Monday, February 19, 2007
My mother does not have a sweet tooth. (I, as some may have noticed, do. That is why I was driven to experiment with baking from a young age.) There is only one sweet treat which makes her lose all self-control: chouquettes. These cream-less cream puffs, sprinkled with large granulated sugar crystals, are often displayed in a basket near the cash register in French boulangeries. My mother has been known to finish a 100g bag of chouquettes on her five-minute drive home.
A while back I made some chou pastry for gougères, and was not entirely convinced by the recipe (too hard and crunchy). I then tried the following recipe with better results, and having located some of this granulated sugar I was able to make chouquettes. They're quite easy to make. Mom, come visit, I'll bake you a batch!
Recipe: Pâte à choux
For making cream puffs or eclairs or chouquettes or profiteroles (or gougères if you omit sugar and add cheese).
Source: Larousse du chocolat, Pierre Hermé
- 13 cl water
- 13 cl whole milk
[I only had "demi-écrémé," which I believe is 2%]
- 1 tspn sugar
- 1 tspn salt
- 110g butter
- 140 flour
- 5 eggs
- granulated sugar
["Sucre perlé." In France you might be able to buy some in large supermarkets, I bought mine at G. Detou.]
- Optional: egg wash made of egg yolk diluted with a little water or milk
Preheat oven to 190°C.
Pour water, milk, sugar and salt into a medium-sized pot. Mix well, and add the butter. Bring to a boil while stirring with a wooden spatula. As soon as the liquid boils, pour in the flour in one movement. Rapidly stir with the spatula until the dough becomes smooth and homogenous. Continue stirring for 2 or 3 minutes, so that the dough dries out a little and no longer sticks to the sides of the pot.
Without waiting, pour the dough into a big bowl. Break an egg in a little bowl and pour it into the dough. Mix it in well. [I used my hand mixer at this point]. Add the rest of the eggs in one by one in this way, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one.
Continue to mix the dough vigorously, lifting it now and then. It is ready when it falls in the shape of a ribbon [Not sure what that means].
At this stage the dough must be baked without waiting*. Pour it into a pastry bag with a largish smooth tip [size 10 in France, or 1 cm wide?] and form the shape(s) you wish on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
*[I'm not sure why this is specified. I left a large portion of dough at room temperature, sealed in my plastic piping bag, and formed chouquettes a few hours later. They came out fine.]
For chouquettes, form individual balls the size of a walnut? 4 cm in diameter?, not too close together so there's room for them to swell. You can brush them with egg yolk mixed with a little water or milk[optional, Hermé doesn't mention this]. Then sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake them for 5 minutes in a closed oven, then 15 minutes with a wooden spoon inserted in the door to keep it open a crack. Let the puffs cool on a rack. (For eclairs it would be more like 18 to 20 minutes after the first 5 minutes).