I was inspired by the latest episode of Game of Thrones to make these choux pastries, color the craquelin with dark cocoa, and call them Greyscale Cream Puffs!
Greyscale Cream Puffs (adapted from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan) makes 24 cream puffs For the vanilla diplomat cream:
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
1 cup whipped cream
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add to a small saucepan with the milk and bring to a boil. Cover and let steep for 10-60 minutes.
Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch in a small mixing bowl. Bring the milk back to a boil and stream a 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the egg yolks while whisking. Whisk in the rest of the hot milk and return to the saucepan. Bring to a boil whisk whisking continuously. Whisk for another minute until thickened and remove from the heat. Let sit for 10 minutes then whisk in the butter. Press a piece of cling film to the top of the cream and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Fold in the whipped cream when ready to use.
For the craquelin:
65 grams unsalted butter
100 grams light brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
20 grams dark cocoa powder
65 grams all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Let the butter for the craquelin sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, then cut into small cubes. Use a food processor to process the butter, brown sugar, and salt until almost blended. Add the cocoa powder and flour and pulse until you get small curds. Add the vanilla and pulse until mixed.
Dump the mixture onto a large piece of parchment paper. Make a disk and then roll it out to 1/16" thickness and cover with another piece of parchment. Use a cutting board to transfer it to the freezer and freeze for at least 2 hours. Use a 1 1/2" cookie cutter to cut out 24 circles and return the circles to the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
For the cream puff:
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
136 grams all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
Position your oven racks so they divide the space in thirds and preheat the oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Dump all the flour in at once, lower the heat, and start stirring with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms and a thin film begins to form on the bottom of the saucepan.
Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and let cool for 3 minutes. Using the paddle attachment, beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
Use a medium cookie scooper (one with a 1 1/2 tablespoon capacity and 1 1/2" diameter) to portion out 24 scoops onto the two baking sheets. Place a frozen round of craquelin dough on top of each scoop.
Place the baking sheets in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 375°F. Bake for 20 minutes then rotate the baking sheets. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Use a pastry bag with a small round trip attached to pipe the diplomat cream into the cream puffs and serve.