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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Recipe: Chouquettes



Chouquettes with Sparkling Sugar

Recipe: Chouquettes



When it comes to Pate a Choux pastries, you will be hard pressed to find something easier to make than Chouquettes. Little more than dollops of Pate a Choux sprinkled with sugar, they are as easy to make as they are (unfortunately) to eat.

Chouquettes are sometimes filled with Custard or Mousse, effectively making them mini Cream Puffs or Eclairs in spherical form. Those are delicious too, but there is something uniquely satisfying about the simplicity of crisp Choux on its own.

Pearl Sugar (also known as Nib Sugar or Hail Sugar) is traditionally used to cover the Chouquettes. This refined sugar is coarse and opaque, and it gives the Chouquettes their distinctive crunch. More importantly, Pearl Sugar has a much higher melting / caramelizing point than standard white granulated sugar. This is necessary in the high temperature ovens (400+ degrees Fahrenheit) required to properly bake Pate a Choux. An alternative to Pearl sugar is Sparkle / Crystal Sugar, which has a translucent appearance. You may not be able to find Pearl Sugar or Sparkle Sugar at your local super market, but it's readily available on Amazon.


Piping Bag Filled with Pate a Choux
Begin by making half a recipe of Pate a Choux. This is enough dough to make about four dozen bite-sized Chouquettes.

Fit a pastry bag with a #4 round tip and fill the pastry bag with the dough. Do not overfill the pastry bag. You will find it is always easier to work with a partially filled pastry bag, refilling when necessary, rather than struggling with one that is overflowing.


Using Pate a Choux to Glue Parchment to a Sheet TrayLine a sheet tray with parchment and use some Pate a Choux to "glue" the corners. This will keep the parchment in place when you are piping the Chouquettes.

Individually Piped ChouquettesPipe individual Chouquettes to a size slightly larger than a quarter. Leave a couple of inches between Chouquettes, remembering that they will double in size when baked. As an alternative to piping, you can just spoon some dough onto the sheet tray, but the Chouquettes will be rougher in appearance and will not be uniform in size.

Starting to Pipe a Chouquette
When piping, start by holding the pastry bag pointing straight down towards the sheet tray with the tip about 1/2" above the surface.

Continuing to Pipe an Individual Chouquette
Use one hand to squeeze the pastry bag from the back while the other hand guides and stabilizes the pastry tip. Without moving the pastry tip up or down, or to either side, continue squeezing until you have piped the appropriate sized dollop of Pate a Choux.

Finishing Piping a Chouquette
Stop squeezing and smoothly pull the pastry tip to the side, breaking off the dough from the pastry bag. There should be no tail or "Hershey Kiss" appearance to the Chouquettes.

Aside from overfilling the pastry bag, one of the biggest mistakes made by beginners is continuing to squeeze the pastry bag when pulling away from the Chouquettes. Train yourself to stop squeezing, wait a second, and then pull away to make clean Chouquettes.

Sparkle Sugar

Unbaked Chouquettes Covered in Sparkle SugarLightly brush the Chouquettes with egg wash and cover them with a lot of Pearl Sugar or Sparkle Sugar. Even though the amount of Sugar may seem excessive before baking, when the Chouquettes expand in the oven, the coating will become more dispersed.

Bake the Chouquettes for 25-30 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. The Chouquettes are properly baked when they are completely golden brown and feel light and hollow to touch.

As with any pastry made with Pate a Choux, the Chouquettes may deflate if you keep opening the closing the oven, particularly early on in the baking. However, after about 15 minutes, the structure should be sufficiently set so that you can quickly open the oven to rotate the sheet trays to ensure even baking.

The Chouquettes are best eaten the day they are made. However, they will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container.

Over time, the Chouquettes will become soft. To restore crispness, place the baked Chouquettes in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for approximately five minutes.





- The Recipe -



Chouquettes:


Yield: 4 Dozen Bite-Sized Chouquettes

Ingredients:
  • Pate a Choux: 500g / Half Recipe
  • Pearl Sugar / Sparkle Sugar: for finishing 


Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 

2. Prepare the Pate a Choux. Fit a pastry bag with a #4 round tip and fill the pastry bag with the Pate a Choux. Line a sheet tray with parchment. Use a dollop of Pate a Choux at each corner to hold the parchment to the sheet tray  

Chef's Note: Do not over-fill the pastry bag. It is easier to refill a pastry bag when necessary rather than struggle with an overfilled pastry bag.

3. Pipe individual Chouquettes to a size slightly larger than a quarter. Leave sufficient room between Chouquettes as they will double in size when baked.

4. Lightly egg wash the Chouquettes and cover them with a lot of Pearl Sugar.

Chef's Note: While the Pearl Sugar may look excessive, when the Chouquettes expand in the oven, the Sugar will become more dispersed. 

4. Bake the Chouquettes for 25-30 minutes, rotating the sheet trays half way through the bake time.  The Chouquettes are done when they are completely golden brown and feel light and hollow.

5. The Chouquettes are best served the day they are made. However, they will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container. Over time, the Chouquettes will become soft. To restore crispness, place the baked Chouquettes in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for approximately five minutes.

Sprinkle Covered Chouquettes



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