Choux pastry is my favourite kind of pastry because it is the perfect vessel for whipped cream or custard. It is a socially acceptable method for shovelling custard into my pie hole. I like to eat Chantilly cream straight from the bowl with a spoon, but people tend to frown upon that. Put that shit in an eclair though, and we’re all good.
Choux pastry is a delightful, crispy shelled mode of transport for delicious things to make their way in to my mouth.
It’s also a very versatile pastry. By which I mean you can pipe it into different shapes. With this one basic recipe you can make choux buns, chouqettes, eclairs, profiteroles, Paris Brest… And once the shells are baked and filled, the outside can be decorated with boundless imagination. All one needs to do is type eclair in to pintrest to see the hundreds of wonderful creations to inspire you. And to terrify you.
I know a lot of home cooks are put off by the seemingly daunting task of making choux. It’s so mysterious. What even is it? It’s called a pastry but it’s made in a saucepan and the paste looks like a gloopy mess waiting to happen! It looks difficult and faffy. Do I even have all the right equipment in my kitchen?
First things first; pull yourself together. It’s not anywhere near as difficult as you think. The most technical piece of kit you need for this is accurate scales. Being precise with your weighing up is very important when it comes to patisserie. It may look like an art but trust me, it’s a mysterious fucking science.
So here goes: here’s a recipe for choux pastry and a recipe for creme patissier. I’ve made little chocolate chouqettes (like profiteroles but less 70s sounding) as an easy introduction to choux pastry.
N.B you will need to strong arm for this, there is a lot of beating involved.
- 125g whole milk
- 125g water
- 100g butter, cubed
- 5g salt
- 10g sugar
- 150g plain flour
- 4 eggs
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees/Gas mark 5. Line 2 large baking sheets with non stick parchment.
- Weigh and prepare all of your ingredients.
- Heat the milk and water in a large pan on a medium heat. Stir in the butter until it has melted completely. Add the salt and sugar.
- When the melted butter/milk is almost at a boil, turn the heat to low and quickly throw the flour in and start mixing with a wooden spoon. Once the flour has been fully incorporated, turn the heat back to medium and continue to beat the mixture. At this point you should be mixing quite vigorously, in order to dry out the paste. Keep going for 1 minute. You should have a ball of paste.
- Turn the paste out in to a large mixing bowl. Continue to beat for about 30 seconds to let some of the steam out and to help it cool.
- Next add the eggs, one at a time. You need to completely combine one egg before you add the next. Make sure you work quickly though as at this point the paste will be hot enough to start cooking the egg, so keep beating.
- Once you’ve addd all of the eggs, so should be left with a not-quite-liquid paste which plops off of your spoon.
- Transfer the paste to a piping bag. Snip the end off the bag to leave a hole of about 1.5cm.
- Pipe the choux pastry into rounds about the size of a tea light candle. Make sure you leave plenty of space around them as they do expand a lot. If you have any spiky tips sticking up, use a wet finger to dab them flat.
- Bake for 8-12 minutes, depending on how feisty your oven is.
- When the chouqettes are done they should be round, hollow and crispy with a rich golden colour. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Chocolate Creme Patissier
- 250g milk
- 100g sugar
- 1 egg
- 25g cornflour
- 100g dark chocolate
- Heat the milk in a pan until it begins to simmer.
- Mix the egg, sugar and cornflour in a bowl until smooth.
- Pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
- Once well combined, pour the whole mixture back in to the pan and heat on low.
- Stir constantly until the cream is thickened.
- If you heat too vigorously and lumps start to appear, remove from the heat and whisk until smooth.
- Break the chocolate and stir into the cream until completely melted.
- Lay cling film over the surface of the cream and allow to cool.
- Once the shells and the chocolate creme patissier have both cooled to room temperature you are ready to pipe.
- Use a small, sharp knife to make a little hole in each shell.
- Fit a piping bag with a small, metal piping tip and fill with the chocolate cream.
- Pipe the filling in to each shell. Not too much though, or it will spurt out.
- Once each shell is full, arrange artfully on a plate and dust with icing sugar.
- Eat with reckless abandon and enjoy!