2008 update. Below is a revised recipe, as it appears in Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris, my book on Paris restaurants and food shops.
2009 update. I have slightly improved upon the recipe with a couple of tricks: I now sprinkle the baking sheet with pearl sugar so the chouquettes are more evenly studded, and I brush the raw chouquettes with a sugar syrup to form a slight caramelized crust on top, and help the pearl sugar adhere.
Here is the recipe for chouquettes. For the whole adventure, see Chouquette Story.
Chouquettes (Sugar Puffs)
- 6 tablespoons (75 g) unsalted butter, diced
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons (25 g) sugar
- 1 cup (140 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- Pearl sugar for sprinkling (see note)
For the sugar syrup:
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
Makes about 40.
Resting time: 30 minutes.
Make sure you have all the ingredients measured out before you start. Combine the butter, salt, sugar, and 1 cup (240 ml) fresh water in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat, add the flour all at once, and stir quickly with a wooden spoon until well blended. Return the pan over medium-low heat and keep stirring until the mixture forms a smooth ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Let cool for 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, stirring well after each addition. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to a day; you have just made choux pastry.
Make the sugar syrup: combine the 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat, lower the heat to medium, and simmer for 1 minute. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Sprinkle pearl sugar evenly on the prepared sheet. Remove the batter from the fridge and use two teaspoons - or a piping bag fitted with a plain tip - to form small balls of batter, about the size of a walnut, that you will plop on the prepared sheet, leaving an inch of space between them. Brush with the sugar syrup using a pastry brush, and sprinkle with pearl sugar. (There will be some unused pearl sugar on the sheet, but don't worry about it now; you can collect the grains after baking and reuse them for another batch.)
Bake for 20 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown (never ever open the oven door during the first 10 minutes of baking). Turn off the oven, open the door just a crack, and leave the chouquettes in for another 5 minutes to prevent a temperature shock, which would cause them to deflate.
Transfer to a rack and let cool completely before serving. Keep any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature, and reheat for 5 minutes in a 300°F (150°C) oven to restore the original texture.
Note: Pearl sugar -- sucre perlé in French, and available at G. Detou in Paris -- comes in coarse, lentil-sized nuggets that remain crunchy when baked. It sometimes goes by the name of nib sugar, and can be purchased wherever cake-decorating supplies are sold, in Scandinavian shops (the Swedish call it pärlsocker), or online. If you can't find it, crush sugar cubes in a sturdy storage bag using a rolling pin or a meat mallet; you may find this quite relaxing. Alternatively, use a coarse sugar, such as Demerera or Turbinado, chopped caramelized nuts, or chocolate chips.
Chocolate & Zucchini [http://chocolateandzucchini.com]
All writing and photography on Chocolate & Zucchini is Copyright Clotilde Dusoulier © 2003-2011 unless indicated otherwise. All rights reserved.