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For the choux pastry, pre-heat the oven to 200 degree C/400 degree F/Gas Mark 6 and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Draw a 30cm circle on the paper, then flip the paper over and place on the tray.
Pour the water into a pan and add the butter, sugar and salt. Bring to the boil slowly and boil for one minute. Add the flour in one go. Cook for a few minutes, beating continuously until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan cleanly and is smooth. Tip out onto a paper lined tray and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
Transfer the cooled mixture into a large bowl or kitchen mixer and beat in the eggs one at a time. Continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and shiny – about 2 more minutes. Spoon the choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle and pipe using swirls and balls/buns. Scatter the flaked almonds over the top of the choux.
Place a heatproof container of water into the oven on the base or bottom shelf to create steam. Bake the choux ring for 20 minutes. Open the oven door, remove the water container, then shut the door, drop the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celsius and continue to bake for another 20 minutes until golden brown and crisp. (The water helps with the steam to start with but you need to remove it to get a nice crispy result. Remove the choux ring from the tray and cool on a wire rack.)
Whip the cream, vanilla bean paste and cognac together. Fill a piping bag with the mixture. Meanwhile, reduce the caster sugar to a caramel over a low heat. Poking a hole in the bottom of each choux ball, pipe each full with cream and then dip in caramel.
Quenelle the cream over using hot spoons. Place the filled choux balls all around the edges.
Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)
Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.
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