What with cronuts, maclairs and other arguably gimmicky – but oh-so-delicious – food hybrids, I fancied seeing what would happen if I deep-fried choux pastry. I had never deep-fried choux pastry before but deep-frying here gives amazing results: these chouxnuts, as they are now known in my house, really do give a terrific doughnut effect.
As is typically the way, I later discovered when surfing the net that deep-frying choux pastry is not an uncommon thing to do, especially in France with beignets…but in my blissful ignorance, I did experience more than a frisson of excitement and pride when I first fried them!!
Anyhow, these particular chouxnuts, which are essentially doughnut-esque gougères, are wonderful bites of indulgent goodness.
I went for savoury this time: small cheese and chive choux, dusted with a little smoked garlic powder. Next, I am going to make a couple more batches: one filled with chocolate & cherry, the other filled with strawberry jam.
Cheese and chive chouxnuts (makes about 30)
- 65ml water
- 55ml full-fat milk
- 50g butter, unsalted, cut into cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- generous pinch of cayenne pepper
- 75g plain flour, sifted
- 2 large eggs, beaten, at room temperature
- 1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 heaped tablespoon chopped chives
- about 2 teaspoons chive flowers, optional
- 60g grated cheese such as Cheddar, Gouda, Parmesan, Gruyère
- smoked garlic powder, optional, for dusting
(1) Heat the water, milk, butter, salt in a saucepan gently until the butter is melted. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil.
(2) Once the water has come to the boil add the flour and mix well until the mixture pulls away from the sides into a smooth ball. Turn down the heat and keep beating for another minute or two. Remove from heat and let it cool for a couple of minutes.
(3) Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. You can use a wooden spoon or a hand-mixer. The paste will look unsightly to begin (slippery and it might seem as if it will not come together) with but with beating it will become smooth.
(4) Add the mustard, cayenne, chives, chive flowers and the cheese and mix in well. You can use it now or else cover with clingfilm and refrigerate – but use within 3 days. The mixture also freezes beautifully.
(5) Deep fry small balls of the choux paste (about a teaspoon or a little less) at 180C for 6-7 minutes until well puffed up and deep golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with a little smoked garlic powder. Serve hot.