Pâte à choux with Chantilly cream a high class dessert

Pâte à choux can be a challenge even for trained chefs. Courtesy photo

Pâte à choux is a delicacy in France and is well known around the world as being a high-class dessert. Many trained chefs have difficulty with the challenging dessert, but I have simplified it to where the classic home cook can make it and surely impress everyone.

I love this dessert because the choux adds crunch, while the cream adds moisture and the berries add just the right amount of flavor. If your New Year’s resolution was to get more involved in the kitchen and try new recipes, this is a great one to start out with and impress your loved ones. I remember when I first made this dessert — trust me, it didn’t end well. I will admit I overcooked the choux and the berries were not right, but what makes you a good cook is never giving up and getting back in the kitchen and trying again. So the next day, I tried it again and I succeeded — I learned from my mistakes and that’s what makes me a better chef today.

So, if a recipe doesn’t always turn out right, don’t give up the first time, and remember — best wishes from trials and errors inside my kitchen to yours.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Yield: 12

Pâte à choux dough

Cody Fitchett

6 eggs
2 cups water
1 1/4 stick of butter
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt

In a medium-sized pot, add the water, butter and salt on medium heat. Bring to a boil and add the flour all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough forms into a ball and looks like stiff mashed potatoes. Take off the heat, and add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Once all six eggs are mixed throughout the dough, the dough should have a yellowish color. Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip and add half the dough into the bag. On a parchment-papered cookie sheet, pipe 12, 2 1/2-inch circles with the dough and place in a preheated oven set for 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes and then reduce the heat to 400 degrees for another 10 to 15 minutes. Take the pat a choux out of the oven and let them cool down completely before the next step.

Chantilly cream

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup vanilla pudding mix

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the heavy cream with the vanilla pudding mix and whip on medium speed for five minutes or until stiff peaks have formed.

Cody’s Tips: To test if you have stiff peaks on your cream, take off the whisk attachment and dip it in the cream; if the cream is standing straight up, then you have stiff peaks and your cream is ready.

Macerated berries

2 cups frozen berry mix
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Combine the mixed berries and sugar in a medium sized bowl and sit out at room temperature for one hour, stirring occasionally.

To plate

Cut the pâte à choux in half horizontally, and fill with cream and top with berries. Finally, add the top piece of pâte à choux.

Cody Fitchett, of Fort Valley, is a recent graduate of Triplett Tech in Shenandoah County. He will start a four-year bachelor’s degree program in baking and pastry at the Culinary institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in February. Email him at chefcodyfitchett@gmail.com