Have you ever had the strawberry croissants from Cream Pan? They have become such a favorite of mine that they inspired me to create this copycat recipe at home!
Cream Pan is a small French-Japanese bakery in Orange County, California. They’ve become famous for their irresistible strawberry croissants, making them the kind of bakery that has a line out the door no matter what time of day it is.
While they’re called strawberry croissants, the pastry resembles something more akin to puff pastry than a croissant. But hey, when there’s that much butter laminated in the dough, who’s really going to notice a difference?
The pastry is folded very similar to the way a turnover is done, and topped with some pastry cream and fresh strawberry slices. The finishing touch is a dusting of powdered sugar.
Making Strawberry Croissants at Home
Making these copycat Cream Pan strawberry croissants at home is actually very easy to do, especially if you use puff pastry sheets from the store.
I like to shape the pastry similar to the way I do for recipes like these Pear Feta Tarts. The open-face approach (rather than the turnover approach) makes it easy to top the pastries with the cream filling and strawberry slices.
Make Ahead Recipe
If you’d like to make these strawberry croissants ahead of time, I would suggest taking a deconstructed approach. You can divide your puff pastry into the appropriate amount of squares that you want, cover them, and freeze until you’re ready to bake.
The pastry cream can also be made up to a few days in advance, covered well and kept in the fridge. Once the pastries are fully assembled, they can be stored in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
I would not assemble the pastries any sooner than the day I am serving them (your pastry won’t be as crisp if you do!).
People travel from all over for Cream Pan’s strawberry croissants, but you can feel comforted that with this recipe in hand, you won’t need to!
Puff pastry tarts topped with pasty cream and strawberry slices.
For the pastry cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
For the pastry
- 3 sheets of puff pastry
- 1 egg + 1 tsp water for egg wash
For the topping
- 3/4 lb. strawberries stems removed and cut into thin slices
- powdered sugar to dust on top
To Make the Pastry Cream
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale yellow. Add in the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk everything together to combine.
Add the milk to a saucepan and warm over medium-low heat until steam is rising from the milk, but its not bubbling yet. Do not let the milk simmer or boil.
Once the milk is hot, gradually add the milk to the egg batter in slow, steady batches, whisking the egg batter vigorously as you do.
Rinse the saucepan under water to get rid of any milk that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot, then return the saucepan to the stove. Pour the batter into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking the entire time. You'll want to whisk the cream until it's thickened up like pudding - about 7 to 8 minutes.
Take the saucepan off the stove and whisk in the vanilla paste. Transfer the cream to a clean bowl and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap, placing the plastic wrap directly onto the cream. Refrigerate until chilled - about 2 hours.
To bake the pastry
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat.
Unroll the puff pastry sheets and divide each sheet into 6 squares. Use a fork to pierce all over the pastry squares, leaving the borders of the pastry squares bare (so don't pierce the borders).
Brush the egg wash along the bare borders of the puff pastry. Bake a set of 6 squares in the oven for about 18 minutes, until the edges are golden. Keep the other pastry squares that haven't baked yet in the fridge to stay cool.
Once the pastry has finished baking, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If you want to make the center more depressed, you can gently press your fingers down in the center of the pastry while it's still warm. This will make a slight cavity in the center for the cream filling (making this depression is optional, as the pastry cream is firm enough to simply rest on top of the pastry squares without needing a "nest")
Once the pastry squares are completely cool, add a couple tablespoons of pastry cream to each pastry square, then top with a couple slices of strawberries. Dust powdered sugar on top. Serve immediately or keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
You will end up with a little bit of leftover pastry cream. You can cover and keep in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.