This is a showstopper dessert fit for displaying in a Parisian pastry case. We'll learn how to make classic pate a choux dough for tender cream puffs, as well as, a raspberry flavored craquelin--small disks of dough baked on the puffs for that distinctive crackled top. But, wait, there's more! We'll find out how to whip up a light-as-air chocolate mousse to fill these impressive sweet treats.
For the chocolate mousse: Whip the cream in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Set aside.
Whisk together the whole egg, egg yolks, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, salt and 1 tablespoon water in a medium heatproof bowl until combined. Set the bowl over a medium saucepan of gently simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water). Whisk constantly until the mixture is pale, hot to the touch and has almost doubled in volume, 4 to 6 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally with a silicone spatula, if necessary. Remove from the heat and continue whisking until cooled, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
Put the chocolate in another medium heatproof bowl and set over the saucepan of gently simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water). Stir occasionally with a silicone spatula until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and gently stir for about 3 minutes to cool slightly.
Whisk the egg mixture into the melted chocolate in 3 additions until combined. (The mixture may get very thick.) It's important that the chocolate mixture is not warm or it may seize up when combined with the whipped cream. Gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture in 3 additions with a rubber spatula until it is fully incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled through, about 1 hour and up to overnight.
For the raspberry craquelin: Pulse the brown sugar and freeze-dried raspberries together in a food processor until finely chopped and bright pink. Add the butter and a pinch of salt and pulse until blended and smooth. Add the flour, then continue to pulse until moist. Pulse in the vanilla until combined. The mixture should be crumbly but hold together when pinched. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of parchment and form into a disk. Top with another sheet of parchment and roll the dough between the 2 sheets until about 1/8 inch thick (see Cook's Note). Freeze until chilled through, about 30 minutes, then stamp out 40 rounds with a 1 1/2-inch cutter. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until ready to assemble.
For the cream puffs: Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
Combine 1 cup water with the butter, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the mixture boils, immediately add all the flour at once and stir with a wooden spoon until it is fully incorporated and smooth, about 1 minute. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 30 seconds more.
Scrape the mixture into a large bowl. Add 1 of the eggs at a time and mix with an electric mixer on medium speed after each addition until completely incorporated and the dough is thick and smooth.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a medium round tip. Pipe 40 circular mounds of dough (about 1 1/2 inches wide and 1 inch tall), about 1 inch apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Dip your finger in water and dab each mound to smooth the top. Top each with a round of raspberry craquelin.
Bake until the bottoms of the puffs are lightly golden brown and the craquelin spreads and crackles over each puff, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, 20 to 25 minutes (see Cook's Note). Let the puffs cool completely on the baking sheets.
Whip the chilled chocolate mousse with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, lightened and pipeable. Transfer to a pastry bag with a medium star tip.
Assemble the cream puffs: Cut each puff in half horizontally with a sharp serrated knife. Pipe the mousse onto the bottom halves, then sandwich with the top halves and serve.
Cook’s Note: When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)
Make sure to roll the craquelin into a thin layer, about 1/8-inch thick. Any thicker and the craquelin won’t melt and crack over the puffs like a traditional craquelin.
Do not overbake the craquelin, or the color will change from a beautiful merlot color to brown.
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