When we head to Paris, we prefer to rent an apartment to get that “living like a local” feeling. Every time we have been lucky enough to be close enough to a pastry shop or baking so the aroma of yeast, flour, and sugar penetrates the walls to say wake up! Best alarm clock ever. I always get up before Lenny and wait until the apartment smells of sugar and vanilla then I head down to grab a dozen of my favorite breakfast treats Les Chouquettes know as French Puff Pastries.
I cherish this time of the morning in Paris. I throw on my sweats, grab my camera, and head out to capture Paris all sleepy eyed as it wakes up. The light is always perfect at this time. The streets are still with only the vendors bringing in fresh produce, meat, fowl, and fish. The yeastiness of what is baking mixes with all these other wonderful smells. This is definitely one of my happy moments in life. One of our favorite morning treats are these wonderfully warm Les Chouquettes. They are light and airy as well as slightly sweet, perfect companion alongside 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 felt like we were back in our home away from home.
- Use parchment paper to prevent sticking to the baking sheet – the sugar can melt onto the pan and cause this to happen.
- Bring eggs to room temperature.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time; don’t rush after all you are pretending you are in Paris. What are you in a hurry for?
- If you cannot find pearl sugar use Demerara Sugar
- Mixer with whisk attachment
- Baking Sheet
- Parchment paper
Recipe: Les Chouquettes
- 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
- Pearl Sugar or Demerara 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.