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Make this patisserie favourite at home with this easy recipe from the beautiful new cookbook, The Art of French Baking, recipes by Ginette Mathiot. Published by Phaidon Press. RRP $49.95.

Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus cooling time

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 6

1 quantity Choux Pastry (see below)

1 quantity Chocolate Crème Pâtissière (see below)

1 quantity Chocolate Icing (see below)


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and grease a baking tray with butter. Pipe or spoon the choux pastry dough into fingers on the prepared tray. Bake for 20 minutes and allow to cool. When cooled, slit the élairs along the side, fill with chocolate crème pâtissière and top with chocolate icing.


CHOUX PASTRY

Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus cooling time

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Makes enough for 16 choux buns


20 g (3/4 oz) caster sugar

100 g (3 1/2 oz) butter, plus extra for greasing

1 teaspoon salt

120 g (4 oz) plain flour

4 eggs, beaten


In a large pan, gently heat 120ml (4 fl oz) water with the sugar, butter and salt until the butter has melted, then bring to the boil. Quickly add the flour    all at once, and beat with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat and continue to beat the dough for about 1 minute until it comes away easily from the sides of the pan. Grease a plate with butter, turn the mixture out onto it and leave to cool to room temperature. Return the dough to the pan, off the heat, and gradually beat in the eggs until the dough is smooth and glossy.



Variation: To make choux buns, preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7. Butter a baking tray and pipe or spoon egg-sized pieces of choux pastry dough onto it, spaced well apart. Turn the oven down to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Bake for 20 minutes until well risen and golden. Fill as required and serve hot or cold.


CRÈME PÂTISSIÈRE

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Enough for 1 medium-sized cake


500 ml (18 fl oz) milk

1/2 vanilla pod, split and seeds removed
50 g (1 3/4 oz) plain flour


75 g (2 1/2 oz) caster sugar

1 egg

3 egg yolks


Place the milk and the vanilla seeds and pod in a large saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Beat the flour, sugar and eggs together in a large bowl. Pour the boiling milk over this mixture, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Pour back into the saucepan and cook over gentle heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat as soon as the mixture comes to the boil and thickens. Remove the vanilla pod.


Note: Crème patissiere can be flavoured by adding grated chocolate, instant coffee, Kirsch or rum.


CHOCOLATE ICING

Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus cooling time

Enough for 1 medium-sized cake


60g (2 oz) chocolate, chopped

60g (2 oz) butter

2 very fresh eggs, separated


In a small pan, gently melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Remove from the heat, allow to cool and then mix in the egg yolks. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and fold into the chocolate mixture. When ready to use, spread the icing over a cold cake with a palette knife. The icing sets as it cools.?


What is your favourite French dessert?