Last night, we made two items. The first were gougères, which I have been very excited to make for a while now. I have had gougères a few times before, and they’re awesome. I mean, they’re cheese puffs…it’s a no brainer! They’re also incredibly simple to make, of which I have made mental note. All you do is make your choux paste (easy enough since we’ve spent the last few classes learning this dough), add gruyere cheese and some seasonings, and pipe out little blobs onto your sheet pan. Done! Sadly for you, I didn’t get any pictures of these savory delicacies, but since they taste better than they look, it’s no loss. It’s kind of like the opposite of Nuts 4 Nuts…those things smell amazing, but then you eat them, and they suck. Plus, you totally know the vendor hasn’t washed his hands all day…just sayin’.
But I digress. The second item we made last night was a Gâteau St. Honoré, named for the patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs. Man, they’ve got a saint for everyone, don’t they? As far as this class goes, this cake acts as a precursor to Thursday night, where we make the Croquembouche, a tower of choux balls traditionally served at French weddings. This cake, however, is no slouch and is actually quite complicated to assemble. We had to roll out our pâte brisée, which formed the base. Then, we piped several concentric circles of choux paste. Additionally, we made several choux balls that would ring the cake. After popping those in the oven, we next had to make the cream that would fill the cake, a chiboust. A chiboust is pastry cream with added gelatin and an Italian meringue folded in to lighten. This was our first dabble in Italian meringue, and man was it complicated. It involves cooking sugar to “soft ball” stage, 238 degrees, and then adding it slowly to whipping egg whites. You have to be very careful, since 238 degrees is just a bit hot. Our chiboust thankfully turned out perfectly, thanks to some help from our chefs, and we put our cream in the fridge until we could have time to pipe everything.
When it came time to fill the choux balls and pipe our design in the middle, the cream had liquefied into a gooey mess, and we could barely fill the choux, since the cream was squirting out the sides of the bag. We made due, however, and after making caramel to use as glue to stick the choux to the cake, we spread the cream in the center (instead of piping), and it was fine. It’s not as pretty, but it will still taste wonderful.
Well, that’s it for today. Next class is croquembouche, as I said. That one’s a show-stopper!!