Saturday, March 7, 2009

Choux Pastry - the how to guide

1989 we are in the car; I have a glass plate on my lap with chocolate éclairs on it. The once glossy icing has now muted and cracks are starting show, this is ok though, because unlike our modern day oh-so fancy ganache, this won’t stick to the cling wrap.

Fast forward to 2009 and I am looking through Karen Martini’s book ‘Cooking at Home’ and bam! It’s an éclair! While I had long since buried éclairs into the ‘that’s so old fashion mum’ pile, Karen has done an outstanding job at bringing this 80’s icon into the modern day.

Often one to interpret the ‘now to make the pastry’ as ‘now to pull the pastry out of the freezer’ I was surprised to see that I was subconsciously doing a stock take on my pantry to see if I could indeed make this. I did, and I suggest you do to.

Below is the recipe, straight from Karen (via me) to you. A couple of things to note that you old pastry hags may scoff at but I wish someone had told me;

Only EVER put one tray in the oven at once – don’t stack them unless you have a tried and tested fan oven that will distribute the heat PERFECTLY...

  1. Cook them a little longer than you think, they develop a lovely golden tan and if undercooked, they really do taste like uncooked pastry
  2. If you have a kitchen wiz use it, the result is just as good as hand mixing and twice as easy
  3. Get jiggy with the fillings, try stewed apple with a caramel sauce and crushed pecans OR custard and nutmeg...
  4. And when you brag to your guest that you indeed made the pastry yourself be sure to correct the uneducated that it is shoe...not chux

Choux Puffs with ice cream and hot honey sauce

As mentioned above, roam free with the fillings although this is a good one to start with. Left over puffs should be stored in the freezer as they will mould quickly otherwise.

Serves 6-8 (one per serve)

100ml water
100ml milk
80gm unsalted butter
1 teaspoon castor sugar
1 teaspoon salt
120g plain flour
3 free range eggs, lightly beaten
6-8 large scoops of vanilla bean ice cream (or flavour of your choice)

Honey chocolate sauce

200g dark chocolate
100ml pouring cream
3 tablespoons honey
25g cocoa powder
4 tablespoons water
25g unsalted butter, chopped
½ teaspoon vanilla essence

To make the honey-choc sauce, place the chocolate, cream and honey in a small saucepan over a low heat and stir until smooth. Place the cocoa powder and water in a bowl and stir until smooth. Add the cocoa to the chocolate mixture and stir constantly until almost boiling. Remove from the heat, add the butter and vanilla essence and stir until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 230dg. Line two or three baking trays with baking paper.

To make the choux puffs, combine the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until boiling. Add the flour and stir quickly with a wooden spoon over low heat for about 5-8minutes or until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Transfer to an electric mixer and using the paddle attachment, slowly add the beaten egg, mixing well. Alternatively, slowly add the beaten egg and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and elastic. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate.

Place tablespoons of the mixture on the baking trays and bake for 6-8min or until puffed, then reduce the temperature to 185dg and bake for a further 15minutes or until cooked inside.

To serve, cut the choux puffs in half and place a scoop of vanilla ice-cream in the centre. Replace the tops and pour hot honey chocolate sauce over the top. Serve immediately.

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