bowl of choux pastry puffs with craquelin chocolate

How Craquelin on Choux Pastry Works

Have you ever seen those profiteroles or cream puffs with a speckled decorated top? The pattern on top almost looks like dried out earth, with a lot of cracks and spaces in between the darker spots of decoration? Note only does the decoration look beautiful, it also makes those puffs beautifully round (as opposed to wrinkled), gives it a slight crunch and adds some extra flavour.

That decorated top is what we call a “craquelin”, French for ‘cracker. And it is indeed some sort of a cracker, on top of your choux pastry bun, making it a ‘choux au craquelin’. So how does it work, and if it doesn’t how to fix it?

What is a craquelin?

A craquelin is a thin piece of dough that you put on top of a choux pastry bun, just before you’re planning to put it into the oven. That dough will heat up in the oven and fold itself around the bun, decorating the choux pastry.

That crunchy decorative layer on top of your cream puff or profiterole is made up of only three ingredients: butter, sugar and flour. You blend them together in a coherent dough and then roll out the dough very thinly. The thickness of the layer is important since it will determine the thickness of your craquelin at the end. You tend to want it quite thin, 1-2 mm, so it is strong enough to hold together when picked up, but thin enough to soften quickly and thinly coat the buns.

After rolling and chilling the dough you cut it into the shape you want and place it on top of your choux pastry, after which you’re ready to bake!

unbaked choux puffs with craquelin
The conventional shape for craquelin is a circle, however, you can choose any shape you like, we used stars here.

How does a craquelin work?

As we mentioned, the craquelin on top of choux pastry is made of butter, sugar and flour. Initially, this may sound like a cookie recipe, but it definitely isn’t. It should bake as hard as a cookie. Instead, the dough will remain softer during and after baking. To achieve this, craquelin recipes tend to have quite a low amount of flour in them. Flour normally serves as a structuring ingredient and by decreasing it, it will be less structured.

Butter makes it soft & hard

You want the craquelin to be soft when it is baking in the oven. That way, it will ‘fold’ itself around the buns. However, you want it to be solid while you’re stamping out the shapes to put on top of the choux pastry buns.

It’s the butter in the craquelin that makes these two extremes possible. Butter is made of about 80% fat. This fat, butterfat, is mostly solid in the fridge, but completely liquid above 40°C (104°F). In between those temperatures the amount of liquid fat will increase for increasing temperatures. This is why room temperature butter is softer than that straight from the fridge. It is also why the craquelin is nice and sturdy when it just comes out of the fridge, but soft when you knead the dough together.

Because there is a quite a lot of butter in the craquelin and because butter melts, you will notice that the craquelin doesn’t really stay together well in the oven. This is great, because you want it to follow the shape of your choux pastry bun! Also, you want it to slightly break apart to create that beautiful textured top.

craquelin baked without choux pastry bun
For comparison purposed we also baked some craquelin without any choux buns underneath. See how it has flattened and is quite uneven on the surface? This would be undesirable for a cookie, but great for craquelin.

It makes the buns nice and round

What is really nice about craquelin is that it actually helps improve the shape of your choux buns. Choux buns, when they rise, can become a bit wobbly. How they rise, really depends on where most of the moisture pockets, that will expand, sit within the dough. The craquelin though helps to make sure that the whole outer layer of the choux is kept together. One part can’t bulge out more than another since it will be held back by the craquelin. Instead, the overall dough will be a little firmer and will expand more evenly. It will behave more like a balloon!

Craquelin trouble shooting

Craquelin is a relatively simple upgrade of your choux pastry. However, since choux pastry itself can be finicky, there are still quite some thing that can go wrong.

The choux buns aren’t rising properly

Remember that the choux pastry rises and opens up because of the formation of steam within the bun. There is no other ‘help’. In order for the choux bun to rise the pressure within the bun must be high enough to push out the still soft and flexible dough. If that dough is not flexible enough (often due to a wrong choux pastry recipe) or if something heavy (aka the craquelin!) is pushing it down, it might not rise well.

Try making a thinner or smaller craquelin to reduce the weight.

unbaked choux pastry with craquelin dough

The craquelin falls off after baking

The craquelin isn’t really held onto the choux bun by anything. It’s only connection point is where the craquelin touches the choux pastry. If your craquelin is very crumbly, it might fall off the bun later. Whereas you’re likely never able to prevent any from falling off, there are some ways to reduce it.

Reducing the thickness of the craquelin might help prevent his. If the layer is thin, a bigger part of it sits connected onto the choux pastry. Also, gravity will have less weight to pull down, so it doesn’t come off as easily. Otherwise, you might want to improve the consistency of your craquelin to make it less crumbly.

In some cases, adding a little extra flour to the craquelin might just make it a more more coherent. The flour will bind some of the moisture and hold onto the fat and sugar. Don’t increase it by too much though or it will become inflexible and tough.

There are holes in the craquelin

Sometimes you might have a few sections of your choux bun that doesn’t have any (or far less) craquelin than other parts). This might have been because of incomplete mixing.

Ensure that you mix the butter well with the flour and sugar. If there are large chunks of butter within the dough, those parts will melt almost completely in the oven. As a result, an empty spot or hole might be formed.

profiteroles with craquelin


Yield: enough for 20 choux buns
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

A slightly crunchy, chocolatey craquelin topping for choux pastry. It may look like a cookie recipe, itd definitely is not due to the low amount of flour in there! This recipe includes instructions for making the choux bun, but if you want a more extensive explanation, go to the recipe dedicated to choux pastry!



  • 45g brown sugar
  • 35g butter (unsalted)
  • 35g flour
  • 10g cocoa powder*

Choux pastry

  • 100 ml water
  • 50g butter (unsalted)
  • 60g flour
  • 2 eggs


Craquelin prep

  1. In a bowl, mix the ingredients together by hand until it has formed a homogeneous dough. If you start with cold butter, you will notice that the dough softens as you go, this is fine. If it gets too sticky, place it in the fridge to cool back down.
  2. At the end you want there to be no more spots of white from the butter in there.
  3. Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper and cover that top with another piece of that same material. using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into an evenly thin layer of about 1-2 mm thickness. You want it to be very thin, that will help it to crisp up nicely.
  4. Put the rolled out dough with protecting outer layers in the fridge and leave to cool down for at least 15 minutes, but it's fine to leave it in for up to a day until you need it. You just want to harden the dough out so it is easy to cut out toppings.

Choux pastry (more extensive instructions here)

  1. Melt the butter and water in a saucepan and mix through the flour until it forms a dough ball that does not stick to the sides.
  2. Leave to cool down to just above room temperature.
  3. Stir in the eggs, you will get a soft dough, that will hold its shape for a few minutes (you don't want your dough to puddle down).
  4. Pipe balls of dough onto a greased baking tray (or one lined with a baking mat or parchment paper). you should be able to make about 20.

Craquelin finishing off

  1. Take your craquelin dough out of the fridge.
  2. Take a (cookie) cutter that is about the size of your little dough balls. Most people will use a round ones, but as you see on the photos, we used a start shaped one and that works perfectly fine as well, the final result will just look slightly different.
  3. Place a piece of craquelin on each choux pastry dough ball. unbaked choux puffs with craquelin.
  4. Bake your tray of choux pastry in the oven at 200°C (395°F) for approximately 25 minutes.


Your craquelin will start to soften and fold around the choux pastry within a matter of minutes, but it will take at least 10 minutes for the choux pastry to start puffing up!

* The cocoa powder browns the craquelin and also gives the choux bun an extra hit of flavour. If you do not want that. Take out the cocoa powder and replace with 5 extra grams of butter and flour (so you're adding a total of 40g of each). The craquelin will have a lighter colour, but will likely be a bit more crispy.

choux pastry with light brown craquelin on top


David Lebovitz, Craquelin, 2013, link

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  1. Recipe measurements are in grams. Can we get it in Measurements of cups teaspoons, ozs? Thank you

    • Hi Florence!

      I would not recommend converting it to cups and tablespoons because you might get a lot of inconvenient sizes. If you do want to there are a lot of online converters you can use, since everyone’s cups and spoons are slightly different in size and since these types of recipes require some more accuracy we decided not to give those. Thanks!

    • Hi Daniela,

      Great question! I haven’t tried it myself, but here are my thoughts! When you’re making the craquelin dough you want it to be firm and sturdy, butter is firmer than olive oil so you might have some issues with it becoming too soft to roll and cut. Butter hardens out in the fridge whereas olive oil doesn’t really, but you can try it for sure! If you notice the dough is too soft you could replace some of the olive oil and cocoa powder with chocolate (e.g. replace 10g cocoa powder & 10g olive oil with 20g chocolate). Chocolate does harden in the fridge so can help there. Once you’ve got the craquelin on the choux you should be good, it will again be at a little more risk of being too runny and soft, and the flavor will be slightly different, but I wouldn’t expect other major challenges.

      Hope that helps and good luck!

  2. Hi! Thank you for making such an informative blog! If possible, I’d like to ask for some tips on the recipe. I’ve just made some craquelins and my batch didn’t have a crack on the surface. May I ask what might have gone wrong or do you have any suggestion on how to troubleshoot this?

    • Hi Salisa, Sorry for taking a while to respond! Did your craquelin completely cover the pastry into a smooth, but firm and dry layer?
      Did your puffs puff up properly? Because they puff, they pull apart the craquelin. However, if the craquelin remains very flexible and liquid while the puffs are expanding, it might just move with it and not get the cracks. Maybe use a little less moisture in that case?
      In some cases a slightly thicker layer can help as well to have it stick properly.

      Hope that helps, if you think something else might be going on, let us know and we’ll try to help 🙂

      • Thanks for the response! I’ll try again 🙂

        May I ask a bit more on the craquellin? Given that there are three components that form craquellin, what is the component that really causes the crack?

        • Hi Salisa,

          The crack is formed by the expanding choux pastry. The trick is to make sure that your craquelin isn’t too flexible so it doesn’t expand with the choux. Probably, if you’d increase the amount of butter for instance, the craquelin might become a little softer and expand more with the choux. On the other hand, a drier craquelin breaks more easily and gives those cracks. But too dry makes it hard to place the craquelin on top of your choux! In other words, it’s the ratios of the ingredients that make the craquelin work best.
          The final craquelin on the top of the choux is a mix of flour, sugar and butter. The flour will have cooked in the oven and the butter will have lost some of its moisture (causing the craquelin to dry). The sugar may have browned a little, but doesn’t otherwise change as much during baking.

          Hope that helps!

  3. Hi, I really love this page as I am interested in the food science and bakeries. I was wondering if it you were going to help me with my problem. I made Choux Au Craquelin using a different recipe and when I have assembled it to but while it was baking it raised but it wasn’t hollow in the middle. The top raised but the bottom of it also seemed to raised up as well. I’m not sure why but I was hoping that you might know and could help me out.
    Thank you

    • Hi Kankanit,

      That’s an interesting phenomenon. It almost seems as if there was something underneath your dough (e.g. a wet spot) that caused the puff to raise up from the sheet. Choux is quite a delicate balance of ingredients for it to work, could you share the recipe you used for the choux itself? It might have been that your moisture content or egg ratios were off which prevented it from raising properly!

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