Bonjour ! What a lovely sunny day here in Hong Kong. I woke up at 5:30am and kicked my own butt to do my workout so it is only 9am now, workout is out of the way and I have a full day ahead of me, whee ! And since I have plenty of time, I will tell you another of the many tales of my Europe trip.
This is about another wonderful foodie discovery I have made absolutely randomly again. Every year when I travel to Paris to visit my Family & Friends, I always make a stop at Fnac, a gigantic bookstore. It is the French equivalent of US Barnes & Noble or British Waterstones. If you are looking for a way to get rid of me, just drop me at the cookbook section and you have peace for two solid hours.
While browsing the baking cookbooks, one drew my attention. “Chou à la Crème”. Cool. It looked very pretty and to me it was just good enough to buy it. Plus, I had no such kind of book yet. Woooorst case, it would be good decoration material in my imaginary cookbook library (I am totally starting to work on making it tangible, so far I only have piles of books on the living room floor and it irritates Mr Glutton). Deal done.
Later on I bragged about my purchase on Instagram and one of my friend told me “you’re so funny because although you don’t live here anymore, you are still up to the latest trends. They are so popular these days and I always bring those when I am invited at my friends’ home”. I had no idea what she was talking about, I thought it was weird to buy a cookbook as a gift for your hosts (Pauline, please forgive my ignorance).
It was only on my way to La Chambre aux Confitures (yep, same neighborhood, same street) that I saw their shop and I expressed this “Aaaah, now I know what she meant !” Trying those choux was required. So I obliged. I took a box of 6 – 13€, quite expensive and even more so if you buy them individually, nonetheless they look and taste luxurious ! My euros were cleverly and wisely spent, the day was saved, and I had this very satisfied look on my face, thinking of how smart I was to buy the cookbook (I like to think it wasn’t coincidence but pure genius, muahaha). I was so ready to reproduce them.
From left – Pistachio cherry, Praline, Passion Fruit, Apricot & Orange Blossom, Raspberry & Rose and not completely sure about the last one but I think it was Salted Butter Caramel.
For this recipe, you need a whole lot of patience and preparation. You have been warned. The recipe says 1 hr prep, 4 hrs rest, 55 mins bake but from my own experience, it is rather 2.5 hrs prep. So this is how it goes, step by step.
1. Make the chou dough. It is relatively easy, this step doesn’t not require delicate handling. You just bring the water, milk, sugar, salt and butter to a boil, then add the flour out of the heat and stir energetically, then bring back to the heat to dry out the dough. In fact the recipe is very similar to (if not same as) that of Chouquettes.
2. Make the chou topping. It is made of sugar, flour and flour. It gives a bit of a crisp and covers any chou imperfection. Once they are shaped using a round cutter, they are placed in the freezer for half an hour so they are hard enough to be handled.
3. Pipe the dough with a 45 degree angle into 4cm size balls and place the topping on each of them and bake for 45 minutes at 160C or at least 40 minutes otherwise they will collapse.
5. Make the praline filling. It is a custard flavored with praline paste. You can buy it or make it (recipe here). Prepare the fondant discs using a round cutter.
6. Fill a piping bag with the custard, make small holes at the bottom of the choux and fill them with the praline custard but do not fill them completely as the custard will spill out when you eat them.
7. Finish the filling with a tiny bit of caramel, using also a piping bag. It is optional, but kind of mandatory 😛
I used the naughty salted caramel with praline that I bought at La Chambre aux Confitures 🙂
Useful tip : this recipe takes a lot of time in preparation. If you cannot dedicate so much time in one day, you can prepare the filling, praline paste and the crusty topping the day before. This is what I do and it takes away a lot of stress and the next day is all fun with only the assembling and decoration of the choux 🙂
- For the dough
- 250ml water
- 250ml milk
- 10g sugar
- 10g salt
- 175g butter
- 250g flour
- 7 eggs, beaten
- For the crusty topping
- 40g brown sugar
- 30g butter
- 40g flour
- For the praline filling
- 120g praline paste
- 500ml milk
- 60g egg yolk
- 80g sugar
- 40g corn starch
- For the icing
- 75g white fondant or almond paste (or mazipan)
- 10g dark chocolate, melted
- Preparation of the chou dough :
- In a sauce pan, pour the milk, water, sugar and salt. Add the butter cut into cubes and bring to a boil while stirring, until the butter is completely melted
- Incorporate the flour in one time and stir energetically for 30 seconds to 1 minute for the dough to dry, until the dough doesn't stick to the pan anymore
- Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and mix in the beaten eggs in 2 times and stir energetically. Check the texture by drawing a line into the dough with your finger. If the gap closes up, the dough is ready.
- Preparation of the crusty topping :
- In a mixing bowl, mix together the sugar and butter cut into cubes. Add the flour in one time and mix with the fingers until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
- Divide the paste into two equal portions and place them between two parchment papers, in the center. Roll out the paste using a rolling pin and make it as thin as possible
- Gently take out the upper parchment paper and cut 3.5cm (1.4 inch) discs using a round cutter
- Place on a baking sheet and in the freezer for at least 30 minutes
- Baking the choux :
- Preheat the oven at 160C
- Using a piping bag with a big nozzle (10 or 12), pipe the dough with a 45 degree angle into 4cm balls. Leave a gap of 5cm between each chou
- Place a disc of the crusty topping on each chou and bake for 45 minutes (at least 40 minutes or they will collapse) until golden. Transfer onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
- Preparation of the praline filling :
- In a sauce pan, bring the milk and half of the sugar to a boil.
- In a mixing bowl, mix the rest of the sugar with the corn starch then incorporate the egg yolks and stir until smooth.
- Pour half of the hot milk and stir again. Transfer back to the sauce pan with the rest of the hot milk and bring back to low heat for 1 to 2 minutes while stirring energetically until smooth.
- Let the custard rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours, then whip it to get rid of any lump and incorporate 120g of praline paste.
- Assembling the choux :
- Make a small hole at the bottom of each chou using a tiny nozzle (8mm). Fill a piping bag with a 8mm nozzle with the praline custard and fill each chou. Be careful not to overfill them.
- Fill another piping bag with a 2mm nozzle with praline paste and fill a tiny amount of the praline paste by pressing the bag gently.
- Decorate the chou with the icing and the melted dark chocolate.
- Store in the fridge until serving.