I’ve heard and read that the French term of those thin layers of crumble atop a choux to keep them perfectly round/long/in shape is called a ‘Craquelin’. But then sometimes I think they say it just to make it more fancy because while working in Paris, everyone in the lab I was in just called it a crumble and as boring as it may be to do it, I was always told “tu mets le crumble sur les choux” and there I’d be trotting along back and forth between the freezer and my work space to put the thinly rolled frozen crumbles on top of the choux/éclairs.
The only difficulty is doing them in Singapore’s climate. Words can’t express how frustrating it is sometimes. Because it is rolled out so thinly and the crumble has such a high content of butter, it goes soft in seconds its almost astonishing. In paris it still lasts long enough for you to cut it and even place it on top of the choux but over here in this oven of a country, it doesn’t last more than 10 seconds and I am not exaggerating here.
(that’s how thin it should be)
Blast your air conditioner because it would help loads or you can be like me and do it the hard and stupid way of cutting it inside the fridge, transfer it into the freezer and let it freeze it up nicely so it gets all hard and you can peel it off the silpat pretty easily and then place them on top of the choux one by one without taking all of it out of the freezer. And then I go on making extras and freezing them all so whenever I need it I just pop them out!
Roll them between two silpats till about 2mm and leave it in the fridge to firm up and you can peel away the top layer of the silpat. Using a ruler, cut them into (3×12)cm pieces for éclairs (or depending on how long or small your éclairs are) and round cutters for small choux puffs.
Slightly troublesome but so worth it!
Get those rolling pins ready guys, here’s the recipe for you to add this nifty trick to your choux ;)
unsalted butter (softened) – 100g
raw brown cane sugar – 100g
flour – 100g
Mix all the ingredients together using a spatula until it forms a sticky dough.
Roll it between two silpats till about 2mm, leave it to firm up and cut according to what choux form you have piped.
Place it atop your choux batter before baking.
Bake as per normal as how you would bake your choux puffs without a crumble on top.
// Note: You may add colouring to the crumble if desired. //
// Note II: Because of the high sugar content in the crumble, the tops may brown faster so adjust your oven accordingly. I tend to leave out the sugar in the choux batter itself so that the end product would not be too brown. //