Easter chick choux buns
This was another idea that I literally needed to bake out of my head: choux bun ‘eggs’ encasing fluffy yellow ‘chicks’.
I’ve made my fair share of choux buns in the past, but I’d never made them with the craquelin on top that’s so beloved of Bake Off the Professionals contestants. It seemed like an extra layer of unnecessary faffery, but having tried it once, I’m now a complete convert. Not only do your buns rise more evenly and stay more crisp once filled; it actually makes the pastry itself a delicious element to eat, rather than just a vehicle for the filling and toppings.
The craquelin is basically a thin layer of American-style cookie dough which melts around the ballooning choux buns as they cook. It’s just equal quantities of sugar, butter and flour creamed together, so it’s quick and easy to make. There’s a fool-proof tutorial on Serious Eats which works brilliantly with their equally perfect choux bun recipe. It’s so good, I’m not even going to attempt to adapt it into my own recipe – just go to their website and use theirs!
As this is an Easter dessert, it seemed appropriate to choose passion fruit as my main filling flavour, as the etymology of the name is linked to the Passion of Christ story. I love the combination of passion fruit and dark chocolate, so that was an obvious supporting flavour – it is Easter after all! – though it’s important to get the ratios right so that the chocolate doesn’t take over.
I had some homemade passion fruit curd in the fridge, so I lightened it with a bit of whipped cream to make an easy mousse-like filling. I then made a chocolate water ganache to sit underneath it. The ganache sets semi-solid and has the added bonus of stopping the bottom of the buns from going soggy. The eyes are passion fruit seeds, which I saved when I made the curd, though you could use chocolate drops if you wanted to use a jar of shop-bought passion fruit curd instead. The finishing touch is a beak made out of candied peel.
My advice is to bake all of the buns in one go, but only fill the ones you intend to eat that day. Put the rest in a zip lock bag in the freezer, even if you’re only going to serve them the next day. Next time you need a choux fix, pop the frozen choux in a 160C (fan) oven for 5 minutes, then cool before filling.
Chocolate + passion fruit Easter chick choux buns
- 18 choux au craquelin
- 30 g muscovado sugar
- 45 ml water
- 100 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
- 200 g double cream
- 300 g passion fruit curd (recipe below or buy a jar)
- 36 passion fruit seeds or mini chocolate chips
- 18 pieces candied peel
- When your choux buns have completely cooled, use a sharp paring knife to cut off the tops in a zig-zag.
- To make the ganache, put the sugar and water in a very small saucepan. Stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves, then heat until it starts to simmer. Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl, then pour over the hot syrup. Wait for 30 seconds, then stir it slowly with a fork until the chocolate melts and emulsifies with the syrup to form a smooth ganache.
- Spread about a teaspoon of ganache onto the bottom half of each choux bun while it’s still warm.
- Whip the cream until it starts to thicken, then add 300 g passion fruit curd. Continue to whip until it holds its shape, then transfer it to a large piping bag, fitted with a plain nozzle.
- Holding the piping bag vertically, pipe a mound of passionfruit mousse onto the ganache for each chick’s body. Pipe a second smaller mound on top for the head. Holding the piping bag horizontally, pipe a wing on each side.
- Add seeds or chocolate chips for the eyes and candied peel for the beaks, then rest the other half of each choux bun on top.
Passion fruit curd
Makes about 350 g
- 90 ml seedless passion fruit pulp (from about 6 sieved passion fruits)
- 125 g caster sugar
- 75 g butter
- 200 g egg (about 3 large)
- Put all the ingredients in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir with a whisk until the butter melts, then continue to stir until the mixture thickens like custard (around 10 minutes). Alternatively, if you have a Thermomix, cook 7 minutes / 80C / speed 4.
- Scrape the curd into a sterilised jar, put on the lid and leave to cool completely before refrigerating. You can do this a couple of days in advance – any leftover curd is delicious on toast or used to fill sandwich cakes.