Chocolate & chili puffs, pate a choux

I was responsible for last weeks postre del dia (pastry of the day) at Mexican Pop-Up.

Normally the BA Pie Lady supplies the sweets on Thursday nights, but this particular week I was on my own.

Which at first I wasn’t too thrilled about but then got REALLY INTO after my second or third coffee….

I’ll admit that I don’t have many pastry skills under my sleeves, other than my moms lemon squares and my rockin’ pecan pies over at NOLA.  Good thing I brought my moleskins full of French classics from culinary school that have come to my rescue countless times in the kitchen.

One of the recipes that I experiment with the most, pate a choux.  Pate a choux is SO MUCH FUN.  It’s pretty much a dough that is cooked twice (on the stove and in the oven) that poofs up and can be done savory or sweet.  For example-  mix in grated cheese and fresh herbs and you have French gougeres or stuff them with ice cream-pastry cream-ganache and you have French profiteroles.  Profiteroles was what I was going for.

Strawberries are starting to appear in the local verdulerías and I had a bittersweet chocolate bar stashed in the kitchen along with some ground chipotle chilis.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting into at first but it all came together and the result was pretty sweet.  Literally!

I mean, if French master chef Jacques Torres can mix chocolate with chili powder, I can too, si?!!

Jot this pate a choux recipe and get ready to impress your friends.  I still don’t know what I did wrong but my first two batches of puffs (pate a choux) came out flat and depressing.  The third attempt was a success and the amount of enthusiasm amongst the staff and myself was monumental.   So monumental that after snapping a quick photo I excitedly threw half of the ingredients on the floor and sadly announced there was no pastry for the evening.  QUE TRISTE!!

Pate a Choux ::

  • 110 grams butter, cut into small pieces
  • 140 grams AP flour
  • 1 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 4-5 eggs
  • splash of cream mixed with water

When working with pate a choux ALWAYS prepare the necessities before you start cooking.  Meaning-  all ingredients measured out, your oven must be HOT (like 400°F hot), baking sheet should either be lined with parchment paper or properly greased, pastry bag with tip ready to go!   Oven temperature is super important with this recipe.  If it’s not hot enough they wont puff and you’ll have to start over.

In a saucepan combine water, butter, salt & sugar.  Heat til butter is well melted.

Remove pan from heat and add all flour at once.  Using a wooden spoon stir and place back over flame.  Cook for about 30 seconds til the bottom of the pan is shimmering.  Remove from heat and transfer to large bowl.

Individually add eggs and mix VERY WELL in between each egg.  The trickiest part about this recipe is knowing when to stop adding eggs.  You want to be able to lift the dough with your wooden spoon and it slightly hangs off like a hook.  Make sense?  Or you can run your finger through the dough at the bottom of the bowl and make a canal.  The dough should slowly fall in.

*If making savory gougeres now is the time to add cheese & herbs.

Now you’re ready to pipe.  Transfer dough to pastry bag and pipe out on baking sheet.  Lightly brush with cream wash and bake.

Once they’re in DON’T OPEN THE OVEN DOOR for at least 12-15 minutes.  

Cook til golden and super puffed.  Transfer to wire rack and allow to cool.

Filling & Chocolate CHILI Sauce ::

  • 1 lb strawberries, cleaned and diced + 1/2 cup sugar
  • 125 mL milk
  • 150g bittersweet chocolate
  • 60 mL heavy cream
  • 15g butter
  • 65g sugar
  • 1 TBS morita chipotle powder

The sauce is your standard sauce au chocolat (minus the chipotle) that can be used for countless recipes.  Jot it down next to your French dough recipes.

Bring milk to a boil and pour over chocolate in working bowl.  Stir gently until the chocolate has melted.  Bring cream, butter & sugar to a boil in the same pan you used fo the milk.  Pour in melted chocolate and return to a boil.

Add chili powder and mix well.

Remove from heat and keep warm.

To prepare your puffs carefully cut off the top and stuff the insides with your diced strawberries.  Dip the top in chocolate CHILI sauce and return it to it’s proper stuffed owner.  Serve immediately.

* Don’t forget you can really mix it up with this recipe of pate a choux.  Stuff them with whipped cream, pastry cream, lemon curd, ice cream, etc.  Or make them savory and use the dough for mini chicken club sandwiches, stuff them with mousse de salmon or other funky creations.  ENJOY.