by Caitlin Saniga
Pate a choux:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in pieces
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large whole eggs
- 1 large egg white
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
- 4 ounces dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- nonpareils or sprinkles
To make the pate a choux:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set them aside. Combine the butter, salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan, and place over medium heat. Cook until the butter is melted and the water just comes to a boil.
Remove from the heat, add flour, and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon. Return the pan to heat; cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes together and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan as you stir, about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and let cool for 5 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating vigorously until they are completely incorporate and the pastry is smooth. (It might be best to break the third egg into a dish, split the yolk with a knife, and add it in spoonfuls to the mixture. You might not need to use all of the final egg to achieve the correct consistency.)
Transfer the pastry to a pastry bag fitted with a small coupler (or a zip-top bag with the corner cut off to form a small hole). Pipe about 1 tablespoon of the pastry into a mound on one of the prepared baking sheets. Continue piping until all the pastry is used, spacing pastry about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Combine the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush the top of each mound with the egg wash. Smooth any rough spot on the top with a water-dampened finger. Bake until the puffs are golden brown all over, about 30 minutes. (Start checking at 20 minutes.) Remove from the oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Slice the pastry puffs crosswise, and set aside.
To make the whipped cream:
In the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a whisk, combine the whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla, and spices, and beat on high until peaks form.
Prepare a parchment piping bag or a plastic zip-top bag, and fit it with a #12 piping tip. Carefully drag a tablespoon of molasses along two sides of the bag, creating thick stripes. Transfer the whipped cream to the bag, and pipe about a tablespoon of whipped cream into each pastry puff. The stripes of molasses should create a swirl of light color when piped.
To make the toppings:
Coarsely chop the chocolate, and place it in the bowl of a double-boiler. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the bowl as well. Pour enough water in the pot underneath so the top of the water is about a 1/2 inch from the bowl, and place over low heat. Use a wire whisk to stir the chocolate and butter constantly until they are melted. The water should not come to a boil while the chocolate is melting.
Use the whisk to drizzle the chocolate over the cream puffs. Quickly follow up with a sprinkling of nonpareils, which will stick to the chocolate.
Place the cream puffs in the refrigerator until the chocolate has set, about 30 minutes.
Pate a choux recipe adapted from: The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook — The Original Classics