IT’S CHOUQUETTES O’CLOCK – TIME TO EAT FRENCH CREAM PUFFS

What is the best meal of the day?

If you ask French children (and some adults) the answer will most probably be: “le goûter, of course”. What on earth is le goûter? Well it’s the usually sweet snack every kid gets after school, around 4.30pm. It may be not a meal as such, but try to skip it at your own risk! Most of the time you will be offered a few biscuits, or the traditional baguette stuffed with a bar of chocolate (delicious, by the way).

But now and then you get a treat from the bakery, and what could be nicer than a bag of chouquettes: little cream puffs studded with nib sugar, which you share and then fight to eat the leftover sugar at the bottom of the bag. Turns out making your own isn’t difficult at all, and the lack of decent bakeries in this country (shoot me) meant this was the only way to get my hands on these beauties.

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125ml of water mixed with 125ml of milk

100g butter, diced

A pinch of salt

2 tsp sugar

150g plain flour

4 eggs

Nib sugar, for sprinkling

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1. Preheat your oven to 200°C. Weigh all your ingredients. Everything needs to be ready before you start.

2. Place your milk and water mixture, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

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3. Take off the heat and add the flour all at once, vigorously stirring until it forms a soft ball.

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4. One by one incorporate each egg; you will need strong arm muscles, but you will get there!

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5. Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium-fluted head and pipe little blobs, approximately the size of a walnut, onto a baking tray. Sprinkle generously with the nib sugar.

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7. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until puffed up and golden brown. DO NOT OPEN YOUR OVEN during the first 10 minutes. Once baked, leave your oven door slightly open, heat off, for about 5 minutes; apparently, if you avoid thermal shocks, you a have better chance of keeping your chouquettes from deflating.

8. Leave to cool (if you can resist) before eating. They should be eaten on the same day, but I don’t know anybody who would manage to keep them any longer anyway!

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Photography & styling: Clementine Larvor

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