Fun with Pate a Choux


I think pate a choux (choux paste) may just be the best pastry recipe of all time. The possibilities are endless! Pipe it in all different shapes and sizes, fill it with anything your heart desires, glaze it or leave it plain. I have been wanting to make cream puffs and/or eclairs for quite some time and today I finally made it happen.
I just bought a bunch of blueberries, so I made lemon pasty cream to go into eclairs with those. I also really wanted to make some that incorporated chocolate somehow, so I made some cream puffs with espresso pastry cream inside and chocolate ganache on top.

Pate a Choux 
(from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard)
1 cup bread flour
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole milk
6 tbsp butter
4-5 large eggs
1 egg plus 1 yolk
Sift together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Set aside.
Bring the water, milk, and butter to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Once it boils, remove the pan from the heat and add the flour mixture all at once.  Using a wooden spoon, stir vigorously to combine.
Return the mixture to medium heat and stir constantly in figure eights.  Cook for at least 4 minutes, or until the mixture has a smooth, mashed-potato-like appearance.  This helps to break down the starch and develop the gluten.  Remove from heat.
Transfer the hot mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or use a hand mixer.  Mix on low for 1 to 2 minutes. Add 4 eggs, one at a time.  Be sure to let the batter absorb each egg and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula before adding the next.  Before adding the last egg, test for consistency.  Pinch off about 1 tsp of the dough with your thumb and index finger, then pull your fingers apart.  The dough should stretch rather than break.  If it breaks, add the last egg.  Mix on low speed until thoroughly incorporated, about 2 minutes.  Do the finger test for consistency again.  The dough should be shiny and smooth.
For cream puffs: Fit a large plain tip into a large piping bag.  Make a big cuff at the top of the bag and fill the bag halfway with choux paste.  Uncuff and twist the top of the bag to push the contents toward the tip.  Pipe mounds 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 1 inch high.  
For eclairs:  Fit a large star tip into a piping bag and pipe into 4 inch strips
Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Adjust the rack to the center of the oven and place a heatproof baking dish or pan on the floor of the oven.
Line a baking sheet with a Silpat.
Make the egg wash by whisking the egg and yolk in a small bowl.  Brush lightly but evenly over the piped dough.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and pour hot water into the baking dish on the oven floor.  Quickly close the door to keep all the steam in the oven.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until the puffs begin to rise, then turn the heat down to 350 F and rotate the baking sheet.  Prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon and bake for about 15 more minutes, until the pastries turn nutty brown.  
Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack, about 15 minutes, before filling and serving.
LEMON-BLUEBERRY ECLAIRS (makes about 12)
Begin with half a recipe of Choux Paste, above
You will also need about half a cup of fresh blueberries, and the lemon pastry cream and white chocolate ganache, below.
Lemon pastry cream
(adapted from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard)
1/4 cup sugar, divided
3 tbsp all purpose flour
pinch salt
1 egg
1 cup whole milk
zest of one lemon
1/2 tbsp butter
Put half the sugar, the zest, and the milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
Whisk the egg in a medium bowl.
Sift the remaining sugar, flour, and salt onto a piece of wax paper.
Whisk the dry ingredients into the egg and mix well.
When the milk mixture simmers, pour about half of it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then transfer back into the milk.
Whisking constantly, cook until the mixture boils and t
hickens to the consistency of pudding.
Pour into a bowl through a strainer, then stir in the butter.
Press plastic wrap onto the surface and chill until cool.
White chocolate ganache
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 tbsp half and half
Melt the chocolate and half and half together in the top of a double boiler and stir until smooth.
To assemble, cut the eclairs in half.  
Place a few blueberries in the bottom half, then pipe lemon pastry cream on top of them.

Place the glazed top onto the pastry cream and spread the tops with ganache.
Serve or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
MOCHA CREAM PUFFS
Begin with half a recipe of Choux Paste, above.
You will also need Espresso Pastry Cream and Chocolate Ganache
Espresso Pastry Cream
(adapted from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard)
1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 cup whole milk
1 tbsp instant espresso
1 egg
3 tbsp flour
pinch salt
1/2 tbsp butter
Put half the sugar, the instant espresso, and the milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
Whisk the egg in a medium bowl.
Sift the remaining sugar, flour, and salt onto a piece of wax paper.
Whisk the dry ingredients into the egg and mix well.
When the milk mixture simmers, pour about half of it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then transfer back into the milk.
Whisking constantly, cook until the mixture boils and thickens to the consistency of pudding.
Pour into a bowl through a strainer, then stir in the butter.
Press plastic wrap onto the surface and chill until cool.
Chocolate ganache
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp half-and-half
Melt chocolate chips and half and half together in the top of a double boiler.  Stir until smooth
To assemble, cut each cream puff in half horizontally.
Dip the top half into ganache and set aside until chocolate sets.
Pipe the chilled pastry cream into the bottom, and place the top half on it.
Serve, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

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