Why It Works
- Using milk in the choux paste speeds browning, ensuring the small puffs develop good color without over-baking.
- An egg wash helps the pearl sugar adhere.
These bite-size puffs made from choux pastry are topped with lightly crunchy grains of pearl sugar. They make a great snack for anyone with a sweet tooth, or a light dessert to follow a big meal. Wrapped in cellophane plastic bags, they also make nice gifts and stocking stuffers around the holidays. They cook up quickly and easily using our foolproof choux pastry recipe.
For this particular recipe, we prefer using milk instead of water in the choux batter. Water will work as well (don't skip this recipe just because you're low on milk), but milk's additional proteins and sugars provide more rapid browning. That helps with such little choux puffs, ensuring they develop good color in their relatively brief cooking time.
This recipe calls for a 30-minute rest in the cooling oven to offset all the steam still trapped inside when the baking is done. Many recipes call for poking holes in the baked puffs instead, and holes do help, but we've found that the oven rest guarantees the crispest exterior over time (you can, if you're so disposed, poke holes and give the choux puffs an oven rest, though we haven't found this to be necessary for chouquettes).
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 400°F (204°C). Line one aluminum half-sheet tray with parchment paper. Pipe a small amount of choux paste under each corner of parchment paper (the dough acts as a glue and keeps the paper in place as you pipe).
To pipe the puffs, hold the filled pastry bag at a 90° angle, apply steady downward pressure, and pipe a 1-inch wide puff onto tray. To stop piping, cease applying pressure and swirl the pastry tip away. Continue to pipe puffs about 1 inch apart, for a total of about 24 puffs. To smooth the surface of any uneven puffs, dip a finger into cold water and gently pat down any bumps.
Using a pastry brush, gently brush a light layer of egg wash on each mound, being careful not to let excess egg wash drip down onto the parchment.
Sprinkle a generous pinch of pearl sugar on top of each mound, pushing down very gently to ensure it adheres to the surface. Bake until chouquettes are puffed, deeply golden brown, and feel hollow when lifted, about 20 minutes. Turn off oven, crack the door open, and let stand for 30 minutes to allow chouquettes to dry and fully set.
The chouquettes are best eaten within several hours of being baked.
disposable pastry bags
If you don't have a pastry bag and tips, you can make do by transferring the choux paste to a gallon zipper-lock bag and snipping a roughly 1/2-inch hole in one corner of the bag and squeezing the choux mounds out of it.
If you want to make sure that each puff is the right size, you can prepare a template ahead of time. Take one sheet of parchment paper and, using a 1-inch round cutter as a guide, trace circles, then flip paper upside down and set it on the baking sheet.
Pearl sugar, sometimes also sold as nib sugar, are large grains of white sugar that won't melt during baking. They're crisp but airy, creating a pleasing texture that's sweet and crunchy but not hard.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The baked chouquettes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Wrapped tightly in plastic and kept in an airtight container, they can be frozen for up to 1 month. To refresh refrigerated or frozen chouquettes, transfer to a baking sheet and reheat in a 350°F (176°C) oven until crisp, about 5 minutes.