I have a few ideas popping up for cute Choux pastry because there's just so much potential for it to be creative with! Due to the lack of time, I won't be able to do too many or often. But I am really excited about this creative avenue because finally my excess egg yolks have somewhere to go! Working with macarons, Swiss meringue buttercream and chiffon cakes mean that I am almost always left with excess egg yolks. I am currently using recipes that use whole eggs for Choux pastry but I may try those that use only yolks in the future.
Recipe for Choux pastry is adapted from here.
Ingredients (Makes about 12 hedgehogs):
40g unsalted butter
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
30g bread flour
30g plain flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten (you may not use all of it)
1.5 tsp cocoa powder
1. Preheat oven to 180℃ and set oven rack to middle. Sift bread flour and plain flour into a bowl.
2. Place butter, water, milk, salt and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring. Pour into flour and mix until well combined.
3. Pour mixture back into saucepan and cook for another 2-3 minutes to let more moisture escape from the dough. Divide the dough into 1:3 for plain : brown dough
4. Colour the brown dough by adding sifted cocoa powder. Mix well. Leave the dough to cool for 10 minutes.
5. Gradually add beaten egg into the plain and brown dough. Mix well with spatula with each addition. You may use an electric mixer with dough hook to incorporate the eggs in if you wish. When the batter is able to fall off the spatula slowly and leave a streak that doesn't collapse on itself in the batter, stop adding more egg.
6. Transfer most of the batter into piping bag with a hole of about 0.5-1cm cut. Transfer a small portion of each colour of batter into another piping bag with a small hole (3mm) cut.
7. Pipe a large round dollop with brown batter and triangular shape with plain batter. Both using piping bag with a bigger hole. Use a toothpick to nudge the batter at the boundary to create a wavy "fringe". Pipe the ears and spikes using piping bags with small hole cut. Use a finger wet with water to nudge the batter where it gets out of shape, especially the snout.
Piped hedgehogs and a corgi!
8. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 160℃ and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Underbaking will cause the pastry to collapse when cooled. I used a lower temperature than regular Choux pastries as I didn't want the small parts to burn. You could bake at 180-200℃ all the way until golden brown instead if it's just piped rounds (profiteroles/cream puffs) or logs (eclairs)
8. Pierce the Choux pastry once out of the oven to release any steam inside. Cool completely on cooling rack before decorating and filling.
Melt some dark chocolate with a bit of vegetable shortening to make the chocolate for decorating the pastry. If you are just coating the pastry, prepare dark chocolate ganache instead. Pipe or paint on the eyes and nose of the hedgehogs.
If you want an awesome tasting traditional pastry filling, go for half filled with pastry cream (custard) and half with whipped cream. I didn't have time to prepare the pastry cream so I only filled them with lightly sweetened whipped cream. But if you would like an awesome pastry cream recipe, you may refer to this post. I included the recipe for apple pie filling that goes extremely well with the pastry cream too. If you have your own preferred Choux pastry filling, go ahead and fill it with whatever your palate desires... Durian puree, chocolate cream, Matcha and Azuki bean cream, strawberries and cream etc, etc
200ml whipping cream/ heavy cream (35% fat)
2 tbs (about 13g) icing sugar
1 tsp gelatin powder
1 tbs water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
1. Place whipping cream and icing sugar in mixing bowl. Chill in fridge.
2. Scatter gelatin over water in a microwave safe bowl. Let the gelatin sit in water for a few minutes. Use the microwave to heat at medium power for 10 sec. Stir to dissolve the gelatin.
3. Add a tbs of cream and vanilla extract to the gelatin. Stir to mix well. Let it cool to room temperature.
4. Use an electric mixer to beat the cream with sugar at low speed until it starts to thicken. Increase the speed a little and when soft peaks form, start adding the gelatin mixture gradually while whisking the cream by hand to incorporate. Continue beating the cream at low speed until firm peaks form. Be careful not to overbeat or it will separate.
Freshly whipped cream
5. Slice off the top of the Choux pastry case. Fill a piping bag fitted with the whipped cream and fill the pastry case with the whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least two hours before consuming. If you want to, you may freeze it (do not freeze pastry cream filled choux pastries)
Choux pastries are best consumed freshly made. They are still good the next day. If you are particular about having them crisp, fill them only when you are about to consume. Baked unfilled pastries can be kept in airtight containers and toasted to make them crisp again. Unfortunately those decorated with compound chocolate cannot be toasted again or the chocolate will burn.