Arsip Tag: puffs

sugar puffs – smitten kitchen

I have been wanting to make the sugar puffs known as chouquettes forever, or at least as long as it has been since I read about them for the first time on Chocolate and Zucchini. I loved Clotilde’s descriptions of buying them by weight in French bakeries and how the best part is eating the sugar crystals (by licking your finger and reaching in, of course) that have collected in the bottom of the bag. They’re apparently the after-school goûter, or snack of choice, for the French schoolkid set and though I might be getting a late start on them, I am quickly making up for lost time.

mini chips and pearl sugarblending in the flourpiping the moundschouquettes, ready to bake

Chouquettes are actually really simple: they are based on the “paste” or pâte à choux dough that is also used to form cream puffs, éclairs and gougères — a simple mix of water, melted butter, flour and eggs. There’s only a smidgen of sugar in them, which is why that craggy pearl sugar on top, or — who are we kidding — a deluge of miniature chocolate chips, are so essential. And it was precisely the absence of that pearl sugar that caused my, ahem, five-plus year delay in making them.

sugar puffs

I finally grabbed some at G. Detou, a bakers paradise, in Paris in October, blind to the fact that there is a store in my neighborhood that sells them and an Internet full of sites where they can be ordered as well (I’ve listed sources at the end.) I don’t regret holding out for them. They are texturally different than I’d expected; I imagined a large, hard sugar crystal, instead, they’re more like a million tiny ones squished together — they crunch like toast crumbs. If I ever get that chocolate pretzel cookie recipe right, I will be using them there as well, because I much prefer them to coarse sugar, but of course, in a pinch, it will do as well.

chouquette, puffy!

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Twitter I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had set up a Twitter feed solely devoted to letting people know when there is a new post from the smitten kitchen. But I also have a separate Twitter stream I didn’t mention because I honestly do not know why anyone would want to hear me tersely babble about the weather, shopping, irritating Web sites that resize my browser, and how gigantic my crush on a certain NYTimes style writer is (in a word, colossal). As it turns out, there are 1,000 people in that category so on the occasion of that nice round number, let me be out with it. But don’t say I didn’t warn you: I really do go on about Bill Cunningham a lot.

Sugar Puffs [Chouquettes]
Adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini and David Lebovitz

Makes about two dozen, depending on the size

1 cup (250 ml) water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons (90 grams) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 cup (135 gram) flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Glaze: 1 egg yolk whisked with 1 teaspoon milk

Toppings: Pearl sugar [see places to buy them at the end] and/or miniature chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a cookie sheet with a reusable nonstick baking mat or parchment paper.

Heat the water, salt, sugar, and butter in a meduim saucepan, stirring, until the butter is melted. Remove the pot from the heat heat and dump all the flour in at once. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a smooth ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Let the dough cool for five minutes, then briskly beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the dough is smooth and shiny. [At this point you can cover the pot and chill it in the fridge for up to a day.]

Using two spoons, a piping bag fitted with a wide tip, a zip-lock bag with a one-inch corner cut off or a spring-loaded large cookie scoop, pipe or scoop the dough into walnut-sized mounds spaced evenly on the baking sheet.

(If you find your dough to be a bit thin at this point, as you can see mine was in the photos, do not fret. They still puff just fine. And if they don’t, David says he sees bakeries all over Paris selling flat ones, so perhaps you’re just being trendy!)

Brush the top of each mound with some of the egg glaze then press coarse sugar crystals or miniature chocolate chips over the top and sides of each mound. You want to be generous because the puffs will expand a lot, and you’ll want that area to be covered.

Bake the cream puffs for 20 to 35 minutes, or until puffed and well-bronzed. (Yes, this is a rather long range in baking time but I know that in choux recipes especially, baking times can greatly vary depending on the heat of an oven and how fast it browns the top of items. Watch for that nicely bronzed color rather than a precise cooking time.)

Do ahead: Sugar puffs are best the day that they’re made. I find if they’re stored overnight in an airtight container, they get damp on top and the sugar and chips will slide off, though you can easily re-crisp them in the oven If you can deal with them being a bit dryer on day two you can leave them out unwrapped. Chouquettes can also be frozen in a freezer bag for up to a month, and re-crisped in the oven once defrosted.In addition, you can store the unpiped/scooped dough in the fridge for up to a day.

Places to buy sucre perlé or coarse white sugar: The Baker’s Catalogue, L’Epicerie, Ikea (!), Amazon and if you’re in New York City, the Cake and Baking Supply store on 22nd Street.

I bought mine at G. Detou in Paris in October, tra-la-la, along with a vial of the fattest vanilla beans ever, more Dijon mustard than normal people would go through in a decade yet regrettably not the 3-kilo super low-priced box of Valrhona cocoa, because I had no room left in my suitcase. And yes, I am still kicking myself.

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cinnamon brown butter breakfast puffs – smitten kitchen

I took a Home Economics class in the 7th grade. I probably don’t need to tell you how stoked I was about this (especially after nearly flunking Wood Shop the semester before with the saddest “toolbox” ever) although I am fairly certain they failed at whatever household management skills they’d hoped to impress on my 12-year-old self. I’m currently staring down a particularly fetid sinkful of dishes, willing them to wash themselves, while deep creases form in a towering basket of clean laundry that has yet to be folded, though perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope for the next generation. Nevertheless, the one class I remember perfectly was the one in which we made a puffy muffin embodiment of butter-slathered, sugar broiled cinnamon toast. It could be whipped up in no time, presumably along with a stack of bacon while wearing a gown-like robe and fuzzy slippers to the delight of sleepy-eyed children tumbling down the stairs. (Sorry, my housewife archetype is firmly etched in the Brady Bunch era.)

freshly grated nutmeg

These pastries are, amusingly, called French Breakfast Puffs, I presume they are “French” in the way that French Toast and French Fries are, or that I convince myself I am every time I order Lillet, which is to say, dubiously. Their origin, however — the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens– isn’t half as interesting as their flavor, which is a little bit snickerdoodle, a little bit butter cake and a lot of addictiveness. My first thought upon eating one in class that day was “It’s like a doughnut hole!” and my second was “Why hasn’t my mother ever made these for me? I thought she said she loved us!” and then I pouted for the remainder of the hour. What? I said I was 12.

filling the tins -- you fill it less, okay?

what overfilled muffin tins look like
rolled in cinnamon sugar
dipped in browned butter

I cannot think of a better time to share this recipe than in this last week of entertaining before we all must don our gay old treadmill-trotting apparel again, I mean, for stretchy pants’ sake, they are rolled in butter. We’re not going to even pretend that this would be acceptable in the days after a New Years Day brunch, so we might as well enjoy them while we can. I made some changes to the old-school recipe; shortening became butter, melted butter became browned butter (because, have we met?), regular milk became buttermilk and I made them tiny, mini-muffin size rather than standard because the more they resemble cinnamon-sugar decked doughnut holes, the happier I am. And now I need you to come over and eat them for me. Please. There are but 29 28 25 left…

buttermilk breakfast puffs
please, eat these

One year ago: Milk Punch
Two years ago: Spinach and Cheese Strata, Pear Bread and Parmesan Cheese Crackers
Three years ago: Gramercy Tavern’s Gingerbread and Pizza with Broccoli Rabe and Roasted Onions
Four years ago: Robert Linxe’s Chocolate Truffles
Five years ago: Hazelnut Trufffles and Gougeres

Cinnamon Brown Butter Breakfast Puffs
Adapted from Betty Crocker and others

If you don’t wish to use buttermilk, you can replace it with regular milk and nix the baking soda (keeping the baking powder). I like to get the toppings ready first because they take so little time to bake, you don’t want to be scrambling to have something to dip them in.

Yield: 9 to 12 standard muffin-size puffs or 30-ish miniature ones. Try not to overfill as I did or you won’t get as great domes on them.

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup (5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing muffin cups
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 12 standard size or 30 miniature muffin cups, or line cups with paper liners.

Prepare coatings: In a small saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat and continue to cook it, stirring frequently, until brown bits form on the bottom and it smells nutty and heavenly. Immediately remove from heat and set aside. In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside as well.

Prepare puffs: Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together in a medium bowl and set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Mix in 1/3 of flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of buttermilk, repeating again and finishing with the flour mixture. Mix only until combined.

Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling only 3/4 of the way. (I filled mine higher and they ended up spilling over a bit and doming less than they are capable of.) Bake standard sized muffins for 20 to 25 minutes and miniature muffins for 12 to 14 minutes. When finished, muffins will feel springy to the touch and a tester inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer them in their pan to a wire rack.

As soon as you feel you’re able to pick one up, take your first puff and roll the top and upper edges in the browned butter. Don’t be afraid to pick up the browned butter solids at the bottom of the saucepan; they’re the dreamiest part. Let any excess butter drip off for a second before gently rolling the butter-soaked cake top in cinnamon-sugar. I find if you roll too firmly, or have too much wet/not absorbed butter on top, the sugar can clump off, which is heartbreaking. Transfer puff to wire rack to set and repeat with remaining puffs. Eat warm.

For an even more indulgent, doughnut-like puff: Make an extra two tablespoons of the browned butter and roll the whole puff in it and the cinnamon sugar. (I usually have enough cinnamon sugar to fully roll the puffs.)

Do ahead: Puffs are best within hours after they are baked. They can be made it advance and stored in a freezer bag until needed, too. Simply spread them out on a baking tray and reheat them until warm in the oven.

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