I dare you to stop at one… les chouquettes
One of the perks of my job is that I get to go to Roland Garros (or more commonly known as the French Open) every year. The company I work for is one of the main sponsors of Roland Garros, so we take a bunch of journalists to meet up with some of our execs each time.
This year’s press trip could have ended horribly though. During our lunch at Roland Garros, the heaven’s opened up and, I kid you not, I haven’t seen such torrential rain since I was at home in Singapore during the monsoon season!
We’d all had to wake up at crack of arse to get to the train for Paris, and when it started to pour, all of the journalists and I had almost resigned ourselves to the possibility of returning to London without seeing any tennis whatsoever. Thankfully, just as we were about to leave, the rain stopped and blazing sunshine erupted again so that play could resume. We had all hoped to have watched the Sharapova match but as all the games were delayed, we at least still managed to catch a couple of hours watching S.Stusor and S.Errani play on Centre Court before we had to dash back to Gare Du Nord station. Phew!
It seems therefore only fitting that the recipe I’m posting today is French, and more importantly, one of my most favourite things to eat when in France.
Whenever I’m in Paris, I invariably cannot resist walking into the nearest boulangerie to pick up at least 200 grams of ‘les chouquettes’ – these golden, delicious bite-sized balls of choux pastry puffs covered in pearl sugar – which equates to about 20 of these little treats.
I always buy a big bag to share with my French colleagues at work, and even though they live in Paris and pass at least 3-4 boulangeries on their way in to/from work, I’ve noticed that the bag of chouquettes never lasts long. It’s impossible to stop at just one!
Ever since I started thebigfatnoodle, I’ve always wanted to make my own chouquettes; after all, it really is simply choux pastry sprinkled with pearl sugar and baked in the oven. Unfortunately, it is IMPOSSIBLE to find pearl sugar in the UK. I have spent hours online trying to find a supplier and in the end, I resorted to getting my husband to pick some up from the supermarket when he went skiing in France earlier this year.
If you have a preferred choux pastry recipe, I don’t see why you can’t stick to it. I went online and decided to try David Lebovitz’s recipe because it looks much crunchier than what you normally see at the bakery.
I did run out of eggs so instead of an egg glaze, I decided to create a milk-based sugar syrup, which worked a treat! The milky sugar syrup melted and caramelised on the bottom of each chouquette, giving it that extra crunch and stickiness at the same time.
A word of warning though if you’re following David Lebovitz’s recipe, he’s recommended a 220 (degrees celsius) but I found that much too high and I thankfully managed to save them before they got burnt (apart from some on the sides of my baking tray). I would recommend baking them in a 200 degree oven, especially if yours is a fan assisted oven like mine.
Separately, some good news for me! I have been asked to be one of 20 judges at our upcoming Godalming Great British Bake Off, wooooo hoooooooo! It’s going to take place on 7 July and Dhruv Baker, the winner of Masterchef 2010, is going to be our celebrity chef judge. How exciting is that???
And as for the best bit about being asked?
When I checked with the organisers if they needed me to do anything beforehand, here’s what they said…
“All we require is for you to be there on the day to taste cake.”
Now that is music to my ears…!
Happy weekend everyone.
Lots of love
David Lebovitz’s recipe for Les Chouquettes (Make a big batch of about 40-50)
1 cup (250ml) water
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 cup (135g) flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
At least 2 cups of pearl sugar (also called crystal sugar)
Thebigfatnoodle’s tweak for the glaze
1 tablespoon of milk
1 tablespoon of sugar
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (220 degrees celsius) and line at least 2-3 baking trays.
In a saucepan, heat the butter, salt, sugar and water until the butter melts.
Empty your cup of flour into the mixture all at once and stir well until the pastry mix comes away easily from the side of the saucepan. Leave it to cool for 2 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a mixer or if you don’t have one, start beating in the eggs, one at a time, until it forms a silky, glossy batter.
Ladle about 1 teaspoon of batter onto your tray and space out each mound with at least 2 cm to spare – these puffs expand quite a lot.
Dab each mound with the milky sugar syrup and then top generously with pearl sugar.
You want to pile as much pearl sugar onto each mound as you can.
Bake these in the oven for
s Heat the water, salt, sugar, and butter in a small saucepan, stirring, until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and dump all the flour in at once. Stir rapidly until the mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes but keep an eye on them for temperature control.
Once they come out, use a skewer to punch a hole into them to allow the heat to escape – these will help make the choquettes extra crispy.
They are best eaten the day they’re baked but I quite like them the next day too when they’ve soft and really sticky from the sugar.