Rue Cler when she was visiting last spring.
This recipe is courtesy of Chocolate & Zucchini, a website that I love! She lives my fantasy life-- cooking and living in France. And writing books!
makes about 40
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, diced
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
4 eggs, at room temperature
For the sugar syrup:
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. water
Combine butter, salt, sugar, and 1 cup fresh water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat, add the flour all at once, and stir quickly with a wooden spoon until well blended. Return the pan over medium-low heat and keep stirring until the mixture forms a smooth ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Let cool for 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, stirring well after each addition. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to a day. Félicitations! You have just made choux pastry (for those éclairs or cream puffs you've been dying to make).
Make the sugar syrup-- combine the 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat, lower the heat to medium and simmer for 1 minute. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400˚ (200˚C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Sprinkle pearl sugar evenly on the prepared sheet. Remove the batter from the fridge and use two teaspoons or a piping bag fitted with a plain tip to form small balls of batter, about the size of a walnut, that you will plop on the prepared sheet, leaving an inch of space between them. Brush with sugar syrup using a pastry brush, and sprinkle with pearl sugar. (There will be some grains of unused sugar on the sheet, but don't worry about it; you can collect the grains after baking and reuse them in another batch.)
Bake for 20 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown (do not open the door during the first 10 minutes of baking). Turn off the oven, open the door just a crack, and leave the chouquettes in for another 5 minutes to prevent a temperature shock, which would cause them to deflate.
Transfer to a rack and let cool completely before serving. Keep any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature and reheat for 5 minutes in a 300˚F (150˚C) to restore the original texture.
Bon appétit, les petites pâtisseries françaises!