Browsing Tag

pâte à choux

Profiteroles & Eclairs: The many delights of pâte à choux, part 3

Ingredients

for the dough
1 c. water
1 stick of unsalted butter (4 oz)
pinch of salt
1 T. sugar
1 c. bread flour (AP flour works also)
4 eggs

for the chocolate glaze
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 stick of unsalted butter (4 oz. at room temp.)

for the whipped cream
1 c. heavy cream (cold)
2 T. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make the glaze: melt chocolate and butter in the microwave or over a double boiler to melt. Let cool at room temperature until you are ready to glaze.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. In a medium saucepan bring water, butter, and salt to a boil over medium heat.
  5. Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until dough comes away from the sides of the pan, about 30 seconds.
  6. Take the pan off of heat and add eggs one at a time, stirring until each egg is completely incorporated into the dough before adding the next one. This is when you will notice the dough will appear to “break”. Just keep stirring and before you know it, all will be well again and you will be ready to add the next egg.
  7. Use a spatula to transfer the dough to a piping bag and let rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
  8. Once the dough is rested, snip off the tip of your pastry bag (You are looking for about a ½” tip or opening).
  9. Ok, let’s have a quick pep talk: Next is piping the dough onto the parchment parchment paper (or silpat) lined baking sheet. It’s just one of those things that you have to believe you can do (with gusto!) before you do it for the first time (kind of like much of life, huh?). It’s actually very straightforward (wow, no pun intended I swear!). Sure, the finished product looks like you’ve just been to a Parisian pastry shop, but there is no doubt in my mind that with a small amount of practice, these will soon be a snap for you to make.
  10. For Eclairs, you are looking to pipe a straight line of dough (about 5″x 1″). Take a minute to visualize how many rows you want to make. A typical baking sheet will usually be big enough to make 3 rows of 4 (12). Take a few deep breaths and rest the tip of your piping bag on the sheet tray where you want to start. Piping from the back of the bag and your palm, squeeze the dough out relatively slowly and as you see a 1″ thickness form, keep piping and pull your hand back until you’ve reached around 5″ long. The key is to not be afraid of the moving dough and piping bag. You are in control of the dough, the speed and the movement!
  11.  For profiteroles, you are looking to pipe tablespoon size rounds (think 1”x 1”) onto the sheet tray about 2 inches apart.  Check out the photo’s in the gourgeres post to get an idea for size.
  12. For both the eclairs and profiteroles, there comes a time when you want to end the piping and move on to the next one. There is a little bit of technique to do it and I have a few tips for this:
    1. keep your pastry bag still when piping out the dough and keep the tip almost touching the sheet tray for each one.
    2. to make a clean break between the pastry bag and your piped eclair or profiterole, instead of pulling up, make a quick and confident swipe to the side. This will leave a little mountain looking peak.
    3. After you’ve piped the entire tray, dip your finger in a little water and gently pat down the peak of each one.
  13. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until they are a deep golden brown and nicely puffed up. Remove from the oven, and make a tiny slit in the side with the tip of a sharp knife to allow the steam to escape. This is how they will stay crispy. Let cool completely.
  14. Make the whipped cream and use a spatula to transfer to a piping bag.
  15. Wait to fill the eclairs until you are ready to serve them. The last thing you want is a soggy eclair. The same is true for cannolis (I wish I could scream that from a mountain top but that’s for a different time). Oh, it should also be said that classically eclairs are filled with pastry cream, I just love the light texture of fresh whipped cream with the pastry and glaze. Snip the tip (1/4″) and fill the pastry in the side where you slit the side for the steam to escape.
  16. Once the eclairs are filled, dip the top half into the glaze which by now should be nice and cool. Place chocolate side up on a baking sheet and you are ready to serve.

**If you want to really dig into the depths of eclair making, I would highly recommend checking out Ironwhisks’ tutorial on the subject. Talk about a labor of eclair love!

Component in Action

  • fill with pastry cream, whipped cream or combinations of both.
  • incorporate various flavors/fruits into the filling (raspberries, strawberries, chocolate, spices)
  • play around with the glaze incorporating liquor or spices like cinnamon.
  • you could get wild and top the glaze with something crunch like candied nuts.

Parisian Gnocchi: The many delights of pâte à choux, part 2

Welcome to the world of gnocchi perfection. I’m talking about floating ethereal clouds, dreamy pillows bursting with flavor and texture. These gnocchi take on a variety of preparations like a pro, and if that wasn’t enough, are a snap to make. And did I mention these little darlings also have a French accent? What’s not to love?

These French dumplings are called Parisian Gnocchi. I typed the word “Parisian” into the title of this post many times and then repeatedly deleted it, in fear it would scare some people off. Then I finally added it back in because I couldn’t give in to such devices. The word Parisian sounds elegant and let’s face it, kind of fancy. The closer we get to the roots of a recipe, the more exotic it sounds and sometimes that can be off-putting when we have, oh you know, just a little thing called LIFE going on. Some people might be reading this and thinking, “Big deal. I’m not scared of a little gnocchi! ” But I also think that we have been bombarded by LOTS of advertising whispering to us over and over that cooking from scratch is too hard for our busy schedules. So to that I say Hogwash, and here’s a perfect example to prove it.

In France gnocchi is made with pâte à choux dough while In Italy it is usually made with potatoes. Both versions are great but I tend to lean towards the French version more often because the gnocchi are not only perfectly light and airy, but they are also easy and super fun to make.

There are many ways to serve Parisian gnocchi. One of my favorite preparations is to crisp them up in a pan with a little brown butter, throw some arugula in at the last minute, spoon into bowls and grate some fresh parmesan over the top. You could also transfer the cooked gnocchi to a baking dish and sprinkle cheese over the top and bake until golden brown, or you can simply toss them in your favorite sauce and call it a day. 


Ingredients

1 c. water
1 stick of unsalted butter (4 oz)
1 c. AP flour
4 eggs
pinch of salt
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Method

  1. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper drizzled with a bit of olive oil.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a medium boil (just like you are cooking pasta)
  3. In a medium saucepan bring water, butter, and salt to a boil over medium heat.
  4. Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until dough comes away from the sides of the pan, about 30 seconds.
  5. Take the pan off of heat and add eggs one at a time, stirring until each egg is completely incorporated into the dough before adding the next one. This is when you will notice the dough will appear to “break”. Just keep stirring and before you know it, all will be well again and you will be ready to add the next egg.
  6. Stir in cheese.
  7. Use a spatula to transfer the dough to a piping bag and let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. (you can even use a freezer bag or even just use a spoon for larger, more rustic gnocchi)
  8. Once the dough is rested and the water is boiling, snip off the tip of your pastry bag (You are looking for about a ½” tip or opening) and squeeze gnocchi into the water using a clean pair of kitchen sheers or a sharp knife. If there are two of you in the kitchen it is super nice to have one person squeeze and one person snip. Don’t feel pressure to go fast right away. Squeeze and cut for about a minute and then let those gnocchi cook. Find gnocchi sticking to your sheers or knife? dip them in the pot of water to keep things cutting smoothly.
  9. When they float to the top, let them cook about a minute longer and then skim them out of the water with a perforated skimming ladle or spider. Spoon the cooked gnocchi onto your sheet pan and repeat this process with the remaining dough.
  10. At this point you can freeze the gnocchi on the sheet pan and then transfer to a plastic freezer bag for later use, or you can continue to serve now.

Component in Action

  • you can incorporate a variety of different flavors into the dough itself before putting into the piping bag. Think fresh herbs, spices, a spoon of dijon mustard, a variety of semi hard or hard cheeses, etc.
  • If it’s the middle of summer and you know you want to serve the gnocchi with a fresh tomato sauce, add some freshly chopped basil to the dough.
  • serve with a creamy alfredo sauce for a decadent treat
  • serve along side seared scallops
  • in the fall try with brown butter, sage and butternut squash