Hot Chocolate Cream Puffs

I can't believe Christmas is just four days away! It seems like it was November just a few days ago… I guess when you're working as much as I am, the days seem to blur together. My days are all very much the same - wake up, go to work for 12 hours, come home, eat something (anything, really. Instant noodles have been my dinner for the first time since, well, last Christmas), and go right to bed. Aaaaand wake up and do it all again! I used to be so excited for Christmas, it was my favourite time of the year. I would figure out gifts in October, decorate in November, listen to Christmas music all throughout December, and wrap my gifts weeks in advance.

It's December 21st and I only bought gifts last week, they're not wrapped yet, my decorations went up in mid-December, and I think I've listened to Christmas music twice. Honestly, I can't wait for Christmas to be over so I can relax and sleep! But at the same time, I still love Christmas and I really wish I could have more time to enjoy it.

I do have to count myself lucky because I have Christmas and the three days after off work, which not everyone has. I'd hate to have to work on Christmas Day, but a lot of people do. Bus drivers, taxi drivers, convenience store workers, anyone who works in a hotel, retail workers, and lots of others. My boyfriend used to work in a hotel and he would work Christmas Day because all his family lived back in England, so he had no one to spend it with anyways, which I think is the saddest thought of all! I always try to be extra nice to anyone I encounter on Christmas Day that happens to be working, because the last thing they need is someone making their day any worse.

So as much as I whine about working long hours and long weeks during the Christmas season, I digress. It could always be worse and throwing myself a pity party doesn't help at all. 

What always helps, however, is a big mug of warm and rich hot chocolate. Even better with marshmallows. And better still with marshmallows and whipped cream. I decided to take that ultimate wintery pick-me-up and turn it into a cream puff. Rich dark chocolate mousse, light and creamy vanilla bean chantilly, and toasted meringue, all encompassed in a crunchy little puff. The perfect two-bite snack for a cold winters night.

Pâte à Choux

125 g water
125 g whole milk
5 g superfine sugar
5 g fleur de sel
110 g unsalted butter
140 g all-purpose flour
250 g eggs

Dark Chocolate Mousse
Recipe from Elements of Dessert

120 g eggs
50 g sugar
160 g good quality dark chocolate (70-73%), finely chopped
263 g heavy cream

Vanilla Bean Chantilly

100 g heavy cream
10 g icing sugar
2 g vanilla paste

Swiss Meringue

75 g egg whites
112 g granulated sugar

Prepare the choux paste. In a saucepan, bring the water, milk, sugar, salt, and butter to a boy. With the saucepan still over the heat, add the flour all at once. Beat hard with a wooden spoon until the paste is smooth and shiny and continue being until the paste comes away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the paste to a bowl and incorporate the eggs one at a time, beating constantly. Transfer the finished paste to a piping bag fitted with a plain #14 pastry tip.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pipe out 12 to 14 choux balls about 2 1/2 inches (6.5 cm) in diameter and 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) tall, arranging them on the lined baking sheet about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. (Note: I use a 1 inch diameter demi sphere mold for my choux, freeze, then unmold onto the baking sheet). You can dust the choux with sifted cocoa powder if you wish. Place them in the oven and turn the oven off. Keep the oven off for ten minutes. Turn the oven back on to 350 F and continue baking the choux, After ten minutes, slide a wooden cooking spoon between the oven and its door to keep it partly open. Bake for another ten minutes. Transfer the choux to a wire rack to cool. Once they have cooled, use a toothpick or similar tool to create a small hole in the bottom of each puff, large enough for your smallest circular piping tip to fit through. 

For the chantilly, combine the cream, icing sugar, and vanilla paste in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Whip to stiff peaks, transfer to a piping bag fitted with the smallest circular tip you have, and set in the fridge.

For the chocolate mousse, whip the heavy cream to medium peaks and set aside in the fridge.

Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and place over a hot water bath while whisking constantly until it reaches 60 C/ 140 F.

Remove the mixture from the heat and place it in the stand mixer. Whip on high speed until it cools to about 35 C/ 95 F and creates ribbons, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate over the hot water bath. Let it cool to 35 C/ 95 F.

Once both the egg mixture and the chocolate are at the correct temperatures, whisk the egg into the chocolate until evenly combined. Fold half of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining half. Transfer to a piping bag with a small circular tip.

To assemble, pipe a small about of chantilly into the puff through the hole in the bottom. Shake the puff so the cream sits at the bottom of the puff (you are holding it upside down as you do this, so the bottom is actually the top). Pipe in the chocolate mousse until the puff is full. Set it down, right side up, on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining puffs. Reserve in the fridge while you make the meringue. 

For the swiss meringue, whisk together the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and place over a double boiler. Whisking constantly, warm the egg whites until the mixture is no longer gritty. Immediately transfer to the stand mixer and whip on medium-high for 4 minutes, until glossy and no longer warm.

Dip the cream puff into the meringue. Shake the excess off gently and return the puff to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining puffs.

Torch the meringue using a handheld torch. Serve immediately.


  1. These are brilliant Megan. I love choux puffs/buns they taste great and I really like when they're filled from the bottom so you have no idea what's really inside until you take a bite!

    Have a fabulous christmas and thanks for all of the inspiring blog posts.

    Angela x

    1. Thank you! I love that aspect of them, too, they're like a little surprise! It's always fun to see the layers in them :)

      I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

  2. Hi Megan,
    I am interested to know why after putting the puffs in the oven why you then turn it off, what is the benefit of this? I love your post and look forward to getting them, I pin all of your work, they are so pretty even though I know some of them I will never make (too complicated or the ingredients are unavailable here in Australia),these I can manage.
    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a well earned break.

    1. Hi Carol,

      That is the way that the author of the book (Pierre Herme) bakes them, but it's not a necessity for every choux recipe. Different people have different ways of baking them. The goal is to create a crispy outside and a dry inside. This is usually achieved through high heat for a short period of time to get the outside colour, then a longer, lower temperature bake to cook the inside slowly. It's like making a cup of tea - some people put the teabag in the teapot and have the milk and sugar in a mug (like me). Some people put the teabag in the mug and then add milk and sugar after (like my boyfriend). As long as the end result is the same, then it doesn't matter!
      I did have a wonderful and very relaxing Christmas, I hope you did as well!

  3. Beautiful and so creative!! Merry Christmas!

  4. Hello id love to know the difference between a mousse that contains sheets of gelatine and then there are others type of mousse that dont but require eggs, love your blog

    1. Mousses need something to set them, to make them solid (as opposed to a goopy liquid). Different things can do that. Gelatine, of course, is a great setting agent because it is easy to use and gives a good texture when used properly. However, dark chocolate can be used as a setting agent because of the cocoa mass content in it. This cocoa mass (the amount of ground, roasted cocoa beans) in the dark chocolate sets quickly into a solid again after it is melted. In this recipe, because there is so much dark chocolate, no other setting agent is required!

      So, if you're making a mousse without dark chocolate or with just a little bit of dark chocolate, the recipe will probably call for gelatine. But if it has a large amount of dark chocolate, it probably won't.