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Light, airy puffs covered with pearl sugar (coarse sugar that doesn’t melt), chouquettes are less well known than profiteroles and éclairs, their choux-pastry cousins. Chouquette is derived from chou (cabbage), and the French use the endearing expression mon petit chou for their loved ones. “My little cabbage” doesn’t have quite the same ring in English, though, does it? Make sure you have all your ingredients measured and ready to hand.
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup milk
- 7 tbsp butter, cubed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1⅓ cups bread flour*
- 4 eggs
- confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- ½ cup pearl sugar (also called nibbed or hail sugar)**
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Pour the water and milk into a pan and add the butter, salt, and sugar. Place the pan on a high heat and melt the butter. Turn the heat down to low and add all of the flour. Beat hard. At this point the mixture will have the consistency of lumpy mashed potatoes. Continue beating until you have a smooth ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan without sticking.
- Take the pan off the heat and continue to beat until the dough is cold enough to touch. Mix in the eggs one at a time—the batter will go lumpy when you add them, but beating continuously will smooth it out. Once all the eggs are incorporated and the mixture is smooth, put the dough into a piping bag fitted with a ¼-inch nozzle.
- Line several baking sheets with parchment paper, dotting a little dough in each corner to stick the paper down.
- To pipe the chouquettes, hold the nozzle at a 90-degree angle about ¼ inch from the pan. Keep the nozzle upright and pipe a walnut-sized ball of dough, then quickly flick the nozzle sideways to stop the dough trailing. Repeat to make 20–30 chouquettes, with a ¾-inch gap between. If they come out too pointy, dip your finger in some water and gently pat the points down; otherwise they will burn in the oven.
- Dust the chouquettes with confectioners’ sugar and then leave for a minute before sprinkling with the pearl sugar. Repeat with a second layer of confectioners’ sugar before baking for 20 minutes or until golden and crisp.
- Chouquettes are best eaten straightaway, but they can be kept in an airtight container for several days. To crisp up, bake at 300°F for 5 minutes.
* For chocolate choux pastry, replace 3 tablespoons flour with ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder.
** Instead of pearl sugar, try finely chopped nuts mixed with a little raw cane sugar, or chocolate chips.