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About Working with Choux Pastry or Pate a Choux

Choux pastry, or Pate a Choux is the light golden pastry used in a myriad of recipes. The outside is lightly crispy and the inside boasts lovely hollows that become the perfect vehicle for a myriad of uses. It often envelopes custard, creamy yogurt, or fruit filling.

The lovely pastries made with Pate a Choux are legendary. Following are a few.

Popovers, a great alternative to dinner rolls that can be pulled apart and eaten with butter, filled with cheese, chicken salad, eggs, ice cream, or used as a bowl for soup.

Profiteroles, or cream puffs rounded little balls holding a treasure of rich cream sauce and dusted with confectioner’s sugar, or drizzled with chocolate sauce. See recipe below.

Eclairs, shaped like a finger, filled with cream and usually topped with chocolate.

Croquembouche, the elegant show piece of pastry chefs, a tower of cream puffs often held together with strands of golden caramel.

Puits d’ Amour, or “well of love” in which the dough is baked in a tartlet shell, pressed and the edges are dipped in caramel. Then, the “well” is filled with a rich cream or fruit.

The ingredients for choux pastry are simple, eggs, water, flour, butter, a little sugar and salt. The cooking technique is the only tricky part. The water is needed to create steam which rapidly expands the pastry, leaving those great holes in the center. The dry heat from the oven helps set the dough to create the firm structure without. The combination of the two produces the crusty texture. No two pastries are ever quite the same.

This cream puff recipe is simple, each ingredient lends both flavor and chemical properties. While this recipe uses all purpose flour rather than bread flour, the liquids have been adjusted. Be sure to take the time to sift the dry ingredients to assist in mixing and producing a good consistency.

Cream Puffs

Total Prep Time: 1 hour, 0 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Inactive Time: 0 minutes

Serves: 12 medium puffs

4 3/4 ounces all purpose flour (by weight, or approximately 1/2 cup)

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp sugar

1 Tbs Butter

1/2 cup water

2 large eggs, room temperature

Powdered sugar for dusting, or chocolate sauce for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt the butter in the water before bringing it to a boil. Add the flour and mix well. Continue cooking the mixture to evaporate water not incorporated into the flour. As it thickens, keep stirring. The mixture ready when it is no longer sticky to the touch and pulls away from the sides of the pan. It will resemble mashed potatoes.

Allow the dough to cool for several minutes before adding the eggs. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix thoroughly. Create twelve rounded pieces, about the size of golf balls. Dampen your fingers and smooth any protruding bits.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Do not open the oven door. Bake an additional 30 minutes, or until they have solidified and are golden. Remove the puffs from the oven and cut slits in each one to allow any remaining steam to escape.

When cooled, fill with a custard, creamy yogurt, cheese, or chocolate by piping the desired filling through the slit. Dust with powdered sugar, or drizzle with chocolate sauce.