Choux pastry is the base for many fantastic dishes such as profiteroles, gougères, éclairs, Salammbôs , croquembouches and there is so many sweet or savory fillings that only a book can partially enumerates the different recipes. For a first I suggest that you fill them up with Creme patissiere and cover them with a chocolate sauce.
I provide the basic recipe. Basic means that with your creativity you can make them to your palate and design them as your own. For example the basic recipe is with water but a combination of ½ milk and ½ water provides a finer product.
You do not need fancy mixer to make them. However, a piping bag with a 1 cm or ½ cm nozzle does help. You don’t have a piping bag. No, problem use a heavy-duty zip lock bag and cut one of the bottom corner. I do not advocate spoons but if you feel at ease with that, go ahead.
I have mentioned sugar in my recipe. Personally, I don’t put sugar as sometimes I start with a sweet idea for my choux pastry and switch to a savory dish.
It is important not to have the butter rock solid from the refrigerator and it is nice if all other ingredients are at room temperature.
Making choux pastry requires 2 stages of preparation. The first stage on top of the stove and the second in the oven.
- 250 ml of water.
- Good pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. of sugar (optional)
- 100 gr of butter cut in small cubes
- 125 gr of sifted flour
- 4 regular size eggs.
- Put the butter, water, salt and sugar in a pot over medium heat until the boiling point. At the boiling point (fusion) remove the pot from the heat and add the flour at once. Stir energetically with a spoon
- Put the pot back on the heat to dry the paste (it is called détrempe in French). Cook for maybe less than 30 seconds. I know that my paste is ready when it no longer sticks to the spoon and leaves a thin-film at the bottom of the pot.
- Move the paste to a bowl and add the first egg. Stir until blended. At the beginning you think it is impossible. It feels like a furious chase in a cooking pot. It’s magical when the egg does blend in.
- Add the second egg and blend it to the mass and do the same with the third and fourth egg. The totality of the process is actually fast and should be 5 minutes at most.
- Move the paste to a clean bowl. Place a cling film or grease proof paper on top of the paste if you are not going to use it right away to avoid a crust.
- Pre-heat your oven to 200 Celsius
- Transfer the paste to a piping bag with 1 cm tip or less if you want smaller choux.
- Pipe the paste in even width and height. Be steady and precise, it is a small technique worth learning. Leave ample space between them. Pat down with a wet finger the tip of each choux ( when using a piping bag)
- If you wish, you may brush an egg wash only on top of each choux. I prefer an egg yolk mix with 1 tbsp. of milk. Be careful as any egg wash on the sides of the choux will make them harder to rise
- Bake for 20 minutes or longer for larger choux until the choux colors a little and are very dry when you tap them.
Now you can do whatever you want with them. You can fill them with cream pastry, ice cream, cream cheese, cheese, Chantilly cream and whatever fits your imagination.
Tips – Fried small balls of choux pastry dusted with icing sugar is called pet de nonne in French which is nicely translated in English as Nun’s puff. The real translation of pet de nonne is Nun’s fart.
Gnocchi a la Parisienne – not to be confused with the Italian Gnocchi – is a dish made with choux pastry paste drop in small amount in boiling water.