Chouquettes are tiny little airy pastries that everybody seems to come away from the bakery with and eat one after the other before you know it, the whole bag’s gone. They are so tempting.
But have you ever imagined making them yourself?
Eclairs, religieuse cream pufs, Saint Honorés, profiteroles, pièces montées, chouquettes … Many French pastries are made from the same base, a pastry called choux.
“Too difficult!” I often hear. Not necessarily, if you follow my step-by-step guidelines: simply pour the flour into a mixture of heated water, milk and butter. The flour absorbs all the liquid and puffs up. It must then be stirred for one to two minutes, until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan. Then add beaten eggs et voila!
Originally, this was called “hot dough” because of the aforementioned process of heating the dough to dry it out.
In the 16th century the Italian pastry chef Popelini, serving the Queen Catherine de Medicis, created the “Popelin”, a dessert made by drying dough over a fire. This dough, which had long been known as “hot dough”, was perfected by the pastry chef Avice, and then by his famous apprentice, Antonin Carème (founder of French haute cuisine) to become today’s choux pastry.
There are some variations in the quantity of flour, eggs or milk. Purists follow the rules laid down by Escoffier, with no water. I will give you here a recipe that is simply impossible to mess up.
PS: For Parisians or those planning a visit to our beautiful capital, chefs Alain Ducasse and Christophe Michalak have just opened a kind of food van dedicated to all things choux pastry, just next to the Eiffel Tower.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Quantity: about 50
Specific equipment: piping bag and brush (optional)
125 ml milk
125 ml water
125 gr butter
a pinch of salt (about 4 grams)
140 gr all-purpose flour
4 eggs (large eggs, 60 gr each)
Prepare the choux pastry, form balls, add egg yolk and sugar rocks then bake 10 minutes in the oven.
First prepare the choux pastry (follow the step by step gudelines here)
Prepare all ingredients in advance as everything goes very fast and pre-heat your oven to 170°C (340°F).
Over a medium heat bring the water, milk and butter to the boil. Do this slowly so that the butter has plenty of time to melt. At the first broth, remove from the heat and add all the flour at once. Stir vigorously until you get a homogeneous mixture. Keep on stirring for 1-2 minutes until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan.
Pour into a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat an egg and stir it into the mixture. Repeat with the 2 remaining eggs. If you want to go faster, beat the 3 eggs and stir them in gradually.
Your choux pastry is finished.
To make the chouquettes, place small dollops on a baking sheet covered with greaseproof paper using either a piping bag or a spoon. Make sure you leave enough room between the chouquettes as they will expand during the baking process.
Beat the last egg, mix it with a little water. Glaze the chouquettes using a brush and then sprinkle grains of sugar on top. Be generous with the sugar as the cakes will expand meaning the sugar rocks won’t be all over each other. What’s more the sugar rocks are the only sweet element in the recipe.
Bake 10 minutes at 170°C (340°F). At a 5 minute mark, open the oven door for 5 seconds. His will remove the steam from the oven and prevent the chouquettes from falling flat later on.
Tip: What makes the chouquettes puff up? According to Hervé This, French chemist, co-founder of molecular gastronomy “It’s mostly the water making the dough inflate and thus expand. This water is provided by the eggs. When heated from below on the stove, the water that evaporates gives off a lot of steam, which in turn causes the mixture to inflate.”