If you’ve ever had an eclair, or a cheese puff at a party, chances are you’ve eaten it, maybe without even realizing it. It’s called Pâte à Choux. It’s pronounced paht-ah-shoo (bless you!).
But when I was hunting around for a recipe that wouldn’t require me to make another trip to the store, it felt like The Universe (oh, ok, just Google) was telling me that with flour, butter, and eggs, I could make this mythical pastry and conquer that fear once and for all. Maybe I’m never going to be a pastry chef, but one day I might want to teach other people how to make it, and who wants a teacher who is afraid of a pastry?
So into the kitchen I went, Steamy Kitchen’s Pâte à Choux walk-through pulled up on my smart phone, ready to make this dough my bitch.
Measuring cups and spoons
Mixing bowl (optional)
Gallon sized plastic bag
1 C water
1 stick of butter
1 C flour
1 pinch of salt
1 additional tsp of salt to make them savory
Or 2 tsp sugar to make them sweet
Pre-heat your oven to 425° F.
Bring the water and butter to a simmer. Add the flour and stir, stir, stir as fast as you can in a single direction. The flour will start absorbing the liquid. Keep stirring until it looks something like this:
If, like me, you don’t have a stand mixer, you’ll have to do this next bit by hand.
You can either transfer the dough to a mixing bowl, or, for the sake of keeping the dishes to a minimum, let the pastry and the pot cool off for about five minutes. Steamy Kitchen says you can actually just run the bottom of the pot through some cold tap water until the pot is cooled off. That’s what I did, because I’m an impatient mofo.
Add the salt, and the additional salt or sugar, depending on which way you’re going with this. Then, one at a time mix in the eggs. You’re going to have to pretend that your arm can stir as fast and as strong as the paddle attachment on a stand mixer to get the eggs to mix in. It’s hard to explain, but the egg just really gets slippery and you really have to put a little muscle behind it to get the dough to allow the egg to incorporate. As you mix each egg in, the dough will get thicker, and a little harder to stir. It will also get pretty sticky. Here’s an extreme close-up of what mine looked like after all the eggs were in.
You can put the finished dough into the fridge for up to a day before using it, or get after it right away.
Cut about a 1/4 inch off of one corner, and pipe the dough out onto a lightly greased (I just used the spray stuff) cookie sheet. You can decide how big you make them, but they will get bigger as they bake so leave plenty of room between them. Also, if you get any peaks, wet the tip of your finger and push those down. I know they look cute, but they’ll just burn.
They’ll bake for 6-10 minutes (depending on the size) at 425°, and then for another 18-30 minutes at 350°, according to the recipe. However, I made mine pretty small so they were only in there for about 12 minutes or so after I took the oven temperature down. Try to avoid opening and closing the oven door to check on them a lot, but maybe just give them a little peek after you lower the oven temp to see where they are. That’ll give you an idea of how much longer they have to go.
If you made the dough sweet, you can fill these with anything from pastry cream (or pudding) to ice cream to chocolate sauce. For my filling, I diced up one apple, then cooked it until soft in 2 T of butter, 2 T of brown sugar, and 1 T of the vanilla/chamomile infused maple syrup I got in my Hatchery box. I was going to take a picture but oops! I ate them too fast.
If you’re making them savory, throw in some finely grated cheese or some chopped chives or something like that before you add the eggs to the dough, or fill them with something savory afterwards. Steamy Kitchen gives a yummy sounding recipe for a mushroom pate at the bottom of her recipe.
So, not so scary after all.
I think once you get the hang of this one, you could repeat it any time you want to without too much trouble. I do like the fact that there was only one pot to clean, and how much fun it is to come up with interesting things to fill them with.