Be generous with the caramel topping for these chocolate cream-filled choux from Michel Roux Pastry. Serve them as tiny after-dinner treats for holiday guests or box them up to give as hostess gifts.
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water 8 tbsp butter, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp superfine sugar
Generous 1 cup all-purpose flour
4 medium eggs
Eggwash (1 medium egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp milk)
Chocolate Crème Pâtissière
6 medium egg yolks
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp superfine sugar
Generous 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 oz melted semisweet chocolate.
A little confectioners' sugar or butter
2 cups whipping cream, well chilled
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar or sugar syrup
Pinch of powdered vanilla, or the seeds scraped from a vanilla bean
1 quantity freshly made choux paste (see above), still warm
1-1/2 cups superfine sugar
24 candied violets
1 lb. 2 oz. chocolate crème pâtissière (see above)
Scant 1 cup chantilly cream (see above)
Caramel (instructions below)
Step 1: Combine the milk, water, butter, salt, and sugar in a pan and set over low heat. Bring to a boil and immediately take the pan off the heat. Shower in the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.
Step 2: Return the pan to medium heat and stir continuously for about 1 minute to dry out the paste, then tip it into a bowl.
Step 3: Add the eggs one at a time, beating with the wooden spoon.
Step 4: Once the eggs are all incorporated, the paste should be smooth and shiny with a thick ribbon consistency. It is now ready to use. (If you're not using it immediately, brush the surface lightly with a little beaten egg to prevent a crust forming.) You can easily adapt this recipe by adding a little cayenne or paprika.
Makes 40-50 little choux buns (Baking instructions below under Chocolate Salammbos).
Chocolate Crème Pâtissière
Step 1: Whisk the egg yolks and 1/3 of the sugar together in a bowl to a light ribbon consistency. Whisk in the flour thoroughly.
Step 2: In a pan, heat the milk with the rest of the sugar and the vanilla bean. As soon as it comes to a boil, pour it onto the egg yolk mixture, stirring as you go. Mix well, then return the mixture to the pan.
Step 3: Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously with the whisk. Let bubble for 2 minutes, then pour into a bowl. Add melted semisweet chocolate and stir into mixture.
Step 4: Dust the crème pâtissière with a veil of confectioners' sugar to prevent a skin forming as it cools, or dot small flakes of butter all over the surface. Once cold, it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Remove the vanilla bean before using.
Makes about 1 lb. 10 oz. (750 g)
Step 1: Put the chilled cream, confectioners' sugar or syrup, and vanilla into the chilled bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed for 1-2 minutes.
Step 2: Increase the speed and beat for another 3-4 minutes until the cream starts to thicken to a light ribbon consistency; don't overbeat it. Chantilly cream is best used as soon as you have made it, but it will keep in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Makes about 1-1/3 lb. (600 g)
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Put the choux paste into a pastry bag fitted with a 5/8" plain tip and pipe 24 roughly pear-shaped choux, 1-1/2" wide at the start and extending to 2-1/2" long, in staggered rows.
Step 2: Bake the salammbos for 25 minutes until crisp and dry on the outside and base, but still soft inside. Transfer to a wire rack and leave until cold. Carefully cut a small hole in the bases with a knife tip.
Step 3: For the caramel, put 1/4 cup water and the sugar into a heavy pan and slowly bring to a boil, skimming the surface as it begins to bubble. Dip a very clean pastry brush into cold water and brush down the inside of the pan near the boiling sugar to prevent it crystallizing. When the temperature reaches 325ºF and the sugar has almost caramelized, lower the heat and cook to a pale amber caramel. Immediately plunge the bottom of the pan into cold water for 10 seconds to stop further cooking. One at a time, dip the top of the salammbos into the caramel to coat thickly, then invert onto a baking sheet. Immediately place a candied violet on top of each one before the caramel sets.
Step 4: To fill the salammbos, mix the chocolate crème pâtissière into the chantilly cream lightly with a whisk, without overworking. Put it into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" plain tip and pipe it into the salammbos through the holes in the base. Serve 3 salammbos per person on individual plates, or arrange on a platter for everyone to help themselves.
Reprinted with permission from Michel Roux's Michel Roux Pastry (2008 Whitecap Books).