A promise is a promise. Remember I said I’d make my own homemade knits, posting Auntie Shirley’s knitted cakes and felt macarons? I looked for bright holiday woollens for inspiration but since I’m hopeless at knitting, I found a fun solution. I cheated! No knitting needles were used in the making of them.
There’s a wee story behind it. Let’s rewind to early last year.
A friend-of-a-friend popped round for coffee, eager to catch up. All too quickly I realised her ‘news’. She had become a sales rep for Flexipan products. As if by magic, she happened to have all the catalogues on her. And the order forms. Did you know she got such a super commission on every sale, too? Suddenly, I was introduced to the world of everything served in fancy molds, s’il vous plaît. Quoi? I make macarons and don’t use a silicon mat? Well, when you make macarons, there’s no need for silicon mats; just simple, greaseproof baking paper. OK, you can see from the photos I did give in and bought the mat. I use them for choux buns and chouquettes, not macarons. I discovered that if you use a silicone mat when making macarons, it’s not that easy to tell if they’re cooked enough.
Having a good glance around while the kettle was on, she could tell straight away what a sucker I was for gadgets and fun kitchen toys. There was just one wee problem she had: I saw the mold prices. You see, if you’re approaching a budget-conscious Scot who’s become stubborn over the years (being married to a Corsican has now rubbed off on me, too), then filling in her motivational order form isn’t as easy as that. So she tried another angle.
She brought out a wonderful book demonstrating Flexipan molds, Les mignardises de Christophe: Leçons de pâtisserie by Christophe Felder. It’s true: each recipe with its step-by-step and beautiful presentations had me sold. I needed it desperately. Except for one recipe that didn’t use any mold and had me in stitches: Choux tricotés (knitted choux.) I mean, who would want to eat these?
Chouquettes are simply choux buns topped with pearl sugar with no filling and are smaller than choux buns. They’re just light, airy and the sugar on the top gives it that crunch. The children adore them at goûter time after school. So Christophe’s recipe is brilliant: why not colour the sugar and cover them completely like this? I bought the book, too. They really do look like they’re knitted. And the colours? Well, yes, they are vibrant but it is festive season, n’est-ce pas?
It wasn’t just the children that loved them (they adored helping out, too.) We ended up making a second batch in the week – just to use up the extra sugar coating, plus try out pistachio flavouring this time from my macaron essences/flavouring secret cupboard. Och, who needs excuses? They were simply bloomin’ good.
Recipe: Knitted Chouquettes
Adapted from Christophe Felder’s Choux tricotés, from Les Mignardises de Christophe. I still had a lot of topping left over but discovered the uncooked covering keeps in the fridge for a few days directly in its greaseproof paper. I also added some flavouring to the sugar topping for some extra fun: strawberry, almond, rose, pistachio – you could adapt to your own taste.
Ingredients for the sugar topping
50g butter, softened
60g caster sugar (or brown sugar)
60g plain flour
few drops of liquid colouring (I used powdered which still worked well, as that’s all I use for macarons)
few drops of almond essence (or any other flavouring, to taste)
Follow the classic recipe and instructions for Choux Buns from my earlier post,
Choux Buns, Passionfruit Caramel and a Choux-Choux!
1. Cream the butter using a whisk. Gradually mix in the sugar then the flour until you have a good paste.
2. Separate the mix into separate bowls for each colour. I made only two colours, but you can do as many as you fancy. Add a few drops of food colouring and mix well.
3. Place the mix between two sheets of non-stick baking paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the mix until you have a rectangle of about 2-3mm thinkness. Place in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the mini choux buns.
5. There’s no need to coat each choux with egg yolk, just place a small square of the coloured sugar topping on each choux and bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 20-25 minutes.
OK. I cheated without the knitting needles but this was so much fun. Next time I’ll use slightly less colouring and make sweety pink rose ones for the girls, or orange and lemon chouquettes? I’m sure you can come up with all sorts of flavours. Gosh, these are about as fun as macarons!