Chouquettes

Not enough time these days for detailed long posts and it unfortunately won’t get much better in June with all my work travel, but I’m excited to tell you about it  (Kenya! Burkina Faso! How fitting that I’m watching the national GeoBee on National Geographic right as I type this). I baked these little chouquettes a couple weeks ago just because. Well, actually I wanted to compare pâte à choux recipes. One recipe was the one I used in my eclairs, the other one is Pierre Hermé’s recipe (yes the famous macaron guy).

Both recipes are actually quite similar, the proportions of milk to water and butter differing only slightly. I couldn’t really tell the difference between the two on taste, but for some reason, a few of PH’s chouquettes came out a little flat, literally. It could be that I was a bit too heavy on the eggwash which prevented their rise. These were the best chouquettes I’d made to date though, golden, just the right puffiness, a nice depth of flavor and a good amount of pearl sugar. Decreasing the amount of salt ever so slightly is the only thing that I would change next time.

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Eclairs au Chocolat

Last weekend, I crossed my first item off my 30 Before 30 list. It felt like a true accomplishment. The recipe for eclairs looked deceptively simple but required much more effort than expected. It’s not just the time needed for each component of the recipe (the dough, the filling, the icing) but also the mental exhaustion from thinking and overthinking about each step. Is my pâte à choux going to rise and puff? Is my crème pâtissière sweet enough, too sweet? Am I putting enough chocolate in the glaçage?

Ever since I started this whole baking experience, my respect for bakers and pastry chefs has been growing by leaps and bounds. With savory cooking you can usually taste and adjust as you go along but with baking and pâtisserie you can’t exactly always do that. I suppose experienced bakers have a feel for what things are meant to look like, and for proportions of sugar to flour to eggs. But as a less experienced baker, there’s only so much you can control and sometimes you just have to trust the recipe, your instincts, your oven.

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