I have a love/hate relationship with choux. It’s never completely deserted me in my time of need or stabbed me in the back, but whenever I make choux, I just feel “meh” about it. Passive aggression maybe? Discontented love?
I have a thing about French pastry and sweet recipes – they’re always so funny. They use the best, most basic ingredients, which is fabulous because it means you never have to go shopping if you feel like making something spontaneously. But, they often take forever to rise, or rest, or just I don’t even know! Then, once you’ve made them, they taste phenomenal, but you have to eat it all immediately because they spoil so quickly! And if they don’t spoil quickly, their quality deteriorates within the first few hours of being made! It’s absurd! (at least, for my intensely pragmatic head).
- basic ingredients – excellent!
- the pastry is meant to rest overnight!! – not so good, especially when you don’t read ahead in the recipe…guilty.
- Then you spend a serious amount of time rolling out the pastry because it’s so full of butter that you almost burn all the calories you are about to eat just by rolling it out!
- Then you finally get to shape them, oh but wait, they need to rest again!
- Eventually, you can cook them. YAY! And they smell pretty good when they’re cooking. But the problem is that because they’re very technical, you never know whether or not they’ve worked until you cook them. So it’s very possible that you spend the best part of a day making these amazing things only to find that they don’t work. And by that point there is nothing you can do to salvage them! Except maybe put them in a bread and butter pudding. But that feels like such a waste of all your hard work!!
- And, assuming they do work, you now have to eat them immediately because they’re never as good the next day!! Which I’d normally be happy to do with anything I bake, except that you just saw how much butter you rolled into that pastry. That pastry that already has butter in it. Oh goodness. If you eat more than one there’s a serious possibility of a passing out from all that intensely tasty butter, right then and there!
And yet, I still make them. I still love them. So even though I think French recipes are crazy, maybe the French have it totally perfected, like a weird mind trick: it’s a lot of work and it could all fall apart at any minute, but you don’t mind because it’s so exquisitely good and beautiful that you can’t stop eating and making them!
So back to choux. It relies heavily on technical skill and once it’s made, you essentially have to eat it all, straight away because once you fill them crème pâtissière they start to go soggy – and no one likes soggy choux. And yet, I keep making it! I don’t know why…I think it’s mostly pride: I want to be able to make perfect choux!
So anyway, I do keep making it. And a few weeks ago my sister and I made some profiteroles and some eclairs. And they were amazing. They are so much fun to make and so satisfying because they’re so pretty!
The added bonus with choux is the decoration part! This was our mis en place! Anything that pretty makes it worthwhile making choux! Even if it doesn’t work perfectly!
And the flavours we used:
chocolate & hazelnut
strawberry & orange
rhubarb & strawberry
passionfruit & chocolate