I love choux pastries, when they are perfectly round, airy and not cracked… I always have a little stock of choux in my freezer, cooked and ready to be filled. So when I have last-minute guests, I don’t panic, I prepare a smooth pastry cream (chocolate one here), and everyone is happy!
Those choux are made of:
- choux pastry topped with craquelin
- chocolate pastry cream
- gianduja glazing
- caramelized hazelnuts
Craquelin is a sort of crumble dough, that is rolled out to a thickness of 2mm (maximum) and chilled, then cut and placed on the raw choux or eclairs. As the choux pastry bakes and expands, the craquelin cracks and forms a crust on top of the pastry, which adds a sweet and crunchy layer.
- Stainless steel mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- 2 rectagles of parchment paper approx. 15cmx30cm each
- Rolling pin
- 20 g Butter At room temperature
- 25 g Flour Type 45
- 25 g Cassonade Unrefined cane brown sugar
- 0.5 g Fleur de sel French sea salt
- Bring the butter to room temperature.
- Add the powders and combine using a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Pour the batter on the first piece of parchment paper and cover with the other one.
- Roll out the dough to a thickness of 2mm (maximum) and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
I use different recipes and baking techniques for choux (the round ones) and eclairs (the long ones). Please refer to Essentials page for more details. You can prepare the eclairs in advance and store them in an airtight box in the freezer for up to one month. Whenever you need to fill them, just reheat them (without unfreezing them) at 170°C for 2/3 minutes.
- Stainless steel mixing bowl
- Stand mixer equipped with flat beater
- Wooden turner or spatula
- Baking tray lined with Silpat mat
- Piping bag with 10mm round tip
- 24 holes semi spheres silicone mold
- Angled spatula
- 60 g Eggs Around 1 large egg
- 36 g Flour
- 26 g Butter
- 30 g Full fat milk Fresh if possible
- 30 g Water
- 4 g Inverted sugar Or granulated sugar
- 1 g Table salt Use precision scale, approx. 1 pinch
- Bring the eggs to room temperature. Whisk them lightly to combine the whites and the yolks so that when added to the dough later, you get an even mix of whites and yolks at each addition.
- Preheat the oven at 170°C, on STATIC mode.
- Sieve the flour.
- Cut the butter into small cubes (maximum 2cmx2cm).
- Place the milk, the butter, the salt and the inverted sugar in the saucepan and heat them.
- Stir from time to time to dissolve the salt and sugar, and so that the butter melts before the mix comes to a boil.
- As soon as it starts boiling, remove from the heat (but don't switch off the stove).
- Add ALL the sifted flour in ONE GO. Mix immediately (off the heat) using the wooden turner (or a spatula not too flexible). Make sure there are no lumps.
- Place the saucepan on the stove again (at medium heat) and mix energetically to dry the dough and evaporate the excess moist. This step should take 1 to 2 minutes (depending on the flour).
- The dough is ready when it pulls away very cleanly from the sides of the pan, and either it forms a thin film at the bottom of your stainless steel saucepan (cf. picture below) OR small oil droplets at the bottom of your non-stick saucepan*.
- Transfer the dough into the bowl of the stand mixer equipped with the flat beater. Mix at low speed for 1 minute to cool it down*.
- Add the eggs a little at a time (4 to 5 times) and mix (at low speed) after each addition. You can start by adding the 1/3 of the eggs, then the second 1/3. and make sure the eggs are combined properly at each step, but do not over-agitate the dough.
- Then add the rest of the eggs little by little until getting the right texture, i.e. when it becomes smooth and glossy and it holds its shape*.
- Transfer the dough into the piping bag with 10mm round tip.
- Make sure there are no air bubbles trapped in the bag before starting piping by squeezing the bag and pushing the dough towards the tip.
- You can pipe directly the choux on the tray lined with silicone mat, by holding the pastry bag upright and pressing gently, and form small mounds about 3 to 3.5cm diameter. Don't mind the tips and don't try to flatten them if you will use craquelin.
- You can also pipe the dough in silicone molds (mini semi spheres for me, 3cm diameter), then freeze them. This technique ensures having all the choux of exactly the same size.
- Once frozen, unmold the semi spheres and place them on the silicone mat.
- Place on each choux a craquelin disc. No need to make it much bigger than the choux itself.
- Bake at 170°C on STATIC mode for 20 minutes. This static mode diffuses the heat vertically (while the fan mode diffuses it evenly in all the directions), which allows the choux not to puff vertically and have a neat shape.
- Open slightly the door of the oven to release the steam and close it back immediately. Continue baking for 5 minutes. You may need more time depending on the size of your choux, your oven...
- The choux are done when they have a nice dark golden color. If you don't bake them enough they will collapse once out of the oven.
- Let them cool on a cooling rack.
Chocolate crème pâtissière (pastry cream)
Crème pâtissière is a French custard, very creamy and rich. It’s thickened with egg yolks (even though some recipes use whole eggs) and corn startch. It is used to stuff eclairs or choux or mille-feuilles, or as a base for other recipes like frangipane, crème diplomâte, crème Chiboust… Unlike other custards, the crème pâtissière cannot be frozen, and it’s better to consume it within 24 hours after preparing it.
- Mixing bowl
- Cling wrap
- 85 g Dark chocolate Guanaja 70% of Valrhona
- 220 g Full fat milk Fresh if possible
- 50 g Whipping cream 35% milk fat
- 36 g Egg yolks Approx. the yolks of 2 eggs
- 20 g White sugar
- 10 g Corn starch
- Melt the chocolate pistoles at 45/50° in a double-boiler (Bain-Marie) or in the micro-wave (not my preferred option).
- Heat the milk and the cream, don't boil, just bring to simmer.
- Whisk energetically the sugar with the egg yolks until light and creamy.
- Add the corn starch and combine.
- Add 1/3 of the hot mixture to the yolks mix and whisk until homogeneous.
- Transfer this mixture in the saucepan with the rest of the hot milk and cream.
- Simmer over medium heat whitout stopping whisking. As soon as it reaches the boiling point, continue cooking for almost 1 minute. The cream has to be less thick than a plain crème pâtissière as it will be added to chocolate.
- Start adding the cream to the melted chocolate (little by little, in 3 to 4 times).
- Whisk energically after each addition, to realize an emulsion, like for a ganache.
- After adding half of the plain cream to the chocolate, your mixture won't be very smooth.
- Keep on adding the plain cream and whisking until you get a smooth and creamy chocolate cream.
- Cover with the cling wrap directly on the surface and let it cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Prepare caramelized chopped hazelnuts (check Essentials page).
Prepare the frosting by melting 80g of gianduja (check Essentials page) and adding 10g of grapeseed oil.
Pour the cooled pastry cream into a piping bag with a 4mm round tip.
Fill each choux with chocolate pastry cream, then dip its surface in the gianduja (the layer should be very thin).
Stick caramelized hazelnuts by pressing them slightly on the gianduja frosting before it sets.
Make a hole at the back of each choux.
Dipping the choux in the frosting.
Prepare the caramelized hazelnuts, melt the frosting and pour the cream into a piping bag.
Fill the choux and glaze them. Make sure to leave a thin layer of glazing.