Not too long ago, I started rewatching the Great British Baking Show. Yes, rewatching. I'm obsessed. Not only is it entertaining, but it also gives me inspiration for my own bakes. In one of the pastry episodes, the challenge was to make cream puffs and one of the contestants created key lime cream puffs. I absolutely loved the idea so I decided to make a batch myself. Let me tell you, they're absolutely delicious.
Key Lime Cream Puffs
Graham cracker craquelin
- ½ cup all-purpose flour (75 grams)
- ⅓ cup brown sugar (67 grams)
- ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs (33 grams)
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup cold butter cut into small chunks (113 grams)
Key lime curd
- ¾ cup key lime juice (185 ml)
- 1 tbsp key lime zest
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tbsp butter (28 grams)
- ½ cup butter cut into small chunks (113 grams)
- 1 cup water (250 ml)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (150 grams)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream (375 ml)
- ¾ cup powdered sugar (98 grams)
- Make the graham crakcer craquelin. Pulse together the flour, brown sugar, graham cracker crumbs, salt, cinnamon, and butter in a food processor until it forms a dough, about 1 minute. Shape the dough into a disc and place it between two sheets of parchment paper or wax paper. Roll out the dough until it's ⅛-inch thick and chill in the fridge for 1 hour or in the freezer for 30 minutes. Cut out 2-inch circle discs and keep them in the fridge until ready to use.
- Meanwhile, make the key lime curd. Whisk together the key lime juice and zest, sugar, and eggs and egg yolk in a heat-safe bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn't directly touch the water. Whisking frequently, continue to cook the curd until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter until it's fully incorporated. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the surface of the curd and let cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Make the cream puffs. Combine the butter with water and salt in a heavy saucepot. Heat over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Lower the heat to low and add the flour to the butter-water mixture. Beat with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Remove from heat and add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each egg before adding the next.
- Transfer the choux pastry to a piping bag and pipe 16 cream puffs on the baking sheets (8 per sheet pan), giving them plenty of space in between. Place a graham cracker craquelin disc on top of each of the cream puffs. Bake the cream puffs for 20-25 minutes, rotating the sheet pan halfway through. The cream puffs are ready when both the tops and bottoms of the puffs are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the whipped cream. Whip the heavy cream with powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag.
- Cut the cream puffs in half. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the key lime curd in the center and pipe the whipped cream around the curd. Sprinkle lime zest and place the top of cream puff on top. Serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
These key lime cream puffs have three components, the graham cracker craquelin, the whipped cream, and the key lime curd. Yes, this dessert does take some time but luckily, you can prepare some of the elements beforehand. So let's jump right in, shall we?
First, prepare the key lime curd. You can prepare the curd up to 3 days in advance. This curd is similar to lemon curd except you're replacing the lemons with key limes. Use fresh key lime juice for the best flavor.
Every time I decide to make a key lime dessert, I remember how tedious it is to juice them. But then once the dessert is complete, I also remember why I go through with it. They're just so delicious.
Whisk together the key lime juice with the eggs and egg yolk, sugar, and lime zest and cook the mixture over a double boiler until it thickens. Using a double boiler takes longer for the curd to thicken but it also is the safer method. If you cook the curd directly in a pot, the eggs can curdle and the mixture can cook unevenly.
While the curd is cooling, make the craquelin. Pusle together the dry ingredients with the butter in a food a processor until it becomes a dough. Roll out the dough until it's ⅛ inch thick, then chill it in the fridge until it's firm, about 1 hour. Cut out 2-inch circles and keep it in the fridge until you're ready to use.
Next, make the choux pastry. Choux pastry is pastry dough that only includes four ingredients, flour, water, eggs, and butter. The idea is to incorporate a lot of moisture to the dough so that when it bakes, the steam from the water lets it rise. Pretty spectacular, right?
Once the water and butter come to a rolling boil, add the flour and beat well with a wooden spoon. Use your arm muscles and beat together the eggs with the flour, adding one at a time until it's fully incorporated. Now, transfer the choux pastry to a piping bag and pipe 16 cream puffs on lined baking sheet pans.
Top each cream puff with the graham cracker craquelin and bake the cream puffs until golden brown. The tops will brown quicker then the actual cream puffs so check the bottoms too to make sure they're fully cooked.
Let the cream puffs cool completely, then cut them in half. Put a dollop of the key lime curd in the center and pipe whipped cream around the curd. Sprinkle freshly grated lime zest on top and stack the other bun on top.
Serve these key lime cream puffs fresh since the pastries can get soggy after a while.
If you like key lime as much as I do, I think you'll truly enjoy this dessert. Each bite is bursting with the tart curd, perfectly sweet whipped cream, and crunchy craquelin. An overall winner if you can ask me. Now time for the next Great British Baking Show episode!
For more key lime inspiration, check out these strawberry key lime pie bars.