Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Choux Pastries

This weekend, The Hubs and I attended a dinner party and made a decidedly French dessert: the cream puff.

Flipping through our copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, we found the recipe for Pâte à Choux, which is the paste/batter for all delectable filling-contained treats like cream puffs, eclairs, and even cheese puffs.

Ingredients: (For about 2 cups of batter)
1 cup water
3 oz (6 Tb, 3/4 stick) unsalted butter cut into pieces
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
4 eggs (large)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (scooped and leveled)

For egg wash
1 extra egg
1/2 tsp water

* We did not include pepper in our recipe since we wanted to make a cream puff as well as a cheese puff with the batter so the addition of pepper might have been odd in the cream puff.

** To make a sweeter batter: You can include 1 tsp sugar and reduce the 1 tsp salt to a pinch

1. Bring water to a boil with the butter and seasonings and boil slowly until the butter has melted. Meanwhile measure out the flour.

2. Remove from heat and immediately pour in all the flour at once. Beat vigorously with a wooden spatula or spoon for several second to blend thoroughly. Then beat over moderately high heat for 1-2 minutes until mixture leaves the sides of the pan and the spoon, forms a mass, and begins to film the bottom of the pan.

3. Remove saucepan from heat and make a well in the center of the batter with your spoon. Immediately break an egg into the center of the well. Beat it into the batter for several seconds until it has absorbed. Continue with the rest of the eggs, beating them one by one. The 3rd and 4th eggs will be absorbed more slowly. Beat for a moment more to be sure all is well blended and smooth.

4. If you don't have a pastry bag (like us), Julia recommends dropping the batter on the baking sheet with a spoon.  However, a long time ago we improvised and created our own Ziplock brand pastry bag. Just simply fill the batter in a Ziplock bag and snip the tip.  

5. You have the option of making small puffs or large puffs. Small puffs are 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch high while large puffs are 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch high. Space the mounds 2 inches apart (more space if making large puffs) on 2 buttered baking sheets. We used wax paper here and buttered on top of the wax paper. 

6. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and prior to placing the puffs into the oven create an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1/2 tsp water in a small bowl). Brush the egg wash over the top of the puffs and pop them in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes until they have doubled in size and are golden brown on top. 

7. Since these puffs at this stage still have steam trapped inside, they will become soggy very quickly if the steam is left alone. To prevent this, once the puffs are golden brown, remove them from the oven (do not turn off the oven), and place little slits on the side of the puff to release the steam. Then place them back in the oven with the oven door slightly ajar so they can crisp back up and the steam is dried out. 

8. Now, you have perfect little Choux Pastries to fill with your favorite pastry creams and whipped creams! 

(I just figured out that my iPhone has auto-focus so hopefully my pictures are more clear now!!)

Happy baking! KK certainly approves. :)

Petits Choux au Fromage (Cheese Puffs) featured in my next post!


  1. this looks like it's manageable for me to try :)
    For 2cups of batter, does that mean i'm adding in 2 cups of flour?

  2. sorry! i somehow left out the flour amount. it's included now - 3/4 cup to make a total of 2 cups of pate a choux.