The noble intentions of devious mothers

The noble intentions of devious mothers

It’s very early on a Sunday morning and my thoughts are about what I can make for my family for the promised afternoon tea. I want something easy and uncomplicated; that won’t take a whole day to prepare.
But it also has to be something I know they will love, of course. I look out of the window and see the snow-capped mountains in the distance and know why everything is so cold – the floor, my bones. All I want to do is lie in for as long as I can. I suddenly get a thought that I know will keep me under the warm covers longer and make my youngest son rise to the challenge I’m about to set before him. I call him and praise him for the amazing crème brulée he made for a dinner party he was hosting for his friends the night before. In fact his friends were so impressed they tweeted pictures of themselves to me and were full of praise. He does make a real fine crème brulée, if I may say so myself.
While his feathers were all fluffed up with pride, I said he should increase his repertoire and make something different for the next dinner party he was giving. His answer: “I would rather stick with something I do well.” My answer to that was a little practice makes perfect, so why doesn’t he try this fabulous step by step recipe for Chouxnuts. “Your guests will love them, and you can practice them on me this afternoon,” I added. Afternoon tea turned out a great success, I got to lie in and he learnt something new. So happy endings all around.

Let’s cook!

Chouxnuts dipped in chocolate icing
Makes 10

Ingredients for the Chouxnuts:

  • 120g butter
  • 1 cup/ 250ml water
  • 140g Sasko Cake Flour
  • 4 large eggs (at room temperature)

Ingredients for the cream filling:

  • 500ml cream
  • 3tbsp smooth peanut butter or 3tbsp chocolate hazelnut spread

Ingredients for chocolate icing:

  • 80g dark chocolate (chopped)
  • 60ml milk
  • ½ cup icing sugar

Step 1: Preheat oven to 200C and grease and line 2 baking trays.
Step 2: Sift the flour.
Step 3: Put the water and butter into a saucepan on medium heat and once the butter has melted and the water is just boiling, add the flour in one shot.
Step 4: Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon for about 2-3 minutes until the pastry comes away from the sides and forms a ball.
Step 5: Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. (The choux needs to be cool enough to touch with your naked hand.)
Step 6: Add the eggs, one at a time, beating with the spoon/electric beaters until completely incorporated – the choux should now be sticky and rich but should still be able to hold its shape.
Step 7: Using a piping bag and large nozzle, create 10 equally sized circles of choux on the baking trays, with at least 4cm between each of them, as they will double in size.
Step 8: Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and crisp. (Timing will depend on the size.)
Step 9: When you take them out of the oven, remove from the baking paper and prick each of the Chouxnuts with a skewer/knife to release any excess steam and allow to cool on a wire cooling wrack.

Once the Chouxnuts have cooled completely:
Step 1: Whip the cream until stiff peaks form then add the flavouring of your choice (peanut butter/chocolate spread/chocolate hazelnut spread) and fold through until incorporated.
Step 2: Make two holes, opposite one another, on the underside of each chouxnut.
Step 3: Spoon the cream into a large piping bag and pipe enough cream into each hole to fill the chouxnut.

For the icing:
Step 1: Heat the milk in a bowl in the microwave then add the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted (if it doesn’t melt completely at first, pop it back into the microwave on lowest heat for 10-15 seconds, stir and repeat as necessary until it has melted completely).
Step 2: Add the sifted icing sugar and whisk until you have a smooth chocolate icing.
Step 3: Dip the top half of each of the chouxnuts into the chocolate icing, as you would with a doughnut, and allow to dry completely on the wire rack before serving.

Tip 1: It is important to use the correct size egg – this recipe calls for 4 large eggs but if you only have extra-large eggs you will need to use 3 ½ eggs.

Tip 2: If your choux buns are browning too quickly at 15 minutes turn the oven temperature down to 180C for the remaining cooking time – oven temperatures differ and often the temperature displayed is a little higher or lower than the actual temperature.

Tip 3: Make sure to peal your chouxnuts off the baking paper immediately after bringing them out of the oven as they can stick to the paper if you leave them on – if this happens, put them back in the oven for a minute or two and they should come off easily.