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Choux à la Crème


Cream puffs

Choux Pastry made with 4 eggs
Crème Pâtissière
2 cups confectioners (icing) sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 shots espresso doppio ristretto
2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
1 egg

Crème Pâtissière The crème pâtissière should be flavoured half with coffee, half chocolate. A vanilla bean can be split, cutting lengthwise, boiled with the milk, and scraped to add the tiny seeds to the milk. Make the crème slightly stiff. Remove half to a bowl and mix in one double-shot espresso coffee. Mix 1 tbsp cocoa powder with enough milk to make a stiff cream; mix this into the remaining half and stir over a gentle heat for a half a minute to cook the cocoa. Cointreau (or other liqueur) can be added, as desired, once the crème is cooled.

Preheat the oven to 425 °F (220 °C). With a spoon or piping bag, make 30-40 small balls of choux paste on a buttered baking sheet, leaving space for them to double in size. (A silicon liner, if you have one, will remove all danger of adhesion). Paint the top of each with beaten egg, loosened with a little water. Bake for about 20 minute until they are golden-brown and crusty to touch. Remove them from the oven; pierce the side of each to let any moisture escape. Return them to the turned-off oven for ten minutes or so, leaving the door ajar. Cool on a rack.

You can make fewer, larger puffs. In this case, reduce the oven temperature to 325 °F (160 °C) after the first 20 minutes, and let them cook for another 10-15 minutes. When you pierce the side of each puff remove any damp dough from the centre before returning them to the turned-off oven. A réligieuse is a small puff atop a larger puff. The edifice decorated with a thin chocolate or coffee frosting (icing), and a few roses of whipped cream at the junction, which serve to provide some structural integrity.

Fill the puffs with flavoured crème pâtissière (or if you're feeling self-indulgent just use flavoured whipped cream), using a piping bag with a small nozzle to force the filling into the holes you made earlier. Make chocolate and coffee frosting with the sugar, the remaining coffee and cocoa, and a little cold water as required. Use this to coat the top of each éclair.

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