Happy World Nutella Day everyone! A dream day for me, a day with and excuse to eat all the Nutella goodness my heart could desire – heaven! This recipe is for little puffs of delicate choux pastry filled with a thick spread of Nutella, and a rich Nutella creme patissiere. Delicious little Nutella bites, perfect to celebrate my favourite chocolate spread!
They’re incredibly inviting to look at. Crispy pastry, covered in dark chocolate, Nutella cream spilling out. They’re even better to bite through. Starting with the crisp crack of the pastry shell, into rich Nutella filling and then the gooey satisfaction of the pure Nutella.
I first learnt to make choux pastry when I was small, standing at my Grandma’s elbow. Normally its the savoury dishes that stay in my mind from my Grandma’s kitchen. German born, her dishes are warm and hearty. The smell of vinegar, first smelt as you lifted the latch on the iron work gate at the end of the drive, is a smell of home for me. Tasty meat, rolled in cabbage leafs, thick lentil soup, brimming with salty bacon and spiced sausage, liverwurst spread thickly onto bread.
There were, however a few sweet dishes too. In true German style Grandma’s puddings are rich and creamy. Dense decadent cheesecakes, sweet cream horns glistening with sugar crystals, gateaux dripping in dark cherry syrup. And cream filled choux pastry buns.
Standing in Grandma’s kitchen I learnt to beat in the flour until it was a stiff, glossy ball, then slowly, slowly, beat in the egg. Small arms tired and burning, handing over the wooden spoon for Grandma to take over. Watching her carefully pipe the dough, waiting for them to emerge, puffed up and golden from the oven.
Its years since I’ve made choux, and it had become a rather scary notion to me. I tried several recipe that didn’t work. Sloppy, un-pipeable messes. Curdled eggy soups. But then I found a recipe that works for me and, to my surprise, its easy. The same simple pastry that that little girl helped Grandma to make all those years ago.
The satisfaction upon taking them from the oven is like no other. Tentatively opening the oven, not knowing if they’ve risen. Finding them golden and crisp. Slice them open and let a cloud of steam hiss out from the hollow inside with its beautiful, delicate open texture.
This recipe uses two potentially scary techniques, choux pastry and creme patissiere. Don’t worry though, neither of them are really scary at all, just read everything through and have the process fixed in your head before you get going.
The key to the choux pastry is to have everything ready to hand, and to really put some elbow grease into the beating. At first when you beat in the flour it will seem loose and watery, you can’t imagine how it will every come together, but then the flour blends in and stiffens. The buttery yellow dough pulls away from the pan.
While its still hot beat in the eggs. Slowly, slowly, adding just a little at a time. Beat it as hard as you can. When its ready it will be thick and smooth and glossy. Perfect for piping. As soon as they come from the oven cut a slit into the side of each bun to let the steam out. This is important, it stops them from going soggy and keeps that beautiful crisp texture.
Will you be marking World Nutella Day today?
Don’t forget to come back on Saturday for one last new Nutella recipe!
– When you think the choux pastry is ready remove one from the oven and slice it in half. If the insides are mostly dried out (a little bit of tender dough is ok) take them all from the oven. If the insides are wet or look eggy, keep them all in the oven a little longer and then test another bun.
– The key to the creme pat is to slowly whisk half the hot milk into the egg mixture before returning to the hot milk pan. This will stop the eggs from scrambling.
Nutella Cream Puffs
(makes 12 small buns)
for the choux pastry buns
(pastry recipe from Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds)
50g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
1 teaspoon caster sugar
pinch of salt
65g strong white bread flour
2 medium eggs, beaten
80g dark chocolate
for the Nutella filling
4 medium egg yolks
65g caster sugar
15g plain flour
3 tablespoons Nutella (plus 2 additional tablespoons of Nutella to spread directly into the buns)
Preheat the oven to 190C / 170C fan / 375F.
Line a baking sheet with greaseproof or parchment paper.
Start by making the choux pastry.
Weigh out all your ingredients and have them ready to use.
Put the butter, sugar, salt and water into a large pan. A heavy pan is best as it will make it easier when it comes to beating the mixture.
Heat until all the butter has melted, then bring to the boil. As soon as the water is boiling, take it off the heat and add in the flour. Beat until all the flour has been absorbed into the water and the dough forms a ball that comes away from the sides of the pan.
Slowly start to beat in your eggs, adding a little at a time. Beat as hard as you can to incorporate the eggs. If the mixture starts to become loose stop adding egg, but you should use most or all of it.
Immediately spoon the dough into a piping bag and pipe 12 small buns onto your baking sheet. Leave plenty of space between each bun, this will allow room to rise, and ensure they all crisp up nicely.
As soon as you take them from the oven cut a slit in the side of each bun and ease them open a little to let out the steam. Cool completely on a wire rack. Once they are cool, heat the dark chocolate in a double boiler, and dip the top of each bun in the melted chocolate. Allow the chocolate to set completely.
Meanwhile, make your Creme Patissiere.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and golden. Whisk in the flour and cornflour. Set aside.
Heat the milk until boiling and simmer for a few minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove from the heat and leave to sit for 30 seconds.
Slowly pour half of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.
Slowly pour the egg mixture back into the rest of the milk. Bring to the boil again, whisking continuously and allow to simmer for about a minute until thick and smooth.
Transfer to a clean bowl and sprinkle with icing sugar to prevent a skin forming. Place the bowl into another bowl of iced water to help the creme pat cool as quickly as possible. Once cool, whisk with electric beaters, add the Nutella and whisk until fully combined.
Carefully slice each choux bun open. There are two ways you can do this. Either cut just over half way through and open gently like a hinge, or slice the top of completely to make a lid. Spread the bottom of the inside of each bun with Nutella, then pipe in the Nutella creme patissiere. Don’t be tempted to over fill them of the creme will spill out everywhere!
Best eaten immediately.