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Like souffl?s, popovers, and pita breads, choux paste is one of the miracles of the kitchen. You spoon an ordinary-looking batter onto a baking sheet and minutes later youve got a puffed pastry that appears to be threatening flight. This is the stuff of cream puffs, ?clairs, profiteroles, and dreams. Choux paste (choux sounds like "shoe" and means "cabbage" in French) has been around since the sixteenth century and is a must-know dough and a classic among p?tissiers of note. It is a wonderful dough, which would be used more often today if caterers hadnt made p?te ? choux swans a clich?. The dough is unusual in that it is twice-cooked: The mixture is mixed and heated on the stove top and then baked. And it is versatile, as much at home nestling savory mixtures as sweet ones. The ideal choux paste pastry has a light, very tender crust and an almost completely hollow interior, made for filling with anything from ice cream to a rich seafood stew. Once youve mastered the technique, get fanciful and try the savory puffs, the chocolate beignets, or the profiteroles - and variations of your own. See "Puffs, Pointer" in this cook book. This recipe produces a pastry with finesse. The crus of the choux is delicate - not in the least tough, a problem with lesser recipes - and the interior is soft, eggy and almost custardy - in other words, perfect. Put the mild, water, butter, sugar, and salt into a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. At this point, the butter should be fully melted. Still stirring, add the flour all at once, and stir energetically and without stopping until the flour is thoroughly incorporated. Then continue to cook and stir for another 30 to 45 seconds, or until the dough forma a ball and a light crust is visible on the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and scrape the paste into a medium bowl. Immediately, while the dough is still hot, beat in the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula to incorporate each egg before adding the next. The first couple of eggs are the hardest to mix in, but as the mixture loosens, it softens, and smooths, and becomes easier to blend. (If you want, you can beat the eggs in with a mixer - hand-held, or standing with the paddle attachment - just keep the speed low and take care not to beat too much air into the dough.) After youve incorporated 5 eggs, take a good look at the mixture - it might not need the last (6th) egg. Youll know the dough is perfect when, as you lift the wooden spoon, the spoon pulls up some of the dough that then detaches and forms a slowly blending peak. If the doughs too thick and doesnt peak, add the last egg. The dough is now ready to be used in any recipe calling for choux paste. *** IN FACT, IT MUST BE USED NOW, WHILE IT IS STILL WARM. *** Per serving: 33 Calories; 2g Fat (55% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 25mg Cholesterol; 43mg Sodium NOTES : Yield: Makes enough dough for about 60 small puffs or ?clairs. Recipe source: Baking with Julia - Julia Childc Recipe by: Ron West Posted to Bakery-Shoppe Digest by Ron West
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