This Chocolate Cremeux - or Crémeux au Chocolat - is a classic French cream that has an incredibly silky texture and intense chocolate flavour. It is great to use as a filling or topping for your favourite cakes and pastries - or on its own as a dessert!
Why we love this recipe
No chocolate cream or frosting is as decadent than this Chocolate Crémeux. It is deliciously soft and creamy and has the most incredible Chocolate taste. Made from 5 simple ingredients, it requires no butter, can be made dairy-free and does not require a lot of sugar.
Just like a Chocolate Pastry Cream, Namelaka and Whipped Ganache Frosting, it has a multitude of uses. From cake (or entremet) and pastry filling (think inside a tart or to fill some choux pastry) to a topping for your favourite cakes, this chocolate cream is super versatile. And you can even serve it own its own as a dessert!
What is a Crémeux
A "Crémeux" is a classic French Pastry recipe that combines a traditional Crème Anglaise (pouring custard) and Chocolate. "Crémeux" means "creamy" in French, and that is simply a great way to define this frosting. It is stable enough to pipe but soft enough to be use as a filling or a dessert.
You will only need 5 ingredients to make this recipe. The ingredients a Cremeux made of (scroll down to recipe card below for all quantities):
- Cream + Milk: used as a 50/50 ratio. Use a full cream milk (whole milk) and thickened / heavy cream (at least 30% fat content) for the best flavours and texture.
- Eggs: you will only need the egg yolks here. Keep the egg whites for another recipe like these Financiers Cakes.
- Chocolate: a good quality Dark Chocolate is highly recommended here. Go for a 70% chocolate or more if you can. Make sure to use a proper Cooking Chocolate or Couverture Chocolate or you risk getting a grainy, lumpy texture.
Substitution & Optional Addition
- Cream and Milk: you can use a plant-based alternative to make this recipe dairy-free. Make sur to use substitutes that are high in fat (no light or reduced fat milk and cream)
- You can flavour the cream with a few other ingredients to play with its flavours: add a little bit of Vanilla to the cream, some instant Coffee Powder, a pinch of Sea Salt, some Orange Zest or even a touch of liquor!
How to make Crémeux au Chocolat
Making the Crème Anglaise
- Photo 1: Place the Cream and Milk in a small saucepan. Heat it up on low heat to medium heat until it starts to simmer, then remove from the stove.
If adding Vanilla, add it at this step as well. For a fresh Vanilla Bean, scrap the seeds into the liquid and let it infuse for 10 to 15 minutes (stove off after it starts to simmer and covered with a lid).
- Photo 2: In the meantime, whisk together the Egg Yolks and Caster Sugar in a heat-proof bowl.
- Photo 3: Slowly pour the hot liquid mixture over the egg/sugar while continuously whisking.
This step allows to temper the eggs (slowly bring up their temperature), which will help avoid cooking them too fast.
- Photo 4: Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and turn on low heat to medium low heat. Make sure it is not too hot; it should not boil.
Cooking the Cream
- Continuously stir with a spatula or whisk for 5 to 10 minutes or until the custard mixture has slightly thickened.
There are two ways to check if the Creme Anglaise is cooked:
- Photo 5: with a thermometer. The cream has to reach 82 to 84 degree celsius (180 to 184 degree Fahrenheit) to be properly cooked. If it goes higher than that, the eggs will over-cook and you will get a grainy or lumpy cream.
- Photo 6: coat the back of a spoon with the custard. Carefully draw an horizontal line (it will be hot) and tip the spoon down. If the line stays clear, the custard is thick enough and ready to be used. If the cream is too liquid (not cooke enough), it will drip over the line.
Optionally if you find small lumps, pour the custard through a thin mesh sieve.
Melting the Chocolate with the Cream
- Photo 7: Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. If using Callet or Pistols (small chunks of couverture chocolate; different than chocolate chips), use them as is. If using a cooking chocolate bar, finely chop it first.
- Pour the hot cream mixture over the Chocolate and let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Photo 8: Using a spatula, gently stir in circular movements to mix the chocolate and the cream.
- Photo 9: Continue to stir until you get a thick, smooth cream.
Alternatively, pour the hot cream on the chocolate, let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes then use an immersion blender to mix them together.
If you find that you still have chunks of unmelted chocolates, you can continue to melt it over a double-boiler ("bain-marie") but on very low temperature to avoid overcooking the custard.
- Photo 10: Transfer the chocolate cremeux in a shallow pan and cover with plastic wrap touching its surface.
- Place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.
Depending on how you plan on using the cremeux, use it straight from the fridge or let it come back to room temperature.
Choose a high quality chocolate with a high percentage of Cocoa (70% Cocoa recommended). Make sure to choose either Couverture Chocolate (what I used here) or a proper Cooking Chocolate. A Chocolate Bar (like a candy bar) or Chocolate Chip won't melt properly.
A Cremeux is a mix between a Pouring Custard (Crème Anglaise - made with egg yolks) and Chocolate. A Ganache is a simple mix of Chocolate and Cream on a 50:50 ratio. Pastry Cream is similar to a Crème Anglaise, but Cornstarch (or flour) is added to the mixture so it is much thicker.
A cremeux does not contain any whipped ingredients like a mousse would (either/or whipped cream or whipped egg whites). While a mousse is soft and airy, a cremeux is more creamy and smooth.
You can if you want, but this chocolate cream is quite stable on its own. It will keep its shape quite well when piped, especially when refrigerated. You might want to consider adding gelatine if using white or milk chocolate (a chocolate with low percentage of cocoa butter) as the cream won't be as stable as with dark chocolate.
Tips & Troubleshooting
- How long does it take to set: this cremeux recipe takes at least 2 hours to set, but I recommend leaving it in the fridge overnight. You will get the perfect texture and even more delicious flavour as it chills!
- The custard base is too liquid: it is simply not cooked enough. It needs to reach 82'c / 180'f to be properly cooked! But note that this mixture will be much thiner than a pastry cream or custard. You could also have used a low fat or light cream and milk, which is not recommended here.
- The cremeux is grainy or lumpy: usually happens when the egg yolks were cooked too quickly or too much, or the chocolate was melted at a temperature too high. You can try to pour it through a thin mesh sieve to remove lumps, or very slowly blend the cream with an immersion blender.
- The cream has split: this is usually the sign of a bad emulsion, meaning that the fat and liquid are not well combined. Try to whisk it vigorously and if it still has the same consistency, you can try to slowly blend it with an immersion blender.
- The cream won't set: it needs more time to chill. Because of the cocoa butter contained inside the chocolate as well as the egg yolks, there is no reason the cremeux should not set - unless you did not use the right quantities (or the wrong chocolate).
- The chocolate cremeux is too runny: either the custard was not cooked enough or the cremeux wasn't chilled for long enough. Also note that this recipe was developed for Dark Chocolate; Milk or White Chocolate contain a different amount of cocoa butter which will give you a different consistency.
How to use this chocolate cream
- Inside a Layer Cake or Entremet.
- Used to decorate cakes and pastries - or any other ways you would use a buttercream or frosting. I used this recipe as a topping for Chocolate Financiers for example.
- This chocolate cremeux recipe will also make a delicious dessert on its own, served in a cup with some whipped cream or some poached fruits like Stewed Pears.
Storing & Freezing
This crémeux recipe is best used within 3 days. It should be kept in the fridge in an air-tight container or a bowl covered with plastic wrap touching its surface.
I don't recommend freezing this chocolate cream as it will affect its texture and you won't get such a nice silky smooth consistency. This is except if you are freezing a cake or entremet in order to set it.
- 150 ml Heavy / Thickened Cream
- 150 ml Full Cream / Whole Milk
- 3 Egg Yolks - about 60 grams
- 50 gr Caster Sugar
- 150 gr Dark Cooking Chocolate - or Couverture Chocolate
I highly recommend using the measurements in grams & ml (instead of cups & spoons) for more accuracy and better results.
- Place the Cream and Milk in a small saucepan. Turn on low to medium low heat and bring to a simmer.
- In the meantime, whisk together the Egg Yolks and Caster Sugar in a separate heat-proof bowl.
- Slowly pour the hot Milk/Cream over the Egg Yolks and Sugar while continuously whisking (see note 1). Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place it back on the stove on low heat, making sure it does not boil.
- Continuously stir on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until the custard mixture has slightly thickened (see note 2).
- Place the Chocolate Callets/Pistols or finely chopped Chocolate (from a bar) in a heat proof bowl and pour the warm Custard over it. Leave it for 2 to 3 minutes then stir with a spatula in circular motion until the chocolate has melted and you get a smooth cream (see note 3).
- Transfer the chocolate cremeux in a shallow pan or dish and cover with plastic wrap touching its surface. Place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight. Use within 3 days.
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- with a thermometer: should reach 82 to 84 degree celsius (180 to 184 degree Fahrenheit).
- coat the back of a spoon with the custard and carefully draw an horizontal line (it will be hot). Tip the spoon down. If the line stays clear, the custard is thick enough and ready to be used. If the cream is too liquid (not cooke enough), it will drip over the line.