Chouquettes (Sugar Puffs) Recipe

Chouquettes are little puffs of choux pastry, sprinkled with coarse sugar.

They can be bought by the weight in French bakeries, in a thin bulging paper bag. When you’re a kid, the best part is eating the sugar cristals that have collected at the bottom of the bag when the last of the chouquettes has been devoured. The proper way to do this is lick your index finger and gently pick up the cristals (be warned, you may have to fight your sister for them), until the sugar is crushed too finely and you give up, then just pour the remnants directly into your mouth, shaking the paper bag to get it all.

Chouquettes are also one of my boyfriend’s favorites, and he can tell you which bakeries around his office or in our neighborhood have reached the best standards in quality chouquettes.

When you’re a kid, the best part is eating the sugar cristals that have collected at the bottom of the bag when the last of the chouquettes has been devoured.

Having recently, and to my great delight, found a bag of the special coarse sugar that chouquettes require, Saturday afternoon found me happily setting forth on the project of making my own sugar puffs, sort of following the recipe given by this great cookbook Maxence (who knows me oh-so-well) gave me for my birthday last year, called “Les Gâteaux de Mamy” (Grandma’s cakes). I say “sort of” because I did compare this recipe with others I found on the web, and changed a few things around based on their recommendations, like I usually do.

The first batch was submitted to the test of the in-house expert, who declared them yummy. He did say they were a little moister and eggier tasting than bakery-bought chouquettes, and I decided that this was because they were a little undercooked, as our oven seems to run a little colder than it says (note to self, buy an oven thermometer, find out if this is true and quit complaining). Some websites recommended to leave them to cool down a little in the turned off oven, but I am Jack’s lack of patience, and I couldn’t resist taking them out right away, which did cause them to deflate a little (no incidence on taste, of course, just looks).

So the second batch was baked at a higher temp and for longer, leaving them inside for a little while this time. (The instructions below reflect this method.) This batch turned out to be just what our tastebuds hoped for : slightly crusty yet tender little pillows that melt in your mouth, contrasting with the delicously crunchy sugar cristals.

UPDATE 1. Below is a revised recipe, as it appears in Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris, my book on Paris restaurants and food shops.

UPDATE 2. 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.

Chouquettes (Sugar Puffs) Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Makes about 40.

Chouquettes (Sugar Puffs) Recipe

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Make sure you have all the ingredients measured out before you start.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Notes

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.

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  • http://www.gastroblog.com Jackie

    Oh, I have all the ingredients for this (save the coarse sugar), so I think I will make them tonight! I’m tempted to do a batch of cheese puffs and one with sugar (with a streudel topping in lieu of the coarse sugar).

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Jackie – So glad you tried it and blogged about it!

  • kelli ann

    hi clotilde! and happy (belated) birthday! i have just popped my chouquettes in the oven, and am dying to see if they will puff up at all. my pâte is very runny (not walnut-sized, but coin-shaped) – we’ll see. btw, after reading about trish deseine on your site, i have since found “le bonheur est dans le plat” and am saving my “loonies” for a copy of “J’en veux encore”. that melted butter/chocolate confection that masquerades as a cake is just fantastic!!

    take care

    -kelli ann

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Kelli ann – So, so, so? How’d it go?

  • Sakinah

    oh i tried your recipe so many times, a big hit each time!!!! thanks, they are all puffy, little crispy on the top. QUE DU BONHEUR!!!
    Bravo pour ton blog!!!!

  • maegan

    Clotilde,
    I’ve been drooling over so many of your recipes for about a year now, and never concidered myself very talented in the kitchen. So I never attempted any of your recipes until recently, in fear that I would put them to shame.
    One day I became overwhelmed with the urge to try my hand at one though. I tried your oeuf cocotte. It was a flop. I don’t know what I did wrong. the egg remained raw and it remained runny throughout. I was a little disappointed but today I had my go at your chouquettes.
    Well I’m wondering if you could help me out a little, here. Maybe I’m not meant to cook or bake, but I’d like to have another go at it. I’d like to check with you on if the dough. Is it supposed to be runny or, well, doughy? I found mine was really runny (leaving me with more than enough “pâte à choux soup” to make 25 blobs on my pan) and then once I put them in the oven after about 5 minutes they had puffed up a tiny bit but were turning black.
    So, can you help me?
    Thanks,
    Maegan

    • Sue

      When you test the temperature of your oven, if it appears to be accurate, you might consider going one step further. Many years ago living in military housing, I did my usual baking but had some pretty unusual results. I tested the temperature: set oven to 350 degrees F, wait 15 minutes, check thermometer. Seemed fine. Waited another 15 minutes and checked again. Seemed fine. But when I checked again after a total of 45 minutes, the temperature read 500 degrees. So the next day, I got a good book, looked up a bunch of daytime tv programs I’d enjoy, and began what became my serious testing of the oven’s thermostat. I set the oven at the lowest temperature, waited 15 minutes. Recorded the temperature in the oven. Then every 15 minutes thereafter, I set the oven for 25 degrees higher, and recorded the results. While waiting I enjoyed that book and the tv shows. Took quite awhile to test ALL temperatures on the oven’s knob. And I discovered something interesting. The oven heated to 200 degrees but at some point around the oven being set for 350 degrees the oven actually heated to 500 degrees. So I did another test the next day. I set the oven for 325 degrees and waited one hour. The oven’s temperature was 200 degrees. So I set the oven for 350 degrees and waited another hour. The oven’s temperature was 500 degrees. I reported the faulty oven to the powers that be, who sent out a technician who told me that no thermometer I bought was adequate to actually test my oven’s temperature. So I showed him the page of recorded oven settings and times and temperatures recorded by my inadequate thermometer. He had to acknowledge that the marked difference was great enough to show that the oven’s thermostat was faulty. I got a new oven. Then at a wives’ function when I told the story, someone told me that the woman who’d lived in the house before me had complained about the oven, and been told by a technician that it was fine. My having data to disprove that made all the difference. But I suspect some other woman got that faulty oven taken from my place–hey if a quick test shows it’s fine, it’s fine. Right? NOT. Sorry this is so long, but thought you should have some idea of how to be sure that your oven achieves the temperature you set. Good luck with the baking!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Maegan – The dough for the chouquettes is supposed to be doughy, not runny. Did you measure the ingredients with a scale? As for the oeuf cocotte, did you put *hot* water in the dish to surround your ramequins? And it sounds like maybe your oven wasn’t hot enough — it may be a good idea to test its accuracy with an oven thermometer. Hope that helps a little and good luck with your future endeavors!

  • maegan

    Thank you for you quick reply!
    I did not measure using a scale, but I attempted to used you conversion page. Maybe I incorrectly converted my flour amount to a little over 1/2 a cup. Maybe I should have used more. Who knows maybe I just made a silly slipup, and didn’t notice.
    I shall also have to check my oven’s accuracy once I get a chance. Thank you so much, and I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

  • valentina

    dear clotilde,
    yesterday night i did your chouquettes and at the second try they came out perfect! let me explain my error to meagan, i’m pretty sure that most of the people who, at the end, had they dough more liquid than solid made my same mistake:

    be sure to add the flour while the saucepan is still on heat and keep it there until the dough loose its liquid aspect and start to solidify.
    now you can let it cool in a bowl before adding the eggs one by one.

    Meagan you can be a very good cooker, the secret at the beginning is to be very sever and follow every single step of the recipe and measure everything, never adding or taking away any extra gram or ml of any ingredient.

    at my first try i didn’t notice this passage, i had added the flour when the melted butter-water-sugar were already in the bowl and the recipe was definitively ruined. (i actually tried to add some bicarbonate and to put the liquid dough in small cups in the oven, they just turned brown and burned in 5 minutes, there was no hope for them)

    once you have your fluffy chouquettes, just cut them horizontally and fill them with fresh wiped cream, they seam to be born for that!

    ciao
    Clotilede, i really enjoy both the recipe and the picture of your blog.
    actually i miss some pics of the key passage of the recipes, to know how a dough looks like at the end is essential, especialy for beginners like us.

    vale
    ps
    meagan i’m going to send you some pics of how it turned out my first and my second time, clotilde i couldn’t find your mail to put you in copy.

  • Sarah

    I was just wondering if anyone knew the American measurements? The recipe sounds wonderful, but I sadly only have access to cups and measuring spoons…help?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Sarah – I’ve updated the recipe above with the American-style measurements. Happy chouquetting!

  • Angela

    Hi Clotilde,
    I tried to make your recipe of chouquettes today, but unfortunately my dough was more like a batter. After ‘googling’ a bit I changed the ingredients to 100cc water, 50 g butter, 75 g flour, little salt, 10 g sugar and 1 teaspoon baking powder. This worked out far better for me. I did make some nice blini-looking ‘things’ with the batter and with some chocolate creme inside they were really scrumptious.

  • Tina

    After a burning failing 1st attempt, I have successfully brought out a lovely second batch!

    There’s a couple of things I thought that may help others -

    1) – coarse sugar – i ididn’t have any – but the ones sold in Paul’s (sorry Clotilde!!) seem to be just small lumps of caster sugar .. so I mixed a tsp of water into 1/3 cup of sugar until small lumps form and leave it to dry out a little whilst I prepare my other ingredients. At the end I drop a small lump of this messy sugar and press the ‘lump’ lightly – which spreads out perfectly as small lumps!

    2) I also had the problem of runny batter – but I found (by accident) – that by the time I baked the second batch with the same batter as the 1st – the batter had cooled down quite a bit and became much harder and more walnut like! So I would say give the dough a chance to cool down a fraction before making balls!

    Thanks Clotilde for the wonderful recipe – before this chouquettes was one of those things that I thought only the bakers could make!

  • http://andreainthekitchen.wordpress.com Andrea

    So excited to see this recipe. I gained a couple of kilos eating these the last time I was in Paris from the little pattesarie on the Ille St Louis. These little gems and Berthillan ice cream on the same island. Bliss. Thank you for sharing!

  • msue

    Sugar puffs – delightful little drops of happiness! How I loved making them from your book, and how I’ll love making them again this weekend. They cause a bit of a conundrum though: though delicious enough to share with friends, it is very tempting to discretely hide them just for yourself. Soooo goood!

  • John-Christopher

    Here is a link to Cooks’ Illustrated oven temp measuring trick.

  • hilary

    clotilde,
    could these be made in a madeleine pan? i got one for xmas and wanted to use it! haven’t found a madeleine recipe yet…
    hilary

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Hilary – You could dollop the batter into your madeleine molds — they should impart slight ridges to the bottom of the chouquettes — but it would not be very traditional.

  • http://www.chocolateheavensite.com Lynn

    These are added to my list! I adore things like this. I also just love the name of your site. How catchy!!! I’ll be back to read some more soon.

  • Lydia

    I made these this evening with demerara sugar as I don’t know where to get sucre perlé in london, and they puffed up beautifully but I left them in a bit too long so they are a darker brown than your golden lovelies – but no matter, they still taste good. I have never seen them in France but will look next time I go…to try the real thing.
    Thanks for the recipe and all your other entertaining wonderings!

  • Isabelle

    I happily discovered that Ikea sells sugar pearls in their grocery section. My husband’s first stop when he returns to France for vacation is to buy chouquettes at the bakery. This is one of the main pleasures he misses living in the US. I made them several times without the pearls but it just isn’t the same without them!

  • kelli ann

    message for hilary:: i use the madeleine recipe from the trish deseine book i mentioned waaaay back in 2004, in a comment to this same post! (huge coincidence) — it is infallible, buttery and eggy and delicious (and trish is right, a silicon madeleine pan is a blessing!) will be baking both chouquettes and gougères again very soon; david leibovitz had a piece over the holidays about cheese puffs. mmm– cheese!

  • http://www.fromsingletomarried.com Tabitha (From Single to Married)

    thanks for the American measurements – these look fantastic! Hope I can do it without deflating them. :)

  • Raluca

    I made this last night and it came out great! Couldn’t find pearl sugar so i either ate them plain or filled them with nutella. delicious! Thank you!

  • http://www.cowgirlchef.com Ellise

    Hi Clotilde, I love these and have been wanting to make them, and now I’m inspired. Two questions, though. Which French flour do you use, and do you use the convection setting on your oven to bake these? Thanks!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Ellise – I use either T55 or T65 flour, depending on what I have on hand. And you can use the convection setting of your oven, but then it’s best to lower the temp a little after the first 5 minutes of baking, to compensate for the more efficient heat circulation. Happy chouquetting!

  • Evelyn

    Hi Clotilde,

    I was wondering if these little beauties would last for a school fete….or do they have to be eaten fairly quickly after baking??

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Evelyn – These will last for a few hours, but I’d bake them as close as possible to the time of the fete (e.g. in late morning if the party is in the afternoon). Make sure you don’t underbake them, too, or they’ll turn softer sooner.

  • Evelyn

    Thankyou for your response! I’ll give them a go and let you know the results soon.
    Love your website and it’s a great source of inspiration!

  • Sonja Renda

    Isn’t this recipe a cream puff recipe?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Sonja – Cream puffs (in French: choux à la crème) are cousins of chouquettes, and you can use the same basic pâte à choux recipe: just hold the pearl sugar and fill them with pastry cream once cool.

  • http://plumcot.blogspot.com Kartik

    Hi Clotilde,
    Big fan of your website. Quick question. Do you happen to have any thoughts on savory versions of choquettes – with certain herbs, like rosemary?
    Thanks,
    Kartik

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      The most classic savory version of this is the gougère, which is like a cheese chouquette. I love them (great for an apéritif), and like to flavor them with cumin — I have a recipe in my cookbook, if you want to take a look.

  • Laura

    When my daughter and I were visiting friends near Giverny, the hostess put out a plate of these little gems (with chocolate chips). We “accidentally” ate the whole plate! Had to ask what they were, so I could make them when I came back to the States. Thanks to your easy to follow recipe, everyone at home now LOVES them too! I ended up crushing sugar cubes (which worked perfectly) and stirred in some chocolate chips. I think the key is to make sure they aren’t too big. I also learned not to store them in tupperware or they get soggy FAST!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      That’s wonderful to hear, Laura, thank you.

  • Susan

    First, let me congratulate you on the birth of Milan. I wish you and your family all the best.

    This chouquette recipe certainly has longevity! I buy them from time to time in the boulangeries (10 for 2€ is a small indulgence) but I’ve been meaning to make them since I spotted your recipe here a year ago, and I even picked up the pearl sugar at G. Detou a few months ago. Finally my sister-in-law Françoise and I made them yesterday morning using the French version. She had memories of making choux pastry as a child so that helped me to see the right consistency for the dough, and other such details.

    For our first time, I would say they were a very good effort but we’ve made a few notes for the next time. The oven we used is of great quality but I think the temperature was not even throughout as the chouquettes browned more on one side of the pan than the other. Also at 20 minutes the chouquettes that were less brown were underdone so we’ll place them differently next time.

    We waited 40 minutes to make the first batch but the dough is easier to work with if it has been sitting longer (the 2nd was better). And we got the size more or less right but next time, a small reduction could be better as we finished with 32 not 40 so they might have too big to cook evenly.

    It was a nice shared experience all the same and got lots of praise for our efforts.
    I may make them when I’m in Canada this summer so they will be baked in a different oven and made with different flour, eggs etc. ! I’ll stick with the metric version so I’m not adjusting any more than I have to. ;) Baking is about details and chemistry so practice makes perfect, and I’m happy to practice these again.
    Thank you,

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks so much for reporting back, Susan, I enjoyed reading about your experience!

  • Rene

    I tried to make this in Australia and found it impossible to find pearl sugar until I finally run into this website.
    I hope this helps all your cooks down under…

  • Kelli Ann

    Sweet smile! Reading through the comments, I realize that I have ventured here before (in 2004!) and here I am again, and we both have had babies since then– your first, my third (Zoé was born in Jan. 2007). I have just made a batch with David L.’s recipe, which is pretty much exactly like yours. (In 2004, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t find Bégin Say sugar crystals, happy to report that in 2013 I have!) End-of school puffy crunchy treats. Deelish!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Lovely to see you here again, Kelli Ann!

  • http://www.auxvoletsbleus.com Gill Catterall

    One of my local boulangers does these on a Wednesday. I don’t often drive past, so if it’s a Wednesday, I always stop and buy a bag full. They are not puffy like yours, but look as if they have deflated. If kept, they dry out and are great for after dinner with a coffee.

    I love your blog and especially the French Idioms as I have been living in France for 11 years, semi-retired, I run a gite and cattery business. I wish my French were as good as your English, but I struggle, even though I am fairly well integrated. I learnt German when I was young and think it is still better than my French, I only lived there for 6 years, working as a software engineer too.

    Last year I edited my daughter in law’s book “Sushi at home” before it went to Penguin for publication. As a Japanese, her written English is as good or bad as my written French.

    I have recently made your yoghurt cake, topped with flaked almonds and sugar, it was lovely, so I soon made another great one topped with wild bilberries, and one with figs(less successful, it was rather stodgy, possibly the raw sugar?).

    I have always loved cooking and look forward to making more of your recipes. Thank you.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thank you so much for your comment, Gill, which I read with great pleasure. Best of luck with your business, and do report back on any more recipes you try in the future!

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