This dark chocolate crémeux is incredibly creamy and rich with a silky, smooth texture that melts in your mouth! If you’re into baking shows, you might have heard about crémeux. And if you haven’t heard of it, or haven’t tried making any yet, then it’s time to change this!
What Is Crémeux?
Translated from French, it actually means “creamy”. A crémeux starts off with a crème Anglaise, that is later thickened with the addition of butter or gelatin1. When making dark chocolate crémeux, the chocolate will act as a thickener.
If you missed the post on how to make crème Anglaise, head over there for tips and step-by-step pictures. As a quick reminder, crème Anglaise is mainly composed of:
- egg yolks
- milk/heavy cream
Unlike pastry cream, crème Anglaise does not contain flour or cornstarch to thicken it and is more like a sauce.
Chocolate crémeux versus ganache
A chocolate ganache is a combination of heavy cream and chocolate. A chocolate crémeux on the other hand is composed of crème Anglaise and chocolate. Since the crémeux contains egg yolks, it is richer and smoother than a ganache.
Chocolate crémeux versus mousse
A chocolate mousse is a ganache lightened with whipped cream and sometimes an egg foam (pâte à bombe, meringue). As such, it is lighter and airier than a crémeux.
How To Use Crémeux
You can use crémeux in numerous desserts and flavor it in so many different ways. Chocolate, coffee, fruits, nuts, caramel can all be added to crémeux.
The resulting cream can be cooled down in molds and placed within cakes or on tarts once firm. Or it can be piped on choux pastry or tartlets, adding volume and color. I used the dark chocolate crémeux to make these delicious triple chocolate eclairs.
Chocolate Crémeux Variations
Soft versus firm
How firm or soft your crémeux is will depend on several things:
- The type of chocolate used: This recipe calls for dark chocolate (65% cocoa) for a firm, pipeable crémeux (once chilled). The less cocoa butter there is in your chocolate, the softer the crémeux. The more there is, the stiffer the crémeux will be. For best results, use chocolate with a similar percentage of cocoa to the one stated in the recipe. If there is a large difference, you’ll have to make several adjustments to get the desired flavor and texture.
- The amount of chocolate used: Since the chocolate acts as the thickener, the less chocolate you use, the softer and runnier the crémeux will be.
- The type of liquid used: We will be using equal amounts of milk and heavy cream in this recipe. But if you’d like a runnier crémeux, you can replace part of the heavy cream with milk. Conversely, using more heavy cream than milk will give you a thicker crémeux.
- The amount of liquid used: If you don’t have the chocolate the recipe calls for, you might be tempted to simply swap it with another chocolate. But you might need to add more liquids when using chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa. Or less liquids, for a sweeter chocolate.
Milk chocolate crémeux
If you wish to swap the dark chocolate with milk chocolate, you’ll have to make some adjustments to the recipe. You’ll need more chocolate, to firm up the crémeux since milk chocolate contains less cocoa butter than dark chocolate.
You’ll also need to reduce the sugar since milk chocolate is sweeter. Use couverture milk chocolate, which has a higher amount of cocoa butter than regular chocolate. You’ll find a milk chocolate crémeux recipe in the recipe card notes.
If using white chocolate (couverture), you’ll need to add more chocolate and decrease the sugar. Just like you would with milk chocolate. But you will also need to add a little bit of gelatin to firm up the crémeux.
Prepare the chocolate
You have two options. You can either:
- Melt the chocolate beforehand: Coarsely chop the chocolate and place in a large microwavable bowl. Melt in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring in between. This is my preferred method nowadays to ensure all the chocolate is melted. You can melt the chocolate over a double boiler if you prefer.
- Finely chop the chocolate: The chocolate will melt when you pour the hot crème Anglaise over it. You should make sure however that the chocolate pieces aren’t too big or the chocolate won’t melt evenly. If using this method, I’d recommend using an immersion blender when mixing the chocolate and crème Anglaise. Place the chopped chocolate in a tall container. If you don’t have one, just use a narrow bowl. You don’t want a flat layer of chocolate or you risk incorporating too many air bubbles when you mix in the crème Anglaise.
Now that the chocolate is ready, let’s move on to the crème Anglaise.
Prepare the crème Anglaise
- Boil the milk and the heavy cream in a small pot over medium-high heat (it’s hot enough when the first bubbles appear).
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a small bowl. The mixture shouldn’t increase in volume or lighten in color. You don’t want to add too many air bubbles. You just need to mix until combined.
- Tempering the eggs: Slowly add the hot liquids (milk and heavy cream) to the egg mixture, while stirring constantly.
Why temper the eggs? If the eggs are exposed to a high temperature too quickly, they will curdle. To prevent this, it’s best to slowly raise the temperature of the eggs by adding a warm liquid.
- Pour back into the pot and place over medium-low heat. Keep heating, stirring constantly with a spatula, until the cream thickens slightly and coats the spatula. If you run a clean finger through it, your finger trace should remain. Be careful it’s very hot! An instant-read thermometer should register about 82°C (180°F). Make sure it does not exceed 85°C (185°F), or the eggs will curdle. Your crème Anglaise will be lumpy and might taste eggy.
Pour the crème Anglaise over the chocolate
- Remove from the heat. Then strain the crème Anglaise through a fine mesh sieve over the chocolate to remove any unwanted particles (such as cooked eggs). I actually left the milk on the heat while taking pictures and a film formed on the surface. Straining it will get rid of this.
- Let the cream-chocolate mixture rest for a minute before stirring.
Mix the chocolate crémeux until smooth
Mixing with a spatula: If you melted the chocolate beforehand, you can use a spatula to fully incorporate the chocolate into the crème Anglaise. Stir the mixture in a circular motion, making sure to go through the center of the cream. The crémeux should look smooth and shiny. If you want to be sure the crémeux is perfectly smooth, you can strain it through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl once you are done. You can also use an immersion blender if you prefer. Make sure your bowl can handle it or transfer to another container before mixing.
Mixing with an immersion blender: Keep the blender under the surface of the chocolate crémeux as much as possible to avoid air bubbles.
Chill the chocolate crémeux
Once the crémeux is smooth, you can either:
- Transfer the crémeux to a wide container so that it cools down quickly. Press cling film or a piece of parchment paper over the surface to prevent a film from forming.
- Fill your molds, tarts or even a piping bag for future use. Just make sure to close it properly and don’t cut off the bottom of the bag as the crémeux is still runny. If you plan on piping the crémeux, refrigerate it for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight so that it thickens properly.
Making crémeux is pretty straightforward once you know how to make crème Anglaise. But let’s talk about a few issues you might come across.
Why is my crémeux grainy?
- You overcooked the crème Anglaise: Don’t cook it at a high temperature or for too long. Remove from the heat as soon as it reaches 82°C (180°F). Make sure it does not exceed 85°C (185°F) or the eggs will start to curdle and the texture will be grainy. Solution: Use an immersion blender to smoothen the cream then strain it through a fine mesh sieve.
- You didn’t stir the crème Anglaise enough: Stir constantly while cooking the crème Anglaise. Use a spatula (not a whisk) to get to all the edges. Solution: Strain it through a fine mesh sieve before using it.
- The chocolate didn’t melt fully: It’s best to melt the chocolate beforehand, to make it easier to combine with the crème Anglaise.
- You waited too long before combining the crème Anglaise and chocolate: The crème Anglaise should be hot when you pour it over the chocolate. If it isn’t, the chocolate will become grainy.
Why is my chocolate crémeux runny?
- The chocolate you used had a low percentage of cocoa: This recipe calls for dark chocolate (65% cocoa). The cocoa percentage will determine how firm the crémeux is. The darker the chocolate, the more firm the chocolate crémeux. Conversely, using sweet chocolate will yield a runnier chocolate crémeux.
- The crème Anglaise was undercooked: You should heat it until slightly thickened. If you remove it too soon, it will be too thin.
- It isn’t cold enough: The crémeux will thicken as it cools down. If you don’t wait long enough or your kitchen is very warm, it will be softer.
- You used low fat milk/cream: It’s best to use full fat for a richer and thicker crémeux.
Condensation on the chocolate crémeux
If you refrigerate the crémeux while it is still warm, you might notice little droplets on it when you start piping. Solution: Wait for the crémeux to cool down properly at room temperature before refrigerating it.
The orange crémeux pictured here is an example of a terrible emulsion. I did not use an immersion blender and you can see (and taste) the separated butter. Solution: Use an immersion blender or mix vigorously until smooth.
And that’s it! This chocolate crémeux tastes amazing and is very easy to pipe if you refrigerate it enough. You can use it to make triple chocolate éclairs!
In case you missed it, head over to the crème Anglaise baking calendar to see what we’ll be learning this month.
This post was originally published on February 16, 2021. I updated it with new pictures and more information.
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1Suas, M. (2008). Advanced Bread and Pastry: A Professional Approach (1st ed.). Delmar Cengage Learning.
Thank you so much for your reply! I am sorry; for some reason, I didn’t receive a notification and just came across it by accident. My mould is 2 inches in height and I decided to go with a stand alone mousse instead because, as you suggested, this is quite a large mould. I served it alongside my chocolate flourless cake that was covered in ganache. It was a very “rich” evening to say the least, but oh so delicious.
Sounds perfect! I’m sure your guests were absolutely delighted!
Hi, Thank you for your very clear instructions. I am looking for a chocolate crémeux (NOT white chocolate) that I can place in a silicone mold to use on top of a 8 inch cake. Since it will need to be removed from the mold, I imagine it needs to contain gelatine and will need to be frozen first. Can I adapt your recipe somehow for this and if so, can you please advise how?
I am trying to figure out what type of cake to make that will go with a crémeux as well. Thank you!
Hey Michelle! I haven’t tried this cremeux in a large silicone mold so I’m not completely sure how it will turn out. But if you’re making it with dark chocolate (65% cocoa), I don’t think you’ll need to add gelatin or change anything. It is quite firm and holds well although you will need to freeze it first to unmold it. I have tried it in small dome shaped silicone molds and it was very easy to unmold after about 4 hours in the freezer and kept its shape well. I’ve also poured it in a small fluted tube pan with a lot of patterns. This one was a bit trickier to unmold but I froze it overnight and it was fine. For a large mold, I’d say freeze it overnight as well. Valrhona recommends refrigerating the cremeux before freezing it. I didn’t bother for the small molds and just froze them. But maybe you would need to do that for a large mold to avoid cracks if the mold has a design? How tall is your silicone mold? The cremeux is quite rich so I’m not sure it would be suitable if you’re planning on making a very thick layer. It’s usually paired with a mousse which is lighter and adds height to the cake. Regarding the cake, it depends on what you’re going for. But I think it would be nice with hazelnut financier or maybe a dacquoise (nut meringue, recipe coming soon). You could also make a brownie base with chopped nuts. Hope this helps!