Pâte à choux can be made into some of the most glorious things. From éclairs to religieuse, gateau St. Honoré to profiteroles, the possibilities are endless. The batter for pâte à choux uses simple ingredients with a unique technique that will give you an end result that is truly stunning. Also, this eggy little pastry is the perfect vehicle for so many fillings. With the baked pâte à choux being very light, airy, and having a simple buttery egg taste, filling it with any sort of custard, jam, or whipped ganache is certainly on the table!
After returning from a two week Eurotrip with my family, I figured I would share something wonderful, delicious and very French! Our two weeks included seeing the absolutely surreal waterfalls of Iceland, biking around the cutest and friendliest city of Amsterdam, and, of course, eating pastries by the handful while looking at magnificent Monet's in Paris. As I had studied abroad in France twice while in college, this return was even more incredible because I was able to share the version of Paris that I knew, the patisseries that I frequented, and those little museums that are about 1/8th as crowded as the Louvre.
As a student living in Paris years ago, my meals would consist of vegetables, cheese and baguettes. Not only were they budget friendly, but they were obviously super French (at least that's what I told myself)! Coming back almost 5 years later, that is exactly what I craved. As we had been eating out for over a week, I basically forced all that were on this trip to have, what I call, a typical Parisian dinner. We got wine, we got baguettes, we got cheese, we got pastries. From there, we were off to sit in the grass near la tour Eiffel, watch the light show and enjoy this fabulous meal with even better company.
So now, I invite all of you to get yourself all of the fixings for a Parisian meal, and finish it off with homemade profiteroles (also delicious frozen!). Not only are they divine as you fill them with an easy-to-make diplomat cream, but they are small enough that eating a few at a time is acceptable! Go put on some Édith Piaf, pour yourself a glass of wine and get to baking!
pâte à choux ingredients
Milk—2 oz, or ¼ C + 1 TBL
Water—2 oz, or ¼ C + 1 TBL
Butter—2 oz, or 4 TBL
Flour—2 oz, or 1/3 C
Eggs—2 or 3 (explained in process!)
Preheat oven to 375˚F.
In a medium pot, boil the milk, water, salt and butter.
Remove from heat, add flour and stir until combined. A wooden spoon is best for this!
Return to medium heat. Stir until the mixture comes together into a ball and there is a slight film on the bottom of the pot.
Once the dough has formed a film, put into the bowl of your mixer and, using the paddle, mix on low for a few minutes to allow it to cool down.
Now add your eggs in 3 or 4 parts, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition.
The reason why you want to add the eggs in parts as well as why you may need 2 on one day and 3 on the next is due to the moisture in the air. What do you want the final batter to look like? When you dip the paddle into the batter and lift it up, you want a slight drip, but mostly you want it to look like an arrowhead (real culinary school term, of course!).
Therefore, if Saturday, the air is drier, you will most likely be adding the 3 eggs, but say you decide to make more pâte à choux on Tuesday, and it’s humid and sticky, 2 eggs will be all you need!
When your batter is ready, put into a piping bag that has been fitted with a medium-sized round tip (#804 in my set), and put all of your batter into the bag.
Pipe balls that are about 1½”-2” in diameter on a sheet pan with a piece of parchment, making sure to lift up as you pipe so that they come out as round balls, not flat.
Make sure that you have at least 2” between each that you have piped so that they do not stick together!
Put in your oven, bake for about 20 minutes, or until they have a light golden brown color to them.
Remove from the oven, off the sheet pan and right onto your cooling rack!
pastry cream ingredients
Milk—8 oz, or 1 C
Sugar—2 oz, or ¼ C
Flour—0.75 oz, or 2 TBL
Vanilla—0.15 oz, or 1 tsp
Butter (soft)—0.75 oz, or 1.5 TBL
In a medium pot, combine 90% of the milk and 50% of the sugar (eyeball it!).
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and the rest of the milk to create a slurry.
To this slurry, add the eggs and the other 50% of the sugar.
Bring the milk-sugar mixture in the pot to a boil.
When it begins to boil, slowly temper about 75% of it into the flour slurry you made earlier, whisking constantly as to not cook the eggs.
Put all back into the pot, then back on medium heat and whisk until the pastry cream thickens and begins to boil.
Remove from heat, whisk in vanilla and butter.
Pour the pastry cream onto plastic wrap, let cool, and if you aren’t going to use it once cool, store in the refrigerator.
Heavy Cream—8 oz, or 1 C
Pastry Cream—about 16 oz, or 2 C
This is going to be the filling for your cream puffs!
Whip the heavy cream until it is slightly stiff.
I used almond-coconut milk in my pastry cream, so it is not as thick as it would be had I used regular milk! This is also why I whipped the cream to stiff, but if you use regular milk, whip the cream less because the pastry cream will be thicker. You want a final product of diplomat cream to be pipable and hold in the cream puffs!
Gently fold this into your pastry cream.
Milk Chocolate—4 oz, or ¾ C
Butter—3 oz, or 6 TBL
Corn Syrup—0.3 oz, or ½ TBL
Make a double boiler by placing all of the ingredients into a medium bowl over a pot of water.
Place your double boiler on the stove, turn the burner on medium-low so that the water in the pot will begin to simmer, then melting the chocolate.
Once the butter and chocolate begin to melt, start to stir until it has all combined.
Now it is time to glaze all of your cream puffs!