Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Custard Filled Choux Balls

With summer holiday season fast approaching I thought it pertinent to post a recipe that will give you more of a workout than most. These little choux pastry buns are delicious luxury mouthfuls, but their creation is not without a little effort. It is important to beat the batter with vigour and vitality, so so prepare to feel the burn, push the envelope and, well you get the idea. Fortunately your industry will soon be rewarded with light and airy choux balls that you can fill and top with whatever you deem appropriate. I have used custard and icing sugar, but I hear stuffing them with whipped cream and drizzling with melted chocolate is also quite popular!

Prep time: 25 Mins
Baking time: 30-35 Mins
100ml Water
100ml Milk
75g Unsalted Butter (Cut into cubes)
1/2tsp Salt
1/2tsp Caster Sugar
115g Plain Flour
2 Large Eggs (Beaten)
Icing sugar (to dust)

For the filling and icing
300g Custard (I use ready made custard, there I've said it)
125g Icing Sugar
1tbsp Cold Water

If you have finished a thorough warm up, then we are ready to begin. Tip the water and milk into a medium saucepan, add the butter and place on a medium heat. Meanwhile mix together the flour, salt and sugar. When the butter has melted and steam is rising from the mixture (you don't want it to boil), turn the heat down to its lowest setting. Add the flour and beat vigorously on the heat. The mixture will start off lumpy but quickly come together to a dough. After about 1 minute of mixing tip the dough into a large mixing bowl and continue beating for a further 1-2 minutes, until the dough is cool enough to touch. Add one of the beaten eggs and continue beating. Initially it will seem like the egg won't combine with the thick dough, but keep mixing and it will eventually come together. Add the second egg and do the same, until you are left with a smooth batter.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a large baking sheet with baking paper. Now with regards to the shaping of the choux balls, you can use a piping bag, piping a blob of the mixture evenly spaced onto the baking sheet. However, if you have no piping equipment, or (like me) piping skill then you can shape a spoonful of the mixture between two dessert spoons before easing off onto the tray. You can expect a more 'rustic' finish using this method, although I actually think this way the finished balls have more character and charm. Oh and you should get between 15-20 out of this quantity of mixture.

Dust each of the balls with a little icing sugar, leave for 1 minute, then repeat. Place the balls into the centre of the oven and bake for around 30-35 minutes, until the balls have risen and are golden brown. When you are happy they are cooked remove and leave on the tray for 15 minutes before transferring each to a wire rack until cool.

Once they are cool you can fill and ice them. For this, you can use a piping bag, although I personally use a dosing syringe I picked up from the chemist! Make a little hole with a skewer or needle in the base of each ball, before filling with the custard. They will take a surprising amount of filling! Invert each ball onto your serving plate. Sift the icing into a bowl, then add the water and mix until smooth and glossy. Drizzle all over the finished balls and your work(out) is complete!

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