Choux pastry is a wonderful versatile pastry that has many applications.. Being a very neutral pastry dough its applications have been seen in pick me up desserts, with high tea on a perfect looking pedestal stand and savoury amuse buche in fancy restaurants. For example in France choux pastry in the form of chouquettes or profiteroles are often purchased as le goûter or le apres midi snack afernoon snack by the Parisians
According to LAROUSSE – a famous Bible of origins gastronomy states ‘PÂTE À CHOUX’ like many other pastries has a longer history and vague origins… the first literation of the batter was invented in 1540 by the Florentine chef who was a personal chef to the Queen Catherine de’ Medici this recipe was known to be PÂTE À POPELIN that was uniquely defined by Panterelli as little buns in the form of women’s breasts. ..Which subsequently became the Paris Brest today. The recipe was later modified over the century by many chefs and was most uniquely presented in the form of choux pastry by AVICE a renowned pastry chef of the 18th century.
The father of haute cuisine, Marie-Antoine Carême (perhaps the first-ever “celebrity chef”), made the final refinements to the recipe in the early nineteenth century and the pâte à choux used today french pastry schools and culinary books is the same one used by Carême almost two hundred years ago.
The same recipe of this choux pastry is used around the world to make the famous french wedding cakes Croquembouche (stacks of profiteroles glued together with caramel), gâteau St.-Honoré. In spain and latin america the recipe is used to make famous fried beignets known as churros and dipped in thin chocolate blancmange for breakfast. In austria sweet apricot dumplings, in UK the famous yorkshire pudding and in Indonesia the street snack ‘kue sus’.
How it has become a trend
Although it seems like the choux pastry in the form of éclair or profiteroles is the latest sweet fad that has replaced the ‘cupcake or a french delicacy like the macaron.. somehow in my opinion a trend brings a new fresh perpesctive to the forground that lets us redefine it. A classical pastry such as choux has been traditonally seemed to be enjoyed as a festive sweet delicacy. It is in the form of elaborate french wedding cakes known as the croquembouche (the profiterole tower) with vanilla custard and crispy hard caramel or in the savoury realm in the form of chef Atoine carem’s’ famous choux pastry based dishes seen in french bistros such as the ‘Pomme Dauphine (choux paste mixed with mashed potatoes), the Gnocchi Parisenne (small poached dumplings masked with Mornay sauce and gratinated) or the savoury gougeres filled with gruyere fromage custard.
In the last 5 years the pastry world has seen an explosion of ideas with chefs exploiting social media platforms to showcase nouvelle and fresh perspective to traditional classics. I would specifically say that food presentation has become more artistic, with that pastries have become real luxuries where modern design and avant garde style has been a distinguishing factor. There is such a buzz that all of Foodies rush to be the first to discover new patisserie creation
In the case of choux the simplicity of it has attracted buddying enterprising modern patisseries to see it with a fresh perspective. This pastry is rejuvenated from a classical gateux cake or a messy looking glazed éclair to a more elegant and beautiful yet a prêt snack.
Chef Christophe Adam took the french pastry scene by storm when he first introduced his funky looking éclairs in fauchon (french pastry boutique) and one of his eclairs even went viral with the monalisa graphic printed on the éclair that caught the eyeballs of the tourist. With him starting his boutique, éclair based boutique cafes and patisseries such as the Maitre choux in london, popelini choux pastry in US (You can enjoy these delightful little balls of choux pastry with cream or ice cream in a flavours, to choose from: Paris-Brest, lemon meringue, chocolate), L’éclair de génie (there’s no monotony here. There is any type of eclair you could think of: classic, cocktail, even savoury, like the club ham and cheese éclair) and the ‘choux choux boutique by Chef Jean Francois perge where he has innovated a small choux bun in a larger choux bun, to create different tantalizing flavor and texture concoctions on the palate – a real sensorial experience.
For Food And Wine India By Chef Sanjana Patel