This Christmas I got invited to celebrate it with a family that has three little kids. I’ve been wanting to bring the kiddies something, and I’ve been looking at the cookie recipes and I couldn’t make up my mind. This being France, the little kids usually get a little goûter sometime around 4-5 pm so that they don’t starve till dinner time. It’s usually something sweet and it’s usually chouquettes. All they have is some pearl sugar sprinkled over them. If they’re filled, they’re then profiteroles.
I know it’s not a typical Christmas thing, but it is little kids and they will rejoice at anything sweet! I am making something in-between. I am sprinkling them with caster sugar, only because I don’t know how much I will have of the filling I want to fill them with. I have some of the ganache/icing from the Bûche de Noël left over so I want to use that because it would go amazingly well together!
I found this simple recipe in the New York Times. They call it Pâte à Choux for Cheese Puffs (which would be Gougères) and Cream Puffs (which are Profiteroles). They tell you what spices to add for the cheese puffs and to add the cheese, but I am just making the sweet ones here.
This is the first time making this, and as much as it’s fun with the piping bag, it is a messy business filling it up (fyi) You can also use two spoons to drop them on the baking sheet. Also, since I am still adjusting to my convection oven, switching it on 218C was not going to happen, it was either 220C or 215C. I am going 215C for the second batch. Also, I’ve been checking them to see if my time would be shorter (convection is supposed to work faster) and so far we’re on track. (read more below)
125gr butter, unsalted
pinch of salt
1 egg beaten for glazing
1 tbsp sugar
1 vanilla sugar packet
crystal sugar for sprinkling
1. Boil the water, butter, salt, sugar and vanilla sugar. When it boils, lower the heat and let it simmer till the butter melts.
2. Once the butter melts, sift in the flour and blend it in all in with a wooden spatula. When it comes together, “cook” it in the pan for a minute (to get rid of the flour taste) Let it cool for 1 minute.
3. Transfer it to a food processor with a paddle attachment and whirr it around for a minute or two to cool it down. if not, apply some elbow grease and stir vigorously with the spatula.
4. Start adding the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is well incorporated before adding the next. In the end, the mix should be nice and glossy.
5. Heat the oven on 215C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
6. Fill in a piping bag with the batter and spoon little mounds on the baking sheet (you can also use two spoons to drop them off on the sheet)
7. Glaze them with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sugar.
8. Bake on 215C for 10 minutes, then lower to 190C and bake for another 25 minutes. You might have to turn the sheet around, so keep an eye on them.
9. Take them out, once done, let them cool before filling, if you decide to fill them. (if you’re using the ganache, fill the piping bag and use the pointed spout to poke the chouquettes and fill them. Make sure the ganache is right out of the fridge, because it warms too fast and runs too quickly)
Yields 44 chouquettes
All in all, I am not happy with the recipe. I am reading now and they say everywhere, to bake them first at 200C and then increase for the remainder until they’re finished! Not reduce! Also, no one tells you whether when you take them out and they’re just lightly golden brown they’ll be kind of doughy inside but that will probably be fine. Also, no one glazes them!!! Not pleased. And I trust(ed) the New York Times. (Update: I found one recipe where they do lower the heat and they say if they’re doughy inside to return them to the warm oven to just dry out) It is an absolutely too simple a recipe, but the simplest things can sometimes prove to be the most troublesome. It is easy, but apparently there are tricks of the trade that need to be known, almost as a given. And someone like me, who is still a “green” (haven’t seen everything yet!) cook, some things are hard to anticipate and foresee in order to make a judgement call when the recipe lacks advice or has a fault.
The other chefs and bakers we read, would test and retest their recipes until they are what they are (or we hope, not unlike here in this recipe) but not me. I don’t have the time or the resources to be making this again in order to make them perfect and then post perfect pictures and just tell you where to watch out. I don’t even know whether to file it under “Disasters”. They still taste nice. They’re just a bit tanned and crispier/drier than they should be. So it’s not an all-out-fail.