Learn how to make choux pastry from scratch, from David Higgs, by making his next-level white chocolate éclairs.
- For the choux pastry:
- 200 g butter
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup water
- 340 g flour
- 8 large free-range eggs
- a pinch of salt if you use unsalted butter
- For the crème pâtissière:
- 2 cups milk
- 1 t vanilla paste
- 1 orange, zested
- 125 g sugar
- 80 g flour
- 6 free-range egg yolks
- For the honeycomb:
- 200 g caster sugar
- 100 g honey
- 2 t bicarbonate of soda
- 200 g Woolworths white chocolate drops, melted according to package instructions, for serving
- pistachios, roughly chopped for serving
1. To make the choux pastry, combine the butter, milk and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the flour and stir continuously for about 5 minutes. When you see a thin layer of flour sticking to the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat.
2. Place the dough on a wooden board and spread it out so it can cool down evenly. Once the dough has cooled to the touch, place it in the bowl of a stand mixer, then incorporate the eggs one at a time using the beater. You’re looking for a smooth, glossy, thick dough that can hold its shape. Put the dough into a piping bag fitted with a plain round nozzle.
3. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and evenly pipe the choux pastry onto the tray. Try and pipe them consistently as they need to bake evenly. You could pipe them smaller (enough for about 3 bites or larger depending on what you prefer). Bake for 35–40 minutes until the shell is golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
4. To make the crème pâtissier, combine the milk, vanilla and orange zest in a saucepan and simmer to infuse the flavours. Remove from the heat just as it comes to the boil; don’t allow to boil. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour and egg yolks. Temper the eggs by combining a splash of the milk mixture with the egg mixture a little at a time, then return the mixture to the saucepan and whisk until smooth and thick. Remove from the saucepan and cool, then transfer into a piping bag fitted with an open star nozzle.
5. To make the honeycomb, line a large tray with baking paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the sugar and honey in a saucepan, then place over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves and begins to caramelise. The sugar should be a hard-ball stage, which means that if you drop a bit of the sugar into some cold water with a spoon it should become firm and hard.
6. Add the bicarbonate of soda and whisk until well combined, then pour into the prepared tray. Allow to set at room temperature in a dry place. Once the honeycomb has set, crumble it into bite-sized pieces.
7. To serve, cut the choux buns in half horizontally, then pipe the crème patissiere onto the bottom half of the bun. Add the honeycomb, coat the top half of the bun in the melted white chocolate, sprinkle over the pistachios, then allow the chocolate to set. Place the white chocolate top onto the bottom half of the bun to serve.
Chef's note: Blanch the pistachios, then peel off the skins. They will be bright green.
Choux should be light and crisp. You can prepare the choux pastry shells days before your event. If they shells soften, pop them in the oven to crisp up. Remember to let them cool before you fill them.
Videography: Fred Wollner, John Taylor
Still photograph: Jan Ras
Location styling: Taryne Jakobi