Serves: Makes around 50 Chouquettes
Approx cost: ~€1.90
Approx calories (per chouquette): ~50
Approx preparation and cooking time: ~50 minutes
Howdy folks. I don’t often draw inspiration from my country of residence for my posts, and it’s time to put a stop to that because let’s face it – there’s a whole wealth of amazing foods in France, just waiting to be eaten. I’m going to share with you something wonderful today – they’re light, they’re fluffy, they’re impossible to stop eating once you start, and they make the most fantastic accompaniment to a steaming mug of coffee and a croissant at breakfast, or in a big basket with some afternoon tea, or as a snack, or… well, any time really! They are, of course, chouquettes (pronounced: shoo-kett).
A chouquette is a viennoiserie consisting of a small portion of choux pastry sprinkled with pearl sugar. It is sometimes filled with custard or mousse. Sometimes a chouquette can be dipped in chocolate or covered in chocolate chips.
I will admit to being a little surprised, the first time I tried these. In a country where choux pastry in every shape and form is invariably filled with some sort of cream, sauce or ice-cream, I was expecting something delicious to be hidden inside, beneath the light, crispy surface. After a few attempts though, I realised that the beauty of these is in their simplicity. Pastry, sugar, and a wonderful pocket of air!
If you’re in France, stop by a bakery to pick up a bag of these – they’re sold loose in big baskets, and you usually just ask for “100g de chouquettes”. That will land you about 8-10 pieces (better make it 200g!) and will set you back about €1.60. Bargain you say – 10 little pastries for less than €2? Really? No! While buying them from a bakery is all well and good (not many people carry ovens and mixing bowls around with them when they go out for a sightseeing trip after all!), I’ll tell you what’s even better – making them yourself, and enjoying them fresh, straight from the oven.
While pearl sugar is quite important, if you don’t have it, just get the coarsest grain of sugar you can find – something like demerara maybe, and sprinkle that all over the top. What you’re after is the sweetness, and slight crispiness once it cools. Another thing to note – these really don’t store well. You do not want them knocking about for more than a day. Stashing them away overnight will result in soggy, sunken blobs which do not look appetizing, so ensure that you make them fresh, just a few hours before the desired eating time
Have a great Thursday everyone and get baking!
- 125g Plain Flour
- 60g Butter
- 50g Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 4 Eggs + 1 for glazing
- 250ml Water
- Handful of pearl sugar or other coarse grain sugar
- Start off by placing the Butter, Sugar, Salt and Water into a large saucepan and bringing to the boil, stirring well to ensure the butter and sugar has all melted and dissolved.
- Next, remove the pan from the heat and pour the flour into the liquid in one smooth motion. Mix well with a wooden spoon. It will slowly transform from a rather nasty looking mess into a smooth, thick paste.
- After you’ve completely worked out all the lumps you should be left with a very thick mixture which has an almost dough-like quality. The dough should come away easily from the edges of the pan and you should be able to shape it into a ball using the spoon. Once you have this, set the pan aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- Once the dough has cooled a little, add in the four eggs, one by one, mixing well between each addition and you should have something which looks roughly like this:
- Turn your oven on to pre-heat to 180 degrees Celsius and then grease a baking sheet and pick up small blobs of the mixture using a teaspoon. Using another teaspoon, slide the mixture off onto the baking sheet. They don’t spread when in the oven, so you don’t need to leave too much space between each one – maybe 3cm. If you have an Icing Bag Set you can also use it to pipe out small blobs of the pastry. Finally, mix the last egg with 1 tbsp of water to loosen it up and brush it on (more like “dab it on”) to the pastry blobs using a soft pastry brush, and then sprinkle liberally with the pearl sugar.
- Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until puffed up and the tops are turning a golden brow, before removing and allowing to cool. Some of the chouquettes may sink. upon removal from the oven, though most will be fine. Chalk those up as being “defective” and eat those immediately Once cool, carefully remove from the tray and store, uncovered, in a basket. Eat the same day, or in the worst case, within 24 hours. Enjoy