Les Chouquettes

Water, butter, and salt.

Melt it down.

Mix vigorously.

Dough paste balling up.

Mix one egg in at a time.

Achieve a glossy dough paste.

Fill piping bag and squeeze.

Pour pearl sugar along the top row of your choux pastry.  Shake the tray up and down to toss the pearl sugar around so that it moves its way down to coat the choux pastry.  See the ones with the pointy tips?—I squeezed out the dough there.  You don't want that.  To achieve a nice, round choux pastry, read my NOTE at the bottom.

Shake off the excess pearl sugar.

Ready to bake.

190° Celcius for 20 minutes.

Et voilà...golden chouquettes.  Lightly crispy on the outside.  Airy and moist on the inside.

I came home from the playground one day and put this on my list to make.  I was intrigued and inspired by an acquaintance deemed a Papa Poule, an attentive, protective, and doting father, who had his child's doll and scooter in hand, along with a bag of fresh chouquettes which he had just made at home. 

I gathered my ingredients and was hit with an obstacle: I couldn't find sucre en grains or sucre perlé in any of the supermarkets nearby.  Obsessed as I can become, I ran to every grocery store and bakery in the area in search of these sugary, white pearls.  Returning home, ruffled by defeat, and saving this battle for another day in another arrondisement, I recounted my story in quest for these sugary, white pearls to Denis and Sandrine, our building's concierge and my neighbor.  Denis also happens to be a wonderful, certified baker.  He gave me a few tips on how to make the chouquettes and told me he would pop by to check on how it was all coming along once I had found all my ingredients.  

Hours later, there was a knock on my door.  I swung the door wide open to find a bag of the sugary, white pearls dangling in front of me: behind was Sandrine.  Elle est trop chou!—She is such a darling!  She happened to be in the 2e and passed by G. Detou, the well-known bakery and cooking ingredients store, and picked me up a kilo of sucre perlé

Feeling like I just won the lottery, I ran down to tell Denis that I had a kilo of my sugary, white pearls.  Denis brought over his baker's toolbox, got right in the kitchen, and showed me how it's done.  Il est chou!—He's a darling!

Denis' Homemade Chouquettes

INGREDIENTS//Yields 80

•  500 grams of water
•  200 grams butter, unsalted
•  4 grams salt
•  300 grams flour (T45)
•  500 grams egg
•  300 grams pearl sugar (a.k.a. hail sugar and nib sugar)

INSTRUCTIONS

In a medium size pot, add your water, butter, and salt.  Bring it to a boil.

Take the pot off the heat, add your flour, and with a spatula, vigorously beat it in until you get a dough paste of ball.

Place the pot back on the heat and keep stirring until the paste of ball unsticks to the sides of the pot.  Shake the pot around so that the ball of dough paste rolls around in the pot unsticking itself from the sides of the pot.

Transfer the dough into a large inox mixing bowl.  Gradually beat in one egg at a time, and keep stirring until you get a glossy consistency.  If you scoop a bit of dough up with your clean finger, the dough should pull and fall back into place.

Denis used a 15mm tip for the pastry/piping bag.  Fill it half way with the dough, and squeeze out small rounds on a baking tray lined with parchment paper leaving an inch apart between them. 

Bake in oven at 190° Celcius (approx. 375° F) for twenty minutes.

NOTE

Using a piping bag looks easier than it is.  I kept getting pointy tips on the top of my choux/puff pastry.  Denis told me it was because I was lifting the piping bag after squeezing out the dough too quickly.  To get the choux/puff pastry nice and round at the top: squeeze out the dough, keep the tip in the dough, make an escargot figure, and then sweep off to the side.  This should give your choux a nice and rounded top.

I also ran across this article on French wheat flour explaining flour types.  I used T45 for this recipe which is regarded as a pastry flour.