Chouquettes are a small, delicate pastry. They are usually sold by the bagful at French bakeries… no one in their right mind would eat just one.
My daughter will be graduating high school this year, and hopefully in September, she will start school at Leiden University (just like her mother). It’s been an exciting school year so far as she prepares for the final tests and projects that come with the last months of Dutch gymnasium. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, gymnasium is a school for children with the highest academic level, lasts six years and is meant to prepare them for a university education. It’s not an easy school career. Six full years of hard work, with Latin and Greek thrown in for good measure. But she’s nearing the finish line — and she’s making me incredibly proud.
Yesterday evening we attended her final presentation, and to say that I was probably more nervous than she was would be a sorry understatement. I felt my heart thumping in my throat as she took her place at the front of the room and started her speech. I knew she was quite nervous herself too, so I tried to not let it show too much, and instead smiled approvingly (and silently prayed). But those nerves were not necessary at all, because my word did that child make me proud! At the end of her presentation (which was on whether the Trojan war was a fact or myth), her teacher almost cried with happiness as he beamed and complimented her for a fantastic job, awarding her a big fat 9 (highest score possible is a 10). Needless to say, momma almost cried, too!
And how else do you celebrate a victory than with something delicious? At least chez nous that is! As a little surprise, I decided to bake chouquettes this morning for her (and us, of course). Similar to a cream puff (but without the cream), these little pastry kisses are sprinkled with crunchy pearl sugar, light as clouds and incredibly cute. Not to mention incredibly addictive, which is probably why you wouldn’t think of walking into a French bakery and ordering just one.
What I love about them is that they are so easy to make with simple ingredients you probably already have in the house, with the exception of pearl sugar. And should that be the case, simply chop up some sugar cubes and you will get the same effect. If you want to make these even more delicious, fill them with whipped cream or ice cream and dip their tops in melted chocolate.
A word of warning: these are not meant to keep until the next day, so please go ahead and polish off the entire batch. You can be good again tomorrow.
(Makes approximately 35)
- 200ml water
- 100 g butter, cubed
- Fat pinch of fleur de sel
- 4 tbsps fine sugar
- 130g all-purpose flour
- 3 small eggs (plus an extra one, whisked, for brushing)
- Pearl sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bring the water with the butter, salt and sugar to a boil and lower the heat once the butter is melted. Sift in the flour all at once and whisk it in well for about a minute. Remove the pan from the heat and add the eggs one by one, mixing them in really well with a wooden spoon. You will need to put all of your power into stirring! The dough should be satiny and smooth after stirring in the final egg. Fill a piping bag with the dough (or use two teaspoons) and drop little mounds onto the baking sheet. Brush each one with whisked egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake the chouquettes for 25-27 minutes. Allow to cool slightly… and devour!