Pâte à Choux or Choux Pastry

Because you asked for it, we’re tackling the French pastry dough called choux pastry (pronounced “shoo”) or, in French, pâte à choux. “Choux” means cabbage and pâte means paste. So, literally we’ll talking about cabbage paste.

And, why “cabbage paste” you ask? Well, if you use your imagaination the baked dough looks like tiny cabbages. But then they also look like Brussels Sprouts (which resemble tiny cabbages). How about instead of cabbage paste or tiny cabbages or Brussels Sprouts, we just call the dough pâte à choux. And of course we have the term of endearment “mon petit chou” my little cabbage. But I digress…

Omit the cheese and the mounds of dough after they’re baked become cream puffs (if they are filled with chantilly cream) or Profitroles (if filled with ice cream and  drizzled with melted chocolate). The dough can become Éclairs (if the shape is changed and the end result is filled with pastry cream and topped with chocolate ganache). Pipe the dough into a circle, fill the baked round of deliciousness with praline pastry cream, top with slivered almonds and a dusting of powdered sugar and you have a Paris-Brest. If you top them with pearl sugar before they are baked then they become a chouquettes when pulled out of the oven.

Omit the sugar, add grated gruyère or comté cheese and you have Gougères. Replace the gruyère with 1/2 cup parmesan and the dough becomes Gnoochi Parisienne when cooked.

For Cream Puffs, Profiteroles, or Eclairs:
1/2 cup (4 oz) water
1/2 cup (4 oz) whole milk
6 tablespoons (3 oz) butter, unsalted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 cup (4.5 oz) all-purpose Flour
4 large eggs

For Chouquettes:
Follow the recipe above and add:
a sprinkle of pearl sugar to each mound of dough prior to baking. 
Pearl sugar can be found at King Arthur Pearl Sugar or Amazon
If you’re in Paris stop at this shop David Lebovitz mentions called G. Detou

For Gougères:
Omit the granulated sugar and add:
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
½ teaspoon Fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 cup (3.5 oz) gruyère or comté cheese, grated

For any of the above, prior to baking, brush the dough with:
1 large egg, beaten with
1/2 teaspoon water

For Gnocchi Parisianne:
Omit the granulated sugar and add:
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan, divided
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

In saucepan, combine water, milk, butter, salt, and sugar.  Bring to a boil until butter is melted.  Remove from heat.  Add the flour all at once.  Return to heat and beat 1-2 minutes over moderate heat, until mixture begins to film the bottom of the pan. 

Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, until absorbed. Stir in cheese.

Insert piping bag with ½” plain tip and fill bag with dough. Pipe dough in 1/2-inch mounds. Beat together 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon water to make egg wash.  Brush wash on each mound.

Bake at 425ºF for approximately 20 minutes. If they start getting too browned lower the temperature to 375ºF and continue baking until lightly browned.  Pierce with knife; return to oven for several minutes.  Remove to wire rack.

To finish the Gnocchi Parisianne:
Add the pepper, Dijon mustard, and grated Parmesan cheese and beat until combined. Transfer to a 16-inch piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plan tip. Refrigerate for a half hour.

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

Holding the piping bag over the barely boiling water, squeeze the mixture out of the bag, cutting it off with a kitchen shears into 1-inch pieces and letting them fall directly into the boiling water. Cook until the gnocchi float to the top, about 2 minutes. As they float, transfer them with a slotted spoon to the prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.

Melt the butter in a large high-sided sauté pan over medium heat. Add the gnocchi in an even layer, sprinkle with the thyme leaves, and let the gnocchi cook undisturbed until browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Gently flip and cook to brown on the other side, 3 to 5 minutes more, swirling the pan occasionally so that the butter browns evenly. Toss to coat the gnocchi in the brown butter. Transfer to individual bowls and serve garnished with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

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