Chouquettes are delectable and airy little French treats made using choux pastry. These sweet snacks can be topped with a variety of flavours but we’re opting for a classic pearl sugar topping (as well as a less-classic chocolate chip topping).
Chouquettes were one of the very first things I learnt how to bake. I’d grown up eating versions of them around Paris (they’re available at almost all French bakeries/patisseries, and at many cafes too), and my French teacher had told me that they were an excellent place to begin learning how to bake.
However, Professor Pierre is not my clearest chouquette memory (sorry, professor!).
Circa 2014, I don’t remember the exact month, but it was around 2am. I was woken by a scratching and dull thudding sound against my bedroom door. A tired voice from outside called for me. “Rizzzzzzz…pleaseeeeeee…Rizzzzzzz…can you make me chouquettes?”
My housemate had discovered, from one of our mutual friends, that I had made them chouquettes, and he refused to stop scratching at my door until I made him a batch too. I refused at first (what? I was sleeping!) but then eventually gave in and attempted to bake him a batch while I was still half-asleep.
It didn’t go well! (And to this day, he claims that I messed up that batch just to hurt him.) We did bake another batch the next morning once I was a little more coherent, and they turned out divine.
What are chouquettes
Chouquettes (pronounced “shoo-kets”) are small French sugar puffs made using choux pastry. They are the better known sibling to their savoury counterpart, gougeres (made with cheese). Chouquette have a golden brown exterior, similar to profiteroles/cream puffs, but do not contain cream. Instead they usually have some sort of sweet topping such as pearl sugar (sometimes called nib sugar).
What does chouquette mean in English?
The term ‘chouquette’ doesn’t have any specific meaning – it is derived from ‘choux’, which is the type of pastry used to make a chouquette.
For the choux pastry
- Unsalted butter
- Powdered sugar
- All-purpose flour
For the chouquette topping
- Pearl sugar
- Dark chocolate, chopped or mini chocolate chips (optional)
How to make chouquettes
Make the pâte à choux
In a medium pot, heat the milk, water, sugar, salt, and butter together, over a medium heat, making sure to stir occasionally. Once the mixture begins to boil, remove it from the heat, and add the flour. Mix together until well combined.
Once combined, returned the pot to medium heat, and allow the mixture to cook, stirring constantly, until a dough is formed that does not stick to the sides of the pan, about 4-5 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a stand mixer bowl, and using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed. Pour the whisked beaten egg into the bowl in stages (I usually do about four stages), making sure to allow each stage of eggs to mix well – you want to maintain a smooth and homogenous batter.
Bake the chouquettes
Transfer the mixture to your piping bag, equipped with a large round/plain tip. (If you don’t have a designated piping bag, you can snip the end off a large zip lock bag and use that.) Pipe the dough into a simple dome shapes (of about 1-inch diameter) into a baking tray lined with a silicone baking mat (or parchment paper).
Use a wet finger (meaning, dab your finger into a bowl of water first) to flatten the tips of piped pâte à choux dough. We do this to avoid the thinner tops burning in the oven!
Sprinkle off the tops of the dough with the pearl sugar. If you’re adding any other toppings (i.e. the chocolate chips), this is where you would add them. You will likely need to lightly press the toppings into the dough in order to prevent them from falling off during the baking stage.
Bake in a preheated oven at 355 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve your chouquettes slightly warm for extra points.
Consistency is key
The biggest factor in making any sort of delicious choux pastry recipe is making sure to get the right consistency in the choux dough. You want a dough that is comfortable to pipe, but not runny.
Room temperature ingredients
This is general recipe advice, but it is doubly important for choux recipes. Unless specified, all ingredients should be at room temperature.
Prepare your baking sheet
Ensure to properly prep your baking tray by lining it with parchment paper or using a silicone mat. The pearl sugar will sometimes fall off the choux pastry puffs, and if you don’t have parchment or a mat to catch it, you’ll end up needing to clean caramelized sugar from your tray. Not fun!
Choose your sugar
Using the right kind of sugar is important to maintaining the right textures and the look of your chouquettes. While you can make this recipe by sprinkling powdered sugar on to your dough, it won’t add anything to the appearance, and you’ll be missing a little texture in your bites.
Typically, pearl sugar is the go-to for this simple, airy pastry recipe. And there are two types to be aware of:
Swedish Pearl Sugar is smaller and your standard pick for chouquettes.
Belgian Pearl Sugar has larger crystals and is not seen on chouquettes too often (just because chouquettes are quite small), but it can definitely work.
The right tools for the job
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If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can scoop your choux dough using a cookie scoop or a spoon. It is always handy to have a simple pastry kit on hand.
If you don’t have a stand mixer, don’t worry! This recipe can be mixed in a large bowl with a wooden spoon (and a little old school grit), or using a handheld electric mixer.
Prick your choux
I remember when I first made choux pastry with a culinary student, she told me that her instructor had advised that the baked choux pastry should be pricked with a toothpick to release some air, and reduce the chances of your choux collapsing. This is good advice. I usually don’t bother with it though.
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As you can imagine, it’s easy to switch out the topping on this recipe. If you can’t get your hands on pearl sugar or chopped chocolate, here are some other ideas:
- Chopped hazelnuts
- Crushed Oreo cookies
- Chopped Smarties
- Bake the chouquettes plain, and then drizzle over some melted chocolate.
More French baking
Chouquettes are best enjoyed the same day they’re made. They can be stored in an airtight container for a day or so. They can however be frozen for up to one month – simply allow them to cool to room temperature, pack them into freezer-safe bags, and freeze.
To eat, allow them to thaw to back to room temperature (you can also hit them with a quick bit of heat in the oven to help maintain the crispy exterior).
And that’s it! That’s pretty much everything you need to know when it comes to baking chouquettes. Will you be trying these little French treats? Let me know in the comments below.Print