Pâte à Choux
Choux pastry may be one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever made in the kitchen. Haven’t you ever stared at rows of perfect cream puffs and thought to yourself, “geesh, if only I was skilled enough in the kitchen to make those I’d probably have millions of friends and a cookbook deal”. Well, I can’t help you with the friends or book, but I assure you, if you can stir, you can make choux, and it’s such a confidence boost. There are literally only five ingredients used and it couldn’t be more simple. The only thing you really need to do with choux is pay attention while cooking so the dough doesn’t burn in the pan or go soggy in the oven. Once you’ve achieved that the possibilities are endless! Plain, the choux taste a lot like popovers, which means if you just dip them in cinnamon butter you’ll be home free, but you can go on to be a real pastry chef and try your luck with profiteroles and éclairs, even savory pastries- get ready to wow anyone who enters your kitchen! This is just the simple choux recipe, but stay tuned for Johnny Depps on a plate (you’ll see..)
Choux (from the Williams Sonoma Baking book and The New York Times Magazine)
– 8 tbsp. unsalted butter
– 1 cup flour
– 1 cup water (or milk)
– 4 eggs
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the butter and a pinch of salt in a large saucepan on high. Add water or milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan (about 30 seconds). Remove the pan from the heat and add the eggs one at a time, beating well until smooth. After each egg addition the mixture will separate and looks horrible at first but keep beating and it’ll get smooth and beautiful!
Scoop the dough into a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch tip (freezer bag with a corner cut off works too). Pipe dough onto the prepared pan: for bite-sized cream puffs, pipe a round mound about 1 inch wide and 1 inch high; for large cream puffs, pipe mounds about 1 1/2 inch wide and 1 1/2 inch high; for éclairs, pipe logs 3-4 inches long and 1 inch high. Bake until golden, 25-30 minutes for cream puffs and 35-40 minutes for éclairs. When finished baking, poke each puff with a sharp knife to let steam out and open the oven door, letting the pastries dry in the warm air for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack and let cool completely. Fill with your desired filling and go crazy! *Bonus recipe* freshly cooled choux puffs are step 1 in the incredibly easy task of making profiteroles with ice cream- just slice the choux in half, fill the centers with a scoop of your favorite ice cream and drizzle with chocolate sauce. Boom.
If you’re not
me insane, you will obviously not be able to eat 25 cream puffs in a single night, so you can easily wrap the puffs in waxed paper in a sealed container and freeze for up to a month. To defrost in the least soggy manner, remove the puffs from the freezer and allow them to come to room temperature (could take a few hours), then place them in a 350 degree F oven for 2-3 minutes until crisp!