Every child in France loves chouquettes, those golden little puffs topped with sugar grains. They´re sold at every bakery, the perfect little treat between lunchtime and dinner, or when forces are about to swoon on the playground. I adore them, too, especially when sliced and filled with whipped cream, then reminding of their larger German cousin, the `wind bag` (Windbeutel). Though you can reheat them, chouquettes are the better the fresher they are, which is why I started baking them at home for goûter, the afternoon snack, or instead of pancakes for a late weekend breakfast. But no matter what cream filling I came up with – and I really tried – my kids
prefer request the plain ones, always, with a particular affinity to those with the most sugar grains on them.( Sometimes I even have the slightest suspicion their love for chouquettes is basically all about the sugar grains.)
So you see, there are the chouquette purists on one side, and then there´s me who likes them flavored with anything from coffee to pistachio, on the other (my husband is in both teams here). To make us all happy, I either make regular chouquettes, some with cream, some without; or I make chouquettes with marzipan in the batter – think gougères, the cheese enriched puffs from Burgundy, but sweet. Given my soft spot for marzipan, I don´t use it nearly enough, and finely grated, it adds almond-y sweetness and depth in flavor without making the batter too heavy to puff up in the oven. Which is the main purpose in the life of a chouquette anyway: to puff up, look golden, and disappear in no time, preferably while warm and straight from the cooling rack.
Classic or with my little German touch, in that all puffs are one and the same.
Marzipan chouquettes (makes about 24 ping pong ball sized puffs):
120 ml milk
120 ml water
40 g butter
125 g sifted AP flour
3 eggs + 1 for the egg wash
150 g grated marzipan
10 ml orange blossom water
1 pinch salt
zest from 1 organic orange
slivered almonds to sprinkle on top
Grate the marzipan, sift the flour.
In a medium saucepan, bring milk with water, orange flower water, orange zest and salted butter to boil. Reduce heat to low, add sifted flour in one go, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon to avoid lumps. Stir to dry the batter until it roughly forms a ball, and no longer sticks to the bottom and sides of the saucepan. This will take about 3 minutes.
Remove saucepan from the heat. Break in the eggs one at a time, stirring until fully incorporated, then add the next. Finally, stir in the grated marzipan.
Fill the batter into a piping bag fitted with a large nozzle. In a circular movement, pipe little domes onto a parchment paper lined baking tray, keeping in mind they will puff up in the oven. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with slivered almonds.
Bake for 25-30 minutes in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Generously dust with confectioner´s sugar to serve.
Classic chouquettes (makes about 30):
165 ml milk
165 ml water
1 tsp of orange blossom water, optional
100 g butter
2 tbsp sugar
1 pinch salt
175 g flour, sifted
1 egg wash
handful of sugar grains
For instructions, see recipe above. Baking time is 35 min at 180°C/350°F