Mesmerised by the beauty of choux au craquelin, I couldn’t help but baked more and more crunchy cream puffs recently. The recipes for craquelin and choux pastry hasn’t changed at all; and even my recipe for pastry cream was actually developed long ago, which I have been using for years. However, when these three components were combined in a slightly different manner, with the addition of fresh fruit, a new creation was born — the strawberry choux. How amazing was that!
It is no wonder that some people say everything new is made from something old. As Mark Twain put it wisely:
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of coloured glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
Therefore, in order to have endless ideas for pastry and desserts, always review the old, keep on turning and making new combinations.
There is an important trick when you use my choux pastry recipe, that is the eggs are added cold (about 5 – 6 degrees Celsius) to the steaming hot choux dough immediately. Yes, it’s IMMEDIATELY! Unlike most recipes that would ask you to cool the dough slightly to about 60C before adding the eggs, so as not to cook the eggs, I was taught to add COLD eggs immediately to the hot choux dough. It helps simplify and standardise the steps, especially in a production kitchen. At your home kitchen, if you find the choux dough is still a bit stiff after adding all the eggs, do add milk bit by bit until you get the right dough consistency.
~ Enjoy baking, my friends! ~
Watch this video to learn how to make strawberry choux:
Ingredients (yield: 9 puff-quartets)
Plain flour 80g
(B) Choux pastry
Plain flour 60g
Egg, chilled 120g
(C) Pastry cream
Milk (I) 220g
Whipping cream 200g
Salt 1/2 tsp
Corn starch 50g
Egg yolk 2 no.
Milk (II) 80g
Vanilla paste or any other flavouring 1 tsp
Fresh strawberry, sliced 250g
Icing sugar, for decoration
- To make the craquelin: Put butter, sugar and plain flour in a mixing bowl. Use your finger tips to rub the ingredients until they resemble bread crumbs. Start to combine them together to form a dough.
- Transfer the craquelin onto a parchment paper. Flatten the dough with your palm. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper to around 1 – 2 mm thick. Freeze the dough.
- To make the choux pastry: In a saucepan, put in water, milk, butter and salt. Bring it to a rolling boil on medium-high heat; and make sure all butter has melted. (Note: at this point, you may keep the eggs in the refrigerator to stay chilled, if your kitchen is very warm)
- Once the butter mixture is boiling, pour in all the plain flour. Mix quickly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to form a dough. Continue to cook and stir the dough until it forms into a ball that comes away from the sides of the pan.
- Turn off the heat. Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl.
- Immediately, start adding the chilled/ cold eggs in 2-3 additions. Ensure all the egg has been absorbed into the dough. If you scoop up some dough with your spatula and let it slide back into the bowl, it should leave a little “V” on the spatula.
- Start to preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius at this point.
- Transfer the choux dough to a piping bag, and pipe the dough (about 2.5cm round) on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Pipe 3 more very close to each other (please refer to the video above for choux dough piping).
- Take out the craquelin from freezer. Use a round cookie cutter of 2.5 – 3 cm diameter to cut the dough. Place craquelin on top of each choux dough. If the craquelin becomes soft, put them back into the freezer for a minute, for easier handling.
- Bake at 200 degree Celsius for 20 minutes (I use a non-convection oven). Then, reduce to 180 degree Celsius and continue to bake for 15 minutes. Let them cool down in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Transfer the choux puffs to a cooling rack and let them cool down completely.
- Meanwhile, to make the pastry cream: weigh 220g of milk and whipping cream in a saucepan. Bring them to a gentle simmer.
- At the same time, combine corn starch, sugar and salt to remove lumps in the corn starch. Add egg yolk and 80g milk to the starch mixture. Whisk to combine.
- Once the milk is simmering, slowly add it to the egg mixture while whisking.
- Return the entire mixture to the saucepan, and bring to a boil at low-to-medium heat. Continue to whisk until the cream thickens, taking care to reach all parts of the saucepan to avoid burning.
- Once the cream thickens and “burps”, whisk vigorously for one minute. Ensure the cream is smooth. Add vanilla paste.
- Pour pastry cream onto a tray and cover with cling film. Let it cool down completely before transferring to a piping bag.
- To assemble: Cut the choux puffs horizontally with a serrated knife. Pipe pastry cream generously on the base of the puffs. Arrange sliced strawberries on it. Then, pipe a ring of pastry cream on the strawberries. Finally, cover with the top half portion of the choux puffs.
- Decorate and dust with icing sugar. Serve immediately.