This time Daring Bakers gave us the chance to be more indulgent. A chance to experience the smooth and velvety creaminess filled into melt-in-the-mouth pate choux. And also a chance to dare to bake these small delicacies in your own home kitchens. The challenge was to bake something fun out of choux pastry.
Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!
Initially I was terrified by the challenge, as I had never heard about choux pastry before, forget about baking Swans out of it. But then I got to know more about choux pastry and the recipes you could try out with it. Eclairs seemed to me the most delectable and a relatively easier thing to do. The difficult part was to get the choux pastry right. For that I resorted to a recipe from Martha Stewart. For the filling I made creme patisserie, which kind of added a new dimension to the subtle flavor of choux pastry. Instead of chocolate glaze as in a classic eclairs recipe, I chose to use Nutella for the extra bit of creaminess and the richness. And to give the end product a bit more of color appeal, I topped them with chopped pistachio nuts. And I couldn’t believe myself that such things could be done in your own home kitchen too.
Pâte à Choux
100 gm butter
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
For choux pastry:
- Bring butter, sugar, salt, and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat.
- Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir in flour. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture pulls away from sides and a film forms on bottom of pan, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until slightly cooled, about 1 minute.
- Raise speed to medium; add whole eggs, 1 at a time, until a soft peak forms when batter is touched with your finger. If peak does not form, lightly beat remaining egg white, and mix it into batter a little at a time until it does.
- Preheat oven to 220 C/425 F. With a rack in the center. Line two unrimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip with pate a choux batter; pipe out oblong shapes, about 3 1/2 inches long and 1 inch wide, onto prepared baking sheets at 2-inch intervals.
- Gently run a fork dipped in water along each top, making straight lines to ensure even rising.
- Cover one baking sheet with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator.
- Transfer the second sheet to the oven. Bake 10 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 180 C/350 F. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes more.
- Turn off oven; prop door open slightly to let steam escape. Allow eclairs to dry in oven until centers are damp but no wet dough remain (test by cutting into the center of one), about 15 minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Raise heat back to 425 degrees and repeat process with remaining batch.
- Insert a skewer into one end, and move it around to expand opening for cream; set aside.
For pastry cream:
- Prepare an ice bath; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine egg yolks, egg, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Add cornstarch and flour; whisk until smooth and pale yellow. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, combine milk and remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Stir over medium-high heat until milk begins to steam.
- Whisking constantly, add half the hot milk to the egg-yolk mixture. Stir until smooth; add combined mixture back to remaining hot milk in the pan.
- Bring mixture to a boil, whisking rapidly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla. Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl.
- Place over ice bath and let stand, stirring frequently, until cool.
- Pipe cooled pastry cream into holed choux pastry.
- Spread over nutella as much as you like and sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts.