I was inspired to bake these little French pastry puffs because of my excitement with an upcoming trip to Paris and having recently seen an episode of Rachel Khoo's Little Paris Kitchen with my kids - the one thing we can all agree to watch together. Having baked plenty of cream puffs during my restaurant days, for some reason I've never made them at home. Oh what my family have been missing...
The dough for these chouquettes is called Pâte à Choux. Quite simple to prepare, these are best served straight out of the oven - a warm crisp exterior and a delightfully airy center. Just be prepared for them to disappear almost immediately, which is great since they don't keep so well. If they sit overnight be prepared for a soggy pastry - still edible while standing in the kitchen at midnight in your undies, but not amazing.
The chouquettes are topped with mini chocolate chips and pearl sugar, which resembles coarse sea salt. It can be found at Sur La Table, but I ordered it from Amazon. Someone told me Ikea sells it as well.
For a savory hors d'oeuvre fold in shredded Gruyere cheese, black pepper and an herb of your choice into the batter. This is called a gougères, and they pair perfectly with champagne. This is what I'll munching on over the holidays...
Lemon curd or pastry cream makes a great filing - pipe into the center and dust with confectioners sugar. These are also wonderful cut in half, filled with ice cream and topped with warm chocolate sauce or caramel. —Château Lingourdy
Preheat oven to 425°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan bring butter, water, salt and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add flour all at once. Stir vigorously until the mixture forms a smooth ball. Remove from heat and let cool for about two minutes. Add eggs one at time until the mixture is glossy and creamy in texture.
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a medium tip and pipe small rounds onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Brush gently with egg wash and top with chocolate chips and pearl sugar.
Bake for 12 minutes, or until chouquettes are golden brown and puffed.
Hint: The puffs can be piped, frozen and stored in a freezer bag, ready for baking at your convenience.