One thing I really do love about keeping a blog is the creativity it has encouraged for me. I want to think of interesting things for you – both to just think about and encourage your own creativity, but also because I want to keep us guessing about traditional desserts really are. We can think in terms of little bites, celebration pieces (whole cakes), sometimes-savory pastries, decadence, something light, heavily spiced, barely-there spices… The world is our bundt cake, for a lack of a better term. And it’s so exciting!
I am SO thankful for the influx of orders I’ve had lately, but I haven’t had as much time to think about lil’ things that sound fun and different to make for my own creativity. I spent Saturday catching up on things around the house that have been driving me crazy, that no one else even notices – then on Sunday, I actually got to do some me things. Like, make breakfast (literally have not been making time for that), sit at my dining room table, and look through cookbooks. I didn’t actually read them, but they were in front of me and I paged through them, looking at key words, recipe titles, photos, etc. I needed some inspiration and I needed to see what is existing outside of my own world. It was time that I needed to think about the pastries that other people are making. I tend to work in a vacuum, which I think has been hugely successful and awesome for me, but it’s important to take trips to the outside world, outside the Internet. Like I said above, I’m trying to think in terms of many different kinds of desserts, not just ‘What kind of cake should I make today?’ I get stuck in 8″-springform-pan mode and, as fun as that is, it’s not interesting after a while.
These little chouquettes were perfect for yesterday. They are awesome because, a) you can whip them up super fast (60 mins or less) when you need pastries in a hurry, b) they are essentially just little puffs of serious sugar, and c) I literally just took a bite of one and it actually puffed in my mouth from the trapped air inside. Oh, and the pearl sugar was crunchy, next to the chewy dough. So, if those are interesting prospects to you, these treats are for you.
They are little rounds of pâte à choux dough, that you completely cover in rough, Swedish pearl sugar. They bake up super puffy in the middle, with chewy dough, and slightly caramelized sugar on the outside. They’re so divine. The first time I had these was in Portland, as a sample from our friend Meagan who bought them at St. Honoré. Traditionally, they are not made with a glaze of any kind, though some people dip them in chocolate. I think these would be delightful for holiday parties, dusted in powdered sugar, or just presented on their own. I made a glaze with orange blossom water and dunked them in sweetened coconut, to make them seriously intense sugar bombs, but that is not required.
I fell in love with these sugary little puffs the moment I ate my first one. They actually look like Christmas tree ornaments, so maybe you should try hanging them on your tree. Or just eat them.
Chouquettes With Orange Blossom Glaze
1 1/2 c water
1 stick + 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (or you can use Earth Balance)
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
7-8 large eggs
Preheat your oven to 415 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pants with parchment of silicon mats.
Put the water, butter, sugar, and salt in a heavy-bottom saucepan and put on high heat on your stove top. Stir occasionally and heat until the butter is melted and the mixture just reaches a boil. Take the pan off the heat. Add the flour in all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Once all of the flour is incorporated, put back on medium-high heat. Stir constantly for about two minutes. The goal at this point is to cook out as much moisture as you can, thus allowing the choux dough to puff up in the oven. A thin film will develop on the bottom of your pan. “Once you think you’ve stirred long enough, add another minute,” is what my first chef always told me.
Place in the bowl of a mixer and beat with a paddle attachment. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing to combine after each addition. Scrape the sides of your bowl as necessary to keep everything homogenous. The mixture should be, after 7 eggs are added, glossy and smooth. If it doesn’t fall in a nice ribbon off a spoon, add another egg and mix to combine. Put in a piping bag or a Ziploc bag, and cut the tip off to make the hole about 1/2″ wide. Pipe little half-dollar sized circles of dough on your prepared pans. They won’t spread too much while baking. Top each with a sprinkling of pearl sugar. Bake for 30 mins, rotating the pans after 15 mins. Let cool.
Glaze: Add 3 tsp orange blossom water to 2 c powdered sugar. Add some almond milk if it needs to be thinned out. I added some yellow food coloring, too. Dunk the cooled chouquettes in the glaze, then into the sweetened coconut. Enjoy!