Lemon Cream Puffs

What’s not to love about choux pastries? These lemon cream puffs are no exception. They are dreamy, creamy, and very lemony. If you’ve never had lemon puffs with craquelin, you are in for a real treat! Learn how to make this recipe with my tips and tricks for variations below.

If you really want to master the art of choux pastries (or even learn the foundational basics), join us in my baking program. We’ll make choux in five fun classes.

several lemon cream puffs in a row with lemon curd and stabilized whipped cream on a white backdrop

A Note About This Recipe

As I began this recipe, I thought about what I want you to experience when you make and eat these pastries. Wouldn’t it be disappointing to go through the effort of making something only to be disappointed by the end result? I never want bakers to experience that with my recipes.

Secondly, I try to keep my recipes simple, but the goal is always to give you a memorable recipe(even if it takes a little more work). This recipe is not as simple as some of my others because there are four elements, but the pastries are worth the extra effort!

Third, I have added tips and tricks to help you make these lemon cream puffs with a bit of beauty and design. If you don’t want to copy my design, feel free to try your own! While I create my pastry designs to provide inspiration, this does not mean you need to make yours look the same.

Finally, if you want to simplify, leave off the whipped cream design on top. You may just want to eat the cream puff and forget about the design, and that’s completely fine!

lemon cream puffs with lemon curd and whipped cream and craquelin, sitting on a white backdrop

What’s in Lemon Puffs?

These lemon puffs consist of pâte à choux dough, craquelin, lemon curd, and stabilized whipped cream. Each element is important and helps to create flavor, texture, and variety.

For this recipe, we are making stabilized whipped cream and lemon curd with gelatin. The gelatin serves two purposes:

Gelatin thickens the curd and makes piping designs easier. It also prevents whipped cream from going flat and runny (weepy). We don’t want the filling to deflate and become runny inside the cream puffs; the puffs will become soggy from the moisture.

Essential Baking Tools for This Choux Recipe

  • Kitchen scale
  • Stand mixer with paddle and whisk attachments
  • A rolling pin with 1/8 inch rolling guides
  • Parchment paper half sheets
  • Round cutters (this is my favorite set!)
  • Piping tips: Ateco #803, Ateco #864
  • 3 Piping bags
  • A whisk
  • Small pot and medium glass bowl
  • Fine mesh sifter (small and medium)
  • Lemon juicer
  • Mixing bowls
  • Blender

How to Make Lemon Puffs

This is a general overview of how to make this recipe. Please see the recipe below for the full details.

  1. Make the lemon curd. Bring water in a pot to a simmer. In a medium glass bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, and eggs. Next, place the bowl over simmering water and whisk the curd until it thickens.
  2. Remove the curd from the heat, add the melted gelatin, and mix. Last, add butter and stir for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Chill for several hours.
  4. Make craquelin by combining butter and brown sugar in a mixer and cream together. Add flour and mix. Roll dough out between two sheets of parchment paper to 1/8″ thick, then freeze the dough for at least one hour.
  5. Make pate a choux by cooking the butter, sugar, salt, water, and milk in a pot until it boils. Remove from heat, add the flour, and stir and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Pour dough into a stand mixer and mix to cool the dough.
  7. Add the egg a little at a time until the dough is soft enough to form a drippy bird beak on the end of the paddle.
  8. Pipe the puffs onto a parchment-lined tray, bake, and cool.
  9. Make the stabilized whipped cream, and assemble the lemon puffs.
piping cream puffs
Pipe the cream puffs
hand adding craquelin to cream puffs
Add craquelin to the cream puffs
cream puffs with craquelin on top, ready to bake
Cream puffs are ready to bake

Variations for Filling Lemon Cream Puffs

As I worked on this recipe, I played around with a few variations so I could give you some idea of how else you could fill the puffs. If you do not want to make lemon curd, you can add the zest of a lemon to the whipped cream and use that to fill the pastries.

If you want a softer lemon flavor, fold the lemon curd into the whipped cream. This will make it more like lemon mousse instead of curd and whipped cream.

Any of these variations for filling lemon cream puffs taste delicious, and no one is going to complain about having to eat more during testing (I definitely tried several during the creation process!). If you want more lemon inspiration, take a look at my lemon tartlets recipe or my lemon shortbread cookies!

a lemon cream puff cut in half to show the lemon curd and whipped cream inside

How to Prevent Cream Puffs from Getting Soggy

There are 2 ways to prevent lemon cream puffs from getting soggy.

The first method is to bake the pastries completely until they are well-baked inside and out. They should be nice and golden on the outside and dried out on the inside. To help them dry out, poke a little hole in the bottom of each puff after baking. You can then let them dry out for at least 2 hours before filling.

Second, adding gelatin to the curd and whipped cream helps prevent soggy cream puffs. The gelatin stops the whipped cream and curd from weeping, which can cause soggy shells.

As a note, choux will naturally soften with time. If you make and fill your craquelin lemon cream puffs a few days ahead, they will not be as crisp as they were on day one.

3 Tips for Making Stabilized Whipped Cream

1. Chill the Cream

Why chill the cream? Because cold cream whips up better than room-temperature cream. Chill the cream, the mixing bowl, and the whisk attachment for the best results.

2. Add the Gelatin at the Right Time

Adding the gelatin to the heavy cream before it is whipped to stiff peaks is essential. This will ensure the gelatin blends into the whipped cream properly. If you add the gelatin after the heavy cream is at medium or stiff peaks, it won’t blend in properly.

If you add the gelatin to the cream in the mixer when it’s hot, the whipped cream may become lumpy. To prevent this issue, I recommend tempering the gelatin by adding 2 tablespoons of cold cream to the hot gelatin before adding it to the rest of the cream.

3. Pipe Right Away

Stabilized whipped cream must be used right away. After you whip it, fill a piping bag and pipe it into the pastry shells. If you wait a few hours, the cream will be set and won’t be easy to pipe anymore.

close up of lemon cream puff on a white backdrop

How to Fill Lemon Cream Puffs

One way to fill your puffs is to use a #7 piping tip to poke a hole in the bottom of each pastry. Next, use the #7 tip to fill them with whipped cream and lemon curd through the hole in the bottom.

The second option is to cut off the top 1/4 of the puffs. You can then fill the pastry using a star tip or other tip of your choice.

Both methods work well. There is no limit to the designs you can create, so have fun as you play make these!

How to Store Choux Puffs

The best way to keep lemon puffs fresh is to store them unfilled until you are ready to fill and eat them. If you are not going to fill the puffs the same day you make them, store them in an airtight container for up to two days.

These baked puffs will naturally soften once stored in an airtight container, so place them in the oven at 300 F for up to 5 minutes to restore their crisp texture. You can then fill them with lemon curd and whipped cream.

As another option, place your filled pastries in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Their best quality will be on day 1 though, so I don’t recommend filling them ahead. Their best quality will be on day 1 though, so I don’t recommend filling them ahead.

Can You Freeze Them?

Yes, you can freeze lemon puffs. One way is to freeze the individual elements. Freeze the unfilled cream puffs for up to 1 month; freeze the lemon curd for up to 6 months; and freeze the stabilized whipped cream for up to 6 months.

If you want to freeze the cream puffs filled, you may do this as well. I would recommend leaving off the top garnish so it doesn’t get smashed. Freeze the assembled pastries for up to 2 months.

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Lemon Cream Puffs

close up of lemon cream puff on a white backdrop

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  • Author: Camille
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cool Time: 120 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 40 1x
  • Category: Choux
  • Cuisine: French

Ingredients

Units Scale

Lemon Curd*

  • 75 g granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 55 ml lemon juice, strained**
  • 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
  • 1 tsp cold water
  • 43 g unsalted butter (3 Tbs)

Craquelin

  • 127 g (9 Tbs) unsalted butter, softened
  • 100 g light brown sugar
  • 90 g all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of salt

Pâte à Choux

  • 155 ml (2/3 c) whole milk
  • 78 ml (1/3 c) water
  • 113 g unsalted butter
  • 10 g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 90 g all-purpose flour
  • 30 g cake flour
  • 34 large eggs, room temp

Stabilized Whipped Cream

  • 474 ml heavy whipping cream (2 c), cold
  • 120 g powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp powdered gelatin
  • 8 tsp cold water
  • 2 Tbs heavy cream, cold

Instructions

To Make the Lemon Curd*

  1. Fill a medium pot with 1-2 inches of water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Once the water is simmering, turn the heat down to medium-low so it maintains a simmer.
  2. Combine 1/4 tsp gelatin and 1 tsp cold water in a bowl and stir. Set aside to bloom.
  3. While the water is coming to a simmer, combine the egg yolks, whole eggs, fresh lemon juice, and granulated sugar in a medium glass bowl. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk continuously. Make sure the bottom of your bowl is not touching the water.
  5. Whisk the lemon curd until it’s pale and thickens, about 10-15 minutes.
  6. Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside.
  7. Melt the bloomed gelatin in the microwave for 5-10 seconds, then add to the lemon curd and stir.
  8. Whisk in the butter until melted and smooth.
  9. Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer to remove any scrambled egg bits.
  10. Store the lemon curd in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before using. Chilling allows the curd to set up.

To Make Craquelin

  1. To make the craquelin dough, mix softened butter, salt, and brown sugar with a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until thoroughly combined and creamy. 
  2. Mix in flour and stop as soon as the dough comes together.
  3. Next, roll out the craquelin to 1/8 inch thick between two sheets of parchment paper. Cover and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

To Make Cream Puff Dough 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare the pâte à choux according to the recipe directions.
  2. Once you have made your cream puff dough, pipe it onto parchment-lined baking sheets using an Ateco 803 tip (or something similar). Pipe the puffs so they are approximately 1 1/4 inch wide and 1/2 inch tall.
  3. Take the craquelin out of the freezer. Use a circle cookie cutter slightly larger than the diameter of the piped choux mounds to cut out circles of craquelin to cover the tops of the puffs. Reference the picture in the recipe post to see what the size looks like.
  4. Turn the oven to 350 F as you put your pan of pastries in the oven. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until they are deeply golden brown.
  5. If the craquelin is browning too fast, lightly cover it with foil. Be careful, though! The weight of the foil on the puffs can cause them to deflate, so lightly place the foil on top.
  6. When the pastries come out of the oven, turn each one over and poke a small hole in the bottom with a toothpick so they can dry out for at least 2 hours. 

To Make the Stabilized Whipped Cream

  1. Combine the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl, stir. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then microwave for 5-10 seconds or until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in the 2 tablespoons of cold heavy cream to temper the gelatin. Set aside.
  2. Add 474 ml heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium to soft peaks.
  3. With the mixer still running on medium, add the gelatin in a slow, steady stream. 
  4. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form.

How to Fill Lemon Cream Puffs

  1. Poke a hole in the bottom of each pastry shell with a #7 tip. Set aside.
  2. Spoon the whipped cream into a bag fitted with a #7 tip (or similar). Set aside. 
  3. Remove lemon curd from refrigerator and stir or whisk until smooth. Spoon the curd into a piping bag fitted with a #6 or #7 (or similar) tip. Set aside.
  4. To fill, hold your choux shell upside down in the palm of your hand. Pipe the cream into the pastry shell by inserting the #7 tip into the bottom of the shell. Fill until almost full.
  5. Next, fill with a small amount of lemon curd using a #6 or #7 tip until the puff begins to expand upward a little (this means it’s completely full). Allow any excess curd to come out through the hole in the cream puff, and wipe away. Garnish with more whipped cream and lemon curd on top if desired, or eat as is.
  6. Lemon cream puffs are best eaten on the day you make and fill them, but they can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Notes

*Can double the lemon curd recipe if you want more lemon curd versus whipped cream in each lemon puff.

** You should have 55 ml of lemon juice after removing the lemon pulp from it.

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