Chouquette (pronounced as shoe-catt) are mini choux pastry or pâte à choux. It’s the French version of cream puff only that it’s small in size and contain no cream filling, instead the surface is dusted with hailstone-like sugar called pearl sugar.
My encounter with chouquette happened many years ago at Delifrance, an Asian French bakery and café. Since then this delicious cutie pie has given me so much joy. It brightens my days just like chocolate! 🙂 I can’t remember how I chanced upon David Lebovitz’s chouquette recipe but it was one of the best day. I actually baked my first chouquette a year ago but it did not went smoothly. The result were humiliating. See for yourself here: Missy Flat Chouquette.
I analyzed why it may have gone wrong and reattempt the same recipe again – not few days or few weeks or few months later. I make chouquette again only just recently (a year later). I guess the failure must have left a horrible mark in my memory. LOL I corrected the method by letting the mixture come to the boil. It was unbelievable that that’s the reason my first chouquette falls flat. I didn’t want to believe that this was it so I tried again (3rd attempt) just to make sure. Another success. So simple? Oh yeah! So I guess that must be it. I can now announce bravely to the world that I no longer fear choux pastry!
I have really high admiration on choux pastry as it uses only 4 simple ingredients: water, butter, flour and eggs but the end result is simply outstanding!!! And it doesn’t even need a raising agent to make it rise. Choux pastry uses the moisture from the dough to create steam to rise and puff the pastry. And the aroma… melts me. If that’s how home sweet home smell like, I want to have it forever. 🙂
Let’s start cooking!
First, preheat oven to 220oC. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper/silicone baking mat.
Once mixture start to boil, remove from heat immediately. Tsk, you can see that the saucepan is still on the stove but the fire is off. Dump all the flour in at once. Stir rapidly until mixture is smooth and pulls away from the side of pan (left photo). Allow dough to cool for two minutes, then briskly beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth and shiny.
The dough shouldn’t be watery (an example here: watery choux pastry). It should be a little thick and fall slowly from the spoon.
Using two spoons, scoop up a mound of choux paste with one spoon roughly the size of an unshelled walnut, and scrape it off with the other spoon onto the baking sheet. Of course you can pipe them out too but I prefer chouquettes that aren’t perfect and rustic. When I made these again (the 3rd time), I make them even smaller so that I can have lots of chouquette. Haha
Place the mounds evenly-spaced apart on the baking sheet. Brush the top of each mound with some of the egg glaze (I actually skipped this step coz too lazy). Then press coarse sugar over the top and sides of each mound. Use a lot.
This is the coarse sugar that I used. Also known as pearl sugar or nib sugar. It is used widely in Scandinavian countries in pastries and cookies. Therefore one of the place to buy this sugar is at Ikea. Too bad Ikea Malaysia doesn’t stock it. I bought mine at G. Detou in Paris (1kg for only €2.50). So cheap. 🙂 I was basically jumping with joy when G. Detou told me they carry this sugar in their shop. Funny though I didn’t encounter chouquette when I was in Paris. 🙁
Then bake them for 25-30 minutes (depends on the size of your chouquette), or until puffed and well-browned. Once take out from the oven, poke a hole or two at the side of chouquette with a knife to let the steam escape so that you’ll get a crispier texture. Let the chouquettes cool a bit before digging into it. I know waiting is daunting!
I made some batch without chocolate chips so that my dog can enjoy too.
According to David, you can freeze the chouquettes up to 1 month once they cooled down. Just defrost them at room temperature and warm briefly in the oven until crisp. But then again, I doubt you would have any left to freeze. 😉
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Yields 35 pieces
1 cup (250ml) water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 cup (135g) flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
plenty of pearl sugar (also known as nib sugar/coarse sugar)
plenty of chocolate chips
Glaze: 1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 teaspoon milk (I skipped this due to laziness LOL)
1. Preheat oven to 220oC. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
2. Heat water, salt, sugar, and butter in a small saucepan, stirring, until the butter is melted. Once the mixture start to boil, remove from heat immediately (too much boiling will evaporate some of the water) and dump all the flour in at once. Stir rapidly until the mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
3. Allow dough to cool for two minutes, then briskly beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth and shiny.
4. Using two spoons, scoop up a mound of dough with one spoon roughly the size of an unshelled walnut, and scrape it off with the other spoon onto the baking sheet. Or you could shape the mounds of dough using a pastry bag or spring-loaded ice-cream scoop.
5. Place the mounds evenly-spaced apart on the baking sheet. Brush the top of each mound with some of the egg glaze then press coarse sugar over the top and sides of each mound (and chocolate chip is you use them). Use a lot. Once the puffs expand rise, you’ll appreciate the extra effort (and sugar.)
6. Bake the choux paste for 25-30 minutes (depends on the size of your chouquette), or until puffed and well-browned.
7. To make them crispier, poke a hole in the side with a knife after you take them out of the oven to let the steam escape.