Remembering Paris {Chouquettes recipe}

Ever since I named this blog, I knew I had to make chouquettes. I’ve made pate a choux before, and turned them into cream puffs. Chouquettes, though, have never graced my kitchen. Chouquettes were something I enjoy in Paris, not something to make. Chouquettes are something you eat out of a crinkly paper bag on your way to the metro. Just thinking about chouquettes fills my nose with the scent of Paris. It never occurred to me to recreate my memories of chouquettes (though I certainly try to recreate my other favorites).

The major stumbling block, though, wasn’t the dough. I’d made it, and found it easier than expected. The stumbling block was the sugar.

If you aren’t familiar with chouquettes, they are covered with delightful pearl sugar that is perfectly sweet and crunchy. Pearl sugar is often used for decorating baked goods, particularly in Scandinavian baking. Since most of my baking is, well, ugly, I don’t have much use for decorative (however delicious) sugar, and didn’t have any in my pantry. It took me a while to get around to buying some, since my local grocer doesn’t carry it, and I had to venture to a baking supply store.chouquettes

The laughable part is that once I had the sugar, even though it was on the counter, I forgot to put it on the chouquettes until they had been in the oven for three minutes. With bated breath, I opened the oven door, slid the oven rack out of the oven and smashed, gently, the sugar onto the half-baked chouquettes, praying they wouldn’t fall because of it. And yet, they didn’t.

I was rewarded with eggy, slightly sugary (only because I didn’t add enough sugar…), light and airy chouquettes. And in hardly no time at all, which are really the best treats.

Chouquettes

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Gougeres from The Best International Recipe

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup pearl sugar

Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Set aside. Beat the eggs and egg white together with a fork in a small liquid measuring cup. Keep 1/2 cup, discard the rest.

Bring the water, butter, milk, salt, and granulated sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir it occasionally until the butter is melted. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the flour until well combined and the mixture forms a dough that clears the sides of the plan, about a minute. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring until the mixture turns shiny and sandy and small beads of fat appear on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process for about ten seconds with the feed tube open to cool the mixture slightly. With the machine running, gradually add the beaten egg in a steady strength. When all the eggs have been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl and process for 30 seconds until the mixture forms a smooth, thick, sticky paste.

Fill the pastry bag with the mixture and pipe onto the prepared baking sheet, forming 2-inch mounds about 1 inch apart. Press the pearl sugar onto the mounds on all sides, covering the mounds as best you can. They’ll puff considerably in the oven, so don’t worry about putting too much on.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375 without opening the oven door. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until they are no longer soft and are instead firm and golden brown.

Remove the chouquettes from the oven and pierce each one on the side with a paring knife. Return them to the oven, turn the oven off, and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Let the pastry dry until the center is just moist (not wet) and the puffs are crisp, about 50 minutes.

Enjoy, and think of Paris.

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