Hello readers! How long has it been? My last post was about three months ago for the cookie swap…wow. And I left amidst chocolate month – how utterly selfish of me?! To apologize fully, I brought along an easy french pastry recipe. Hopefully these cute treats will do my apology justice.
Now, I’ll be upfront; I can’t promise that I’m going to be updating this blog as frequently as I’d like to over the next few months. My senior year of high school is winding down, and it’s an exciting and nostalgic time right now. Additionally, as I move on to college next year, I’m sadly coming to the realization that I will not have the astounding array of kitchen supplies at my fingertips as I do now. I’ll have to find a way to make it work, but I will likely not get many chances to cook or bake, at least during my first year of college. So for now, I am not going to plan anything specific to post during this time.
This all being said, I do have a few exciting pieces of culinary news to update you all on. I may be working in a bakery this summer! I contacted three local bakeries about a month ago, and each said that they would likely be able to find a place for me to help out and learn new skills this summer, and told me to call back later this month. Additionally, if none of these opportunities work out, the cooking teacher at my school has mentioned she would certainly be able to help find me a placement. How cool would it be to bake alongside actual pastry chefs!?
So, now back to this blog. As most of you know, I originally organized my blog last year to follow different seasonal ingredients, one per month, from January’s cinnamon to December’s chocolate. Well, as you may be wondering, or at least as I have been wondering for the past few months, what happens when the year ends? Should I start over, and pick new ingredients per month? Or should I simply bake and discover new recipes that focus on the same ingredients?
Well, I ended up deciding to simply choose new themes by which I would characterize my blog. And this year, I will focus on different cultures and cuisines. I also realized that I do not have enough time or spare calories to bake enough for my themes to rotate monthly, and have felt like I had given each theme justice. Thus, I decided to simply split the rest of this year up into two categories.
Here is the order in which my themes will follow:
March-May: European Desserts (French, Italian, Spanish, Austrian, Swiss, etc.)
June-August: Asian Desserts (Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Thai, etc.)
September+: Anything I have time to bake.
One caveat: one of the bakeries I hope to work at this summer is a French bakery, so provided I am able to work there, I will probably shift all of my summer recipes to a French theme again to share with you what I’m working on. So, there’s a slight chance that this blog will simply convert into one based entirely on European baking, but that’s not really a problem, is it? 😉
Now, for this recipe. To begin my European baking endeavors, I started with the simple, yet classic, French choux pastry, or pâte à choux. This is the quintessential French pastry dough, used for almost everything, including éclairs, profiteroles (cream puffs), and beignets (the dough is typically baked, but for beignets it is fried). Even churros are fried from this dough.
Choquettes are a simple version of choux pastry, pretty much a cream puff sans pastry cream. Topped with a thick hunks of sugar, they are a delicious way to enjoy the dough for what it is. I also added cinnamon and mini chocolate chips on a few of them, and while the cinnamon was delicious, the chocolate chips actually burned. In French bakeries, choquettes are often piled high in a basket near the register, enticing you to ask for a few before paying.
I chose this recipe as I had been to Eric Kayser’s bakery before, both in New York City and in Paris, and found everything I had eaten there delicious. Many French bakeries that are chains lack in quality, yet not this one. Even David Lebovitz names Kayser’s bakery as the number 7 stop not to miss in Paris. This recipe was delicious, but after making it I realized it included a couple more eggs than did other recipes. If I were to make choquettes again, I would likely use fewer eggs. Click here for a helpful guide to making pâte à choux.
Adapted from Eric Kayser
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 200 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 8 large eggs
- Pearl sugar, for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a tight dough forms and pulls away from the side of the pan, 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
- In a bowl, beat 7 eggs and add to the dough in four batches, stirring vigorously between additions until the eggs are completely incorporated and the pastry is smooth. The dough should be glossy and very slowly hang, stretch and fall from the spoon in thick ribbons. If necessary, beat in the remaining egg.
- Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe 1 1/2-inch mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between them. Generously sprinkle each mound with 1/2 teaspoon of pearl sugar. Bake the chouquettes for about 30 minutes, until browned and puffed, until browned and puffed, shifting the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through.
The baked choux can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; recrisp in a 325° oven for 10 minutes.