It is actually really easy to make choux pastry at home, and these chocolate dipped choux buns filled with a boozy Grand Marnier orange cream stack into an impressive showstopper dessert pyramid for New Years Eve.
- 150ml (5 fl oz) Whole Milk, plus extra for thinning
- 50g (1 1/2 oz) Unsalted Butter
- Pinch Sea Salt
- 80g (3 oz) Plain (All Purpose) Flour
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1 x 300ml (10 fl oz) Tub Whipping Cream
- Zest of 1 Large Clementine
- 1 tsp Icing Sugar (Powdered Sugar)
- 2 tsp Grand Marnier (or your favourite orange liquor)
- 100g (3 1/2 oz) Plain Chocolate
- 1 Sheet Edible Gold Leaf (optional, for decoration)
- Edible Gold Stars (optional, for decoration)
- Before you start making the choux, line two baking sheets with baking parchment and measure out the flour.
- Combine the milk, butter and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat, stirring until the salt and butter have dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour until everything is combined. Don’t worry if it looks like a mess.
- Turn the heat down to medium low, and return the pan to the heat. Vigorously stir the mixture for 3-4 minutes. You’ll know it is ready when the choux dough starts to break up and stick to the bottom of the pan. What you’re doing here is cooking the flour so you don’t get raw choux.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool until the mixture is no longer steaming. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (355 fahrenheit).
- Lightly beat the eggs in a small jug, and gradually pour the eggs into the dough, vigorously beating so the mixture is all combined as you go. Now, depending on how much of the liquid you cooked out in the first stage, you’ll probably need to add a little more milk, bit by bit, until your mixture has reached ‘dropping’ consistency, basically if you lift up your spoon the batter drops back down in a satisfying way like a glossy cake batter. If you’ve run out of milk you can use water, if if you have any leftover egg whites in the fridge from festive baking you can also use those too.
- Transfer the batter to a piping bag and cut a 1 cm hole in the bottom. Pipe little rounds about 1/2 the desired size of your choux buns, you should get about 12-18. Wet your finger and gently press down on any peaks caused by your piping bag to get nice, smooth, even choux.
- Bake the choux buns for 10 minutes (for the love of god don’t open your oven at all or they will deflate!), then drop the temperature to 150 degrees (300 fahrenheit – I use a fan oven by the way) and bake for a final 10-15 minutes. You want to leave them as long as possible to not get raw middles, but don’t let them burn.
- The moment you remove the choux from the oven, discreetly poke them with a cake tester or a cocktail stick to let out the steam to the prevent them deflating. Leave them to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, whisk the whipping cream until again you get a dropping consistency (there is nothing worse than overwhipped, dry cream in a profiterole!) and then with a metal spoon gently fold in the icing sugar, clementine zest and Grand Marnier.
- Once the choux buns are completely cool, add the cream to another piping bag with a small shark nozzle, or a very small hole cut. Gently pipe the cream into the hole you made in each bun to let the steam out until you feel the bun expand slightly to show it is full – you should have a few extra, so don’t worry if you explode one or two getting a hang of it!
- Leave the cream filled profiteroles to firm up in the fridge while you melt the chocolate. I do this by breaking it into pieces and setting it in a heatproof glass bowl over a bowl of simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bowl. The steam will melt the chocolate.
- Dip the tops of each choux bun in the melted chocolate and set aside on a wire rack.
- Carefully pile the buns up on a cake stand. I’ve not had any structural issues putting six in a circle on the base with a big one in the middle, piling almost the rest on top, then crowning it with my best effort.
- If you want to decorate with gold leaf, use a pastry brush to pick up small pieces of the sheet (using a metal knife to hold the rest of the sheet down) and transfer it to the chocolate. Working with gold leaf can be really tricky though (I’ve had quite a lot of experience – don’t ask!) so a sprinkling of edible gold stars might be more up your street – I’ve used both!
Choux and fresh cream don’t really keep well, so make on the day of serving.