I won't post the process photos of making the choux or the pastry cream again. I'll just show the steps of how to make the brown sugar crackle. It's actually pretty simple.
No fancy ingredients required.
Mix the brown sugar, butter, and salt in a food processor first, and then add the flour.
Dorie said to pulse the dough until it formed moist curds. I wasn't really sure what that meant so I stopped when it looked like this before adding my vanilla.
I rolled out the dough and froze it overnight.
Right after I prepared the choux and piped it onto my baking sheets, I took the frozen dough out and cut out small circles using a small biscuit cutter.
Into the oven it went, and out came these beauties.
These wouldn't be very good cream puffs if they didn't have cream in them. So in went the pastry cream I made in advance.
These really should be eaten fresh. If you wait too long, the actual cream puff will start getting soggy.
I would make these again. Even though there are three components, two of the three can be made in advance. Actually, the entire thing can be made in advance; you can just freeze the dough right after you put the crackle tops on. That might be a good idea if you just want to pop these in the oven for a quick and fancy breakfast.