When we are visiting Paris, we like to rent an apartment so we can get that “living like a local” feeling. Almost every time we have been lucky enough to be right next to a bakery. The smell of yeast, flour, and sugar penetrates the walls to let us know it is officially 5:00 am. It is the best alarm clock ever. I get up before Lenny, and I lay there until the entire apartment smells of sugar and vanilla which I know is my favorite breakfast treat Les Chouquettes.
I cherish this time of the morning in Paris. I throw on my sweats, grab the camera and head out to capture Paris waking up. And to pick up breakfast. The light is always perfect at this time. The streets are still with only the vendors bringing in the fresh produce, meat, fowl, and fish. The yeastiness of what is baking mixes with all these wonderful smells. I am so incredibly happy and comfortable. One of our favorite morning treats is these wonderfully warm Les Chouquettes. They are airy and slightly sweet, perfect with a strong cup of espresso or a latte.
By the time I get back to the apartment, Lenny is awake, the Les Chouquettes are still warm and all that is left is the beginning to a perfect day with the one I love, in the city that we both love.
Yesterday morning we were listening to our favorite French radio station, drinking coffee and missing one of our favorite places, so I dug out my recipe and whipped up a batch. Before I knew it we kind of felt like we were back in our home away from home.
1 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 cup flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Egg wash – which sometimes I don’t even bother with – it does make the tops a bit more golden brown.
1 egg yolk, mixed with a small amount of water
Crystal sugar or Pearl Sugar
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, you can use a silicone baking mat I prefer parchment.
Heat the water, salt, sugar, and butter in a saucepan, stirring, until the butter is melted. Stir in the vanilla bean paste.
Remove from heat and add all the flour at once.
Stir quickly until the mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth and shiny. Really get in there and mix it all up – use all your might.
Using two spoons, scoop up a mound of dough with one spoon about the size of a walnut and then scrape it off with the other spoon onto the baking sheet. Or you can use a pastry bag, I like the number 807.
Place the mounds evenly-spaced apart on the baking sheet.
Brush the top of each mound with some of the egg wash- if you are using – with a pastry brush. Then sprinkle the sugar crystals over the top, don’t be shy on this part. Use a lot!
Bake the puffs for about 20 – 30 minutes – depending on the size and how brown you like them. I tend to lean towards 25 minutes.