Try this delicious owl creation for your next gathering.
For the choux pastry, heat oven to 190°C. In a saucepan place water, butter, sugar and salt and simmer. Add flour all at once and using a large wooden spoon stir like mad – cook out the flour and moisture. 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to mixing bowl. Low speed – add in eggs one at a time. Scoop into piping bags and pipe as needed. Have some fun with shapes. I made various eye and eye brow shapes, feet and wings. I made a few larger choux balls and smaller ones to help with final construction. Plus a couple for the baby chicks. Bake for 20 minutes – reduce heat to 175 degrees – let the moisture out of the oven. Bake for 10 minutes – stab the bottoms with a thick skewer or a sharp small paring knife and do a quick turn so they open a little – leave them on their sides to continue drying/baking. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes more until deep golden brown. Store in dehydrator until ready to use to avoid going soft and will help dry them more if you accidently under cooked them.
For the crème pat, heat egg yolks with sugar until its pale, thick and creamy – like a ribbon effect. Add in the cornstarch and the salt – set aside. Soak gelatin sheets, then add to 2 tablespoons of boiling hot water and fold into the egg yolk mixture. Meanwhile, warm up the milk. Lower the heat right down and while whisking, slowly stream the egg mixture into the hot milk – keep whisking vigorously to avoid making scrambled eggs! Keep heating until coating back of the spoon and getting thick. At this point I highly recommend using a heat gun – when it gets to 75 to 80 degrees you are done – if it goes higher you risk splitting it. Getting it off the heat and into 3 bowls – mix in the 3 flavors, Marsala and vanilla bean in one, pistachio in another and finally the hazelnut paste with a little liqueur in the final one. Place onto lined baking trays, cling to avoid skinning and fridge until set. Once cool, mix it to texture it in case any lumps form – spoon into prepared piping bags, chill until ready to use. You want them nice and firm so they won’t make your choux soggy when the time comes to start assembly.
For the nougatine, bring sugar, glucose and water to the boil – caramelise – no stirring. Brush down the side with a little water if crystals are forming. I like to keep it on a medium heat for a long time, rather than a high heat as you end up with hot spots and dark on one side etc. Remove from heat, working quickly, add in toasted almonds, salt and butter. Pour onto silpat – let it sit for a few mins until easy to handle. Make a small disk to build the owl on and a smaller one for the divider of the body and the neck to support the head. And them the rest create the nest over a well oiled stainless steel bowl. Remember to cut out a few “feathers” for wings. If the nougatine gets too hard to handle – a quick tip is microwave for 10-15 seconds at a time to soften again to use it more.
For the pistachio, follow the same steps as the nougatine.
For the sesame, follow the same steps as the nougatine and pistachio – remember to make the disks for the eyes and more “feathers”
For the nest, once you have molded the nest and it’s cool and hard you can melt the chocolate – mix in noodles – allow to cool slightly, shape in a well oiled bowl, push in a second well oiled bowl to shape it – chill to set. When using the toffee – spin a little on the outside and inside to help it stay together.
To make the toffee, saucepan, water, then sugar, then corn syrup on top. Make sure all sugar has water on it. Heat until all sugar dissolved, 8-10 minutes to caramelise. Put over a bowl of cold water to stop browning. When like maple syrup – start dipping and attaching. Construct shape of owl.
To assemble – divide choux into 3 even piles – fill each one generously with crème pat – avoid it squishing through holes but also avoid ½ hollow choux. Set aside.
Place “nest” on final presentation plate – with a little toffee, stick the round base plate for the owl to the bottom inside of the nest.
Start to construct the owl with the choux and the toffee – shape it how you like it – remember the feet go on first!!
Make the body rounded and then when it comes up, place the smaller nougartine circle on top for the “neck” to support the building of the head.
Building the head you want it to round out a little again – remember to leave space for the candle eyes, push them in, place the Sesametine ½ rounds over it, (remember you needed a whole in the middle for the light to pop through) and them the eye choux over the top.
Finish with “feathers” for the wings, Sesametine for the beak and then the little chicks the same.
This recipe has not been edited or tested by the Bake Off Food Department
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