There’s a lot of emphasis these days put on “easy” cooking. And sure, it’s important to have a good stock of simple recipes you can knock up in no time. But sometimes, it’s good to take on a challenge. Choux pastry takes a bit of concentration, but it’s not the hardest thing on he world and once you’ve learnt how to do it, it’s an excellent string to a cook’s bow.
95g/3 3/4oz plain (all-purpose) flour, seived with a pinch of salt
3 medium eggs, beaten with a fork.
300mls/10fl.oz double or whipping cream
175g/6oz plain chocolate
125g/4oz caster (superfine) sugar
With most recipes you can mess around a bit, fudge the amounts, cut stuff out if you feel like it. But please, don’t do that here. Measure carefully, that’s the secret to choux pastry. I made this in a cookery class and the teacher was standing over me, making sure I measured exactly, and it’s good that she did because it came out well. Follow the recipe carefully, it’s tried and tested and will work, I promise.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6
First, put the water and butter for the pastry in a saucepan and bring them slowly to the boil, making sure that that the butter melts before the water boils. Grab a whisk, have it handy, then pour in the flour all at once, immediately whisking firmly and quickly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan. It’ll be a bit like wallpaper paste, smooth and glossy.
Take the pan off the heat and add the beaten eggs a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon all the time. Don’t panic if it goes a bit sloppy, just keep stirring. Once all the eggs have been added, it should have the same texture as it did before you added the eggs but will now be glossy. Glossy wallpaper paste. Lovely.
Grease a baking tray and using a spoon (or two) , put small balls of the dough about the size of a pingpong ball onto the tray.
Sprinkle water around the pastires and turn the oven up to 220F/425F/Gas 7. Bake the pastries for 30-40 minutes until well-risen and light brown.
While the pastries are in the oven, make the chocolate sauce:
Melt the chocolate with the water in a saucepan over a low heat. When it’s smooth, add the sugar. When the sugar has dissolved bring the solution to the boil and boil for 10-15 minutes until the sauce is rich and syrupy.
Lift the pastries off the baking tray and prick each one to release the steam. Allow them to go cold. Whisk the cream until it’s light and fluffy, make a slit in the bottom of each pastry and either spoon or pipe the cream in.
Pile the pastries into a pyramid and pour over the sauce. Await praise from your friends and family.