• Choux Canapés

    It's rather embarrassing to admit it, but until recently I had never made choux pastry. I adore profiteroles, probably the most common use of choux, but somehow they never seemed to be the appropriate pudding to make. However, having now discovered the savoury possibilities of this incredibly versatile and well-behaved pastry I can see that it is going to become a favourite member of my regular repertoire.

    Dinner with good friends on New Year's Eve, when I was allocated the canapés and starter as my contribution, seemed to be a great opportunity to try something new. I wanted my offering to be suitably delicious for the occasion but knew that my lovely friends would be both honest about the results and also forgiving if some tweaking would be beneficial. As a safety net, I brought along two other canapés as well, thoroughly tried and tested options which I could be certain would be a success and keep everyone going until dinner.

    However, I needn’t have worried as these light, crisp bundles were definitely the star of the show. My filling and topping won’t win any prizes for originality but now I can be confident that the basic format works so well, I can start developing some more novel incarnations; watch this space!

    Miniature Choux Buns with Goat’s Cheese Mousse and Red Onion Jam

    For the Choux pastries

    110g plain flour

    175ml water

    ½ tsp fine salt

    75g butter, in cubes

    3 medium eggs, beaten

    For the Red Onion Jam

    1 large red onion, finely sliced

    1 tbsp rapeseed (or sunflower) oil

    2 sprig thyme

    2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

    1 tbsp soft brown sugar

    For the Goat’s Cheese Mousse

    200g soft goat's cheese

    150g crème fraiche

    Micro herbs to garnish

    Preheat the oven to 180˚C and line a large baking tray with baking paper.

    In a saucepan, heat the water, salt and butter until the butter has just melted. Bring just to the boil, remove from the heat, tip in the flour all at once and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon. After 20 seconds or so you should have a smooth ball of dough that leaves the sides of the pan. Put the pan back on a low heat and beat again for 30 seconds. Take the pan of the heat and leave to cool slightly; a couple of minutes will be fine.

    Beat in the eggs, at little at a time, beating hard between each addition. You can use an electric whisk for this but it’s easy enough with a wooden spoon. You might not need all of the egg (I usually seem to though) and by the time you have added enough the dough will be shiny and soft enough to fall from the spoon.

    Put the mixture into a suitable bag and pipe it onto the baking paper in small mounds with some space between each one. If you are making miniature choux buns for canapés remember to keep them suitably little. You’ll probably find that each one has a little point on the top but you can get rid of this by pressing them down with a finger that has been dipped in cold water; without the water you’ll just make it worse!

    Bake for about 20 mins or until well risen and golden, turning the tray round in the oven if necessary to achieve an even bake. This mix made quite a lot so I made it in batches, but it’s worth making it all because they freeze really well.

    Remove from the oven and pierce the side of each bun with a skewer to allow the steam to escape.

    Return to the oven for 2 mins to crisp up and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Be amazed at how the rather flat little puddles of dough have transformed into glorious rounds of crispness with light, fluffy insides. Once you’ve finished admiring your work and the next batch is in the oven, you can get going with the filling and topping.

    For the red onion jam, put the onion, oil and thyme in a pan and allow it to soften very slowly. This will take about 20 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar, stir until the sugar has dissolved and then bring it up to a boil and allow to simmer fairly vigorously for a few minutes until it all thickens up. It needs to be properly jammy so it can hold its shape on top of the choux. If you put this in a sterilised jar while it’s still hot it will keep for ages but if not just allow it to cool and keep it in anything suitable until you want to use it. In that case you can still make it a few days in advance.

    For the goat’s cheese mousse, simply combine the cheese and the crème fraiche in a bowl and stir until it is completely smooth. Season really well with salt and pepper and taste to check. Put it into a piping bag or a squeezy bottle with a small, long nozzle.

    When everything has been made, cooled, jarred and bottled or bagged you can put it all in the fridge until you need it. As mentioned above the buns will freeze really well if you want to get well ahead; just remember to get them out of the freezer in time for them to defrost.

    When you are ready to use them, arrange the choux buns on a baking tray and put them through the oven for 5 minutes at 180˚C to crisp them up again. Each one will have a small hole in the side where you pricked it with a skewer so persuade your piping nozzle through that and squeeze until the cavernous inside is filled with goat’s cheese mousse. Top with a scant ½ tsp of red onion jam and finish with a micro herb if you like. I used wasabi mustard shoots from the Japanese salad mix produced by Growing Underground, available through Ocado. The mix also included pink stem radish shoots which would have looked lovely too.



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I'll be blogging regularly to keep everyone up to date with how things are going with the cookery demos and including lots of tempting recipes. Let me know what you think!

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