It is thanks to a French colleague of mine I discovered the lovely bakery that is Maitre Choux. Based in Kensington it is a very niche bakery concentrating on choux pastry and they do it very well. My colleague sometimes buy a large bag of lovely chouquettes to share with us in the office for breakfast and they are certainly the best chouquettes I’ve ever had, so when my parents were in town I got us a selection of their amazing (looking and tasting) eclairs.
The flavours are (from top to bottom): salted caramel, raspberry, dark chocolate, salted caramel (again), passionfruit and yuzu, pistachio.
We loved them all but salted caramel was (hardly surprising) my favourite, but I also really enjoyed the passionfruit and yuzu and the raspberry eclairs. I just can’t get over how delicious they are and how pretty they look. They’re in a league of their own.
Maitre Choux, 15 Harrington Road, London SW7 3ES (5 min from South Kensington tube)
This year I introduced a new snack with the New Year’s Eve champagne – these lovely cheese puffs.
They’re made using a regular choux pastry with the addition of grated mature cheese. I made mine two days in advance and heated them up in the oven just before serving to make them crispy again. So either follow my lead or serve them straight away as they do lose the crispiness quite quickly.
The recipe is courtesy of Simon Hopkinsons and it was easy to work with. I made a few adjustments; mainly piping mine out instead of spooning the mixture onto the tray. If piping do use a large nozzle to avoid the grated cheese getting stuck (alternatively grate the cheese very finely). I also made mine smaller so the recipe probably yielded 50 smaller ones (as compared to Simon’s 30 large ones).
Gougères, makes 50
250 ml water
1tsp sea salt
100g plain flour, sifted
150 g grated Gruyère
1/3 nutmeg, grated
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Boil together the water, butter and salt in a roomy pan. Remove from the heat and tip in the flour all in one go.
Whisk together until fully blended and the mixture almost coming away from the sides of the pan in a ball. Leave the mixture for 3-4 minutes to cool just a little, then add the first egg and whisk it in thoroughly.
Add the remaining three eggs one by one, repeating the process (you may not need the fourth egg if the mixture is pipe-able). Tip in the cheese, nutmeg and pepper and, once again, whisk to blend; the cheese may not fully become smooth, but this is just fine.
Line a flat baking tray with baking parchment. Pipe the mixture onto the baking tray about an inch apart.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they are golden and verging on light brown, well puffed and light to the touch when lifted from the tray; undercooked, they will deflate on cooling. Lift the gougères onto a cooling rack, then repeat with the remaining mixture