Monday, December 15, 2008

Sweet Little Jewels: Chouquettes

I can't believe I waited that long to share with you all the recipe for Chouquettes - such a flashback to my childhood, and I'm sure for many French people as well. 

Chouquettes are basically like little cream puffs, but without the cream. They are decorated with little sugar pearls on top that make them look like beautiful little jewels. The dough that is used to make them is called a "choux dough" or pate a choux. It's also that same dough that is used to make eclairs, profiteroles, gougeres (on my list of French Fork recipes), choux a la creme...

Un chou in French is a cabbage, and you can see, by looking at them, that they resemble the shape of brussel sprouts. Chou in French also has another meaning since it's a term of endearment for lovers or from a parent to a child; we say "mon chou" or "mon chouchou" or "mon petit chou". Yes it does mean "my little cabbage" but it's the equivalent as saying "my sweetie pie" or "sugar" in English.

Chouquettes are sold in boulangeries all over France. They usually sell them in white paper or cellophane bags. I can't tell you how many times my grandma Meme would surprise me with a bag if these as a treat when she would come to our home. I was over the moon when she would hand me a bag. She would always tell me "tu aimes bien ca les Chouquettes, hein?", or " you do like Chouquettes, don't you?". 

Oh boy do I like them?! I love them!  The only thing that I was missing after making a few batches yesterday, was the coarse pearl sugar we typically decorate them with. It really gives it a lot of elegance and instantly turns them into little gems. But it also adds a little crunch that regular sugar cannot really replace. Oh well. I used powdered sugar instead, to add color and another layer of sweetness and it was absolutely perfect! The taste was exactly how I remembered it: sweet and sublime; The texture soft and moist. Most certainly a crowd-pleasing one bite dessert you will want to have on your Holiday table or make as a giveaway. Believe me, in France children devour them in minutes.

I was tempted to add chocolate before I baked them but I believe that we lack simplicity in our kitchens today. They are yummy jut as they are - there's nothing to add to them. I hope you enjoy them!

Chouquettes (makes about 25)

1 cup cold water

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp sugar   

1/4 tsp vanilla

7 tbsp butter

1 cup 1/4 flour

4 eggs at room temperature

Glaze: 1 beaten egg yolk 

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees. Prepare a parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet. Make sure the flour is measured and ready to be used. 

In a saucepan, combine the water, the salt, the sugar, the vanilla and the butter. Let the butter melt and the water come to a boil on medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the butter is completely melted, remove the saucepan from the heat and, at once, add the flour. Quickly stir it in with a wooden spoon, until the consistency is smooth. The dough must be detaching itself from the saucepan. Allow the dough to cool for 3 minutes. 

Add the eggs, one at a time. You must incorporate each egg very well into the dough before you move on to the next one. Use a wooden spoon to do that.

With 2 teaspoons sprayed with cooking spray, make balls of dough the size of a big walnut and put them on the parchment paper. Allow some space between the chouquettes as they will expand once they bake. Brush them each with some glaze and sprinkle with some extra sugar. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden. When baked, allow the chouquettes to cool on a cake rack. When they're cool, sprinkle them with powdered sugar. 

Enjoy warm or cool. The chouquettes will be better if eaten the same day.


Kimmy said...

We adore these from a local french bakery. I am dying to try these myself. Thank you for the recipe!

Laetitia said...

Hey Kimmy! I wish I could find them here in Austin. But they're pretty easy to make and SO good!!

thehungryengineer (april) said...

These were delicious, by the way. Thanks again for sharing them!!

Mary said...

Laetitia, these look so good! You have a beautiful blog. I'll be back often.

Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener said...

ah! Les grands esprits se rencontrent.

Le coq au vin est en effet un plat de fete delicieux. It's on the menu at my house too!


heidileon said...

Bonjour Laetitia!

I've never tried "chouquettes" but now I'm intrigued..hope to find the time to make this..

by the way,I always have found so funny this french thing of calling your love one food names: mon chou, mon petit canard..the list is endless! is just so funny.

My bf is french so yes, I call him mon chou or mon calisson (he's from Aix) and he calls me ma caille or mon crouton (bcs of my skin tone!)

anyway, just found your blog and love it. I'll be tweeting you soon..