I love bakeries. I love the smell, the colors, and the tastes that await me. Even more so when I travel, I have to stop by every bakery that I pass. It’s an obsession. If you sent me for therapy, the counselor will probably uncover the source of my obsession – the many fond childhood memories I have of going to my favorite bakeries around the neighborhood. Those good ol’-fashioned mom-and-pop bakeries, unfortunately, are going out of style and replaced by chain bakeries that have all the bells and whistles, but sometimes lack soul in my humble opinion. As a little girl, I remember gazing at every single creation the bakery had to offer and also found myself admiring choux swans. Aha! Weren’t there seven swans-a-swimming? I know, I’ll make cream puffs in tribute to the choux swans of old.
Choux (pronounced: shu) paste is one of the most versatile doughs. It can be baked into cream puffs, profiteroles, eclairs, and savory gougeres; or deep-fried into churros, beignets and crullers. The unique thing about choux paste is that it is twice-cooked. The dough is cooked over the stove before baking, which results in puffy, large interior air pockets that can later be filled. But first, we’ll have to start with the making the dough.
Pate a Choux
(From Michel Roux’s Pastry: Savoury and Sweet)
Yields: 40-50 small choux buns
100g unsalted butter
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
500ml whipping cream
250g milk or dark chocolate
1. Bring water, butter, sugar and salt to boil in a pot over medium heat.
2. Once boiling, add flour in all at once and stir mixture together with a wooden spoon. The dough should start coming together.
3. Reduce to low heat, and keep stirring mixture for ~ 2-3 min to dry out dough slightly.
4. Remove from heat and cool in a mixer with a paddle on low speed. Or use wooden spoon to stir it around to release the heat in the dough.
5. When dough is at room temperature, add eggs in one a time, beating well in the mixer of with a wooden spoon after each addition.
6. Transfer dough into a piping bag with a round tip (806) and pipe into desired shapes.
7. Brush tops with egg wash (egg yolk beaten with a little water) and bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes until choux buns and eclairs are crisp on the outside and fairly dry on the inside. Cool to room temperature.
8. Meanwhile, whip cream till stiff and add sugar to taste. Melt chocolate in 10 sec bursts in a microwave or over a simmering bain-marie
9. Fill choux buns and eclairs with creme chantilly (just a fancy term for whipped cream!), then dip them in melted chocolate.
10. Enjoy immediately, or best eaten within the same day.
If you missed out on past recipes in the 12 days of Xmas recipes series…
Sixth Day of Xmas: Pavlova
Fifth Day of Xmas: Cardamom Rings
Fourth Day of Xmas: Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin
Third Day of Xmas: Creamy Chicken Pie
Second Day of Xmas: Turtle Bars
First Day of Xmas: Rustic Pear Galette