grams
- Red food coloring
- 1 cup water 240 ml
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter 113 grams
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour 127 grams
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
- Gold leaves
- To make the Pastry Cream, start by placing 1 1/4 cup of milk in a saucepan with the pistachio paste and whisk over medium heat just until you see the first bubbles appear. Turn the heat off and set the pan aside. You can do this a bit before and let the milk infuse with the pistachio for about 30 minutes. Then re-heat the mixture before proceeding. This will make the pistachio flavor more prominent. Though this is not a mandatory step.
- Using a mixer, whisk the yolks together with the sweetened condensed milk.
- Take the remaining 1/4 cup of milk and mix with the cornstarch. Whisk well so the cornstarch will dissolve.
- Add the cornstarch/milk mixture to the sweetened condensed milk and yolks. Whisk well.
- Pour about 1/4 cup of the hot milk/pistachio mixture in the sweetened condensed milk mixture, while whisking with the mixer.
- This process is called tempering the eggs, and we add the milk slowly in order to not make scrambled eggs out of the yolks we have in the bowl.
- Slowly continue to add all the milk until it’s been all added.
- Pour the whole mixture back in the saucepan through a fine mesh sieve, this will help catch any bits of egg that might have cooked, and also bits of pistachio nuts that will clog the piping bag later.
- Place the pan over medium heat, and stir with a spatula the whole time while you cook the custard.
- It should take some time, but slowly you will see the custard begin to thicken at the bottom.
- It will seem as the custard is lumpy, but trust the process, keep on stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, and soon the whole mixture will thicken up. Don’t leave the heat too high, or the custard will indeed become lumpy because some bits of it will burn at the bottom of the pan.
- After a few minutes the whole mixture will be thick and creamy, when that happens, remove it from the heat and add the butter.
- Stir until the butter has melted entirely and incorporated with the mixture.
- Cover the bowl a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard, to prevent a skin from forming.
- Refrigerate the custard for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days or so.
- With an electric mixer, beat the butter for one minute. Add the powdered sugar and beat for another minute. Add the cake flour and red food coloring and mix to combine and to form a cookie dough. Add as much food coloring as needed to make the color a vibrant red.
- Between layers of parchment paper, roll out the craquelin dough until about 1/4” thick.
- Use a 2” cookie cutter to cut rounds of craquelin. Place the rounds in a baking sheet and in the freezer or fridge while you work on the choux pastry.
- You can make the craquelin tops a couple of days ahead and leave them in the freezer until ready to bake the choux.
- Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone.
- In a medium saucepan, mix the water, butter, salt, and sugar. Place over medium heat and let it come to a boil. Once it does, remove the pan from the heat, add the flour and mix vigorously to incorporate.
- Place the pan back in the heat, stir until the flour has incorporated with the wet mixture and a thick dough has formed, for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the heat, transfer it to a bowl and let it cool down for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, line a large piping bag with a large round tip and set it aside.
- Break the 4 eggs and whisk them gently.
- After 10 minutes have passed, start mixing the dough again, this time using an electric mixer or a wooden spatula. I love doing this in the mixer, but can be done by hand also.
- While you mix the dough, start adding the eggs, a bit at a time, making sure to incorporate them nicely with the dough.
- After you have finishes adding the eggs continue to work the dough for another minute with the mixer, and a couple of minutes by hand.
- Once the dough is thick and smooth, transfer it to the piping bag.
- Pipe circles of choux dough that measure about 1.75 inches in diameter.
- Top each dough circle with a craquelin round. Or if not making craquelin, simply bake the choux dough as it is. Baking time should be about the same for both.
- Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until puffed and golden brown on the bottom.
- Let it cool down.
- If not using on the same day, place in an air tight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
- To fill the puffs, place the Pistachio Pastry Cream in a piping bag fitted with a small round tip such as a tip 6 or 8.
- Stick the piping tip on the bottom of the puff, and pipe the filling inside.
- Whip heavy cream with a mixer for a few minutes until it has firm peaks.
- Place it in a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe a ring of whipped cream on top of the choux craquelin. Top with a strawberry, and then pipe a dot on top of the strawberry, and it will look like a Santa Claus hat.
- Another decoration idea is to melt the white chocolate with a dash of green candy food coloring. Then dip the tops of the choux without craquelin in the chocolate. Then, stick a piece of gold leaf on top.
Once filled consume on the same day, so the pastry doesn’t get soggy. Pastry Cream: You can make the pastry cream a couple of days ahead before making the pastry dough. It can even be frozen as well.