Wednesday, July 25, 2012
While in Paris a few weeks back I saw so many pastries, desserts, and treats that I longed to grab and just stuff my face with. But I kept cool and just decided to drool over every incredibly pretty and flaky dessert.
And with true Paris fashion, many of the treats I wanted to get my hands on were pastries. Every café and bakery we walked passed had rows upon rows of golden brown croissants, plain and ones with little bits of chocolate peeping out of the sides; all kinds of tarts lined the shelves; and all the cakes were beautifully iced. It was a dream to look at them all.
One of the pastries I saw definitely caught my attention when I first saw it. They looked like little pat a choux type things, but they had these little clumps of sugar on top. (I would later learn that the sugar clumps were called pearl sugar) They were so cute and puffy; I kind of wish I had gotten one.
Not even two days after I arrive back home I see a recipes for chouquettes! I couldn’t believe it and instantly hit favorite, not caring what ingredients went in and set about making them the next day. The only thing I couldn’t get was the pearl sugar. I have absolutely no idea where I would find something like that, so I didn’t even really bother. But, if you want to make these in the traditional sense, go ahead and use that pearl sugar. As for me, a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar was quite alright.
Like I said before, I’m sorry I never got a chance to try an actual chouquette so I could compare the two, but what can you do?
These little puff balls were perfect in every sense. They were crispy on the outside and so, so soft on the inside. They were amazing. As I was taking pictures, my mom snuck a couple and the first word to come out of her mouth was “Beautiful!”. I think I may have under baked mine just a tad because the inside was still a little chewy, but the chewiness might have also been due to the chouquettes absorbing the confectioners’ sugar.
Also, if you’re scared to work with pat a choux type dough, don’t be. If I can do it, so can you. The steps are real simple and you’ll have beautiful little “sugar puffs” within an hour. Also, if you’re not good with a pastry bag, like I am, use a small cookie scoop to portion out the dough. It’s so easy and you’ll get roughly the same size pastries each time.
Adapted from Merci Mama
Makes about 20
½ tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
Pinch of salt
½ cup water
67 grams (about ½ cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 eggs, room temperature
Pearl sugar or confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, butter, salt, and water. Set over medium heat and bring up to a simmer, stirring occasionally to help the butter melt. Once the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has come to a simmer, remove the saucepan from the heat.
Add the flour all at once and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until the dough starts to pull away from the sides.
Drop eggs in one at a time, stirring continuously with the wooden spoon. Make sure each egg has been fully incorporated before adding in the next. The dough will look curdled and weird, but that’s ok, just keep stirring and it will soon come together.
Place a cover over the saucepan and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Use a small cookie scoop (or you can use a piping bag or two spoons, whichever you feel is easiest) to portion out the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Leave about 1-2 inches between each dough mound. If using pearl sugar, sprinkle some on the top. Press down gently to adhere to the dough.
Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until each chouquette has puffed and become golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack for a few minutes and enjoy. If you are using powdered sugar, once the little puffs have cooled, sift some of it on top and enjoy.