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Let us talk about choux baby. Let us talk about the hardest pastry to make in the in-dus-try. Despite its mean reputation, it is the magic of eggs, flour, butter and milk that make choux pastry one of the most versatile pastries of all time. Think eclairs, profiteroles, Paris brests, gougeres and the show stopping croquembouche – every one of these delicious pastries are made with choux.
Considering that most of us grew up eating eclairs from our neighbourhood bakeries (Rainbow Bakery at SDA market for me), these bad boys have a special place in our hearts. These fresh cream-filled tubular pastry topped with chocolate ganache were the highlight of after school treats.
Fast forward 2017, the choux is getting a makeover. It is not just the Wengers and Nathus which are still going strong with their eclairs, but boutique bakeries too are now taking this pastry way more seriously.
Take Bani Nanda’s Miam in Hauz Khas Market for example. She makes a mean Vanilla Choux Crumble that she fills with vanilla crème legere – half pastry cream and half whipped cream and serves an almond crumble at the bottom. Or Sahil Mehta’s Cravity, where the Paris Brest (pronounced Paaree Brest) is filled with praline cream and is just the perfect dessert to be paired with a cup of coffee.
At Yauatcha, their Religieuse – a tiny tower of two profiteroles filled with chocolate hazelnut cream and served with a hazelnut ice cream – is one of the fastest selling desserts from their menu.
L’Opera was, of course, the first bakery chain to give the éclair a transformation by filling their choux with coffee crème or chocolate cream and then introducing a salted caramel cream that just changed the way an éclair was meant to taste.
It is at Sakley’s The Mountain Café in GK 1 and Gurugram that size does matter. Their one-foot long classic éclair is what people hanker after. Filled with plain old fashioned sweetened whipped cream, this giant pastry is best for sharing. While at Sibang, the Korean bakery in Gurugram it is also the simple éclair that has everyone wanting one.
But it is The Big Chill Cakery that has been the game changer. Show up at 10 pm on any night for their cream-filled or chocolate-filled eclairs and you will be told it has been sold out. This bigger-than-average éclair is crisp on the outside and remains that way for two whole days. Plus, that fresh tasting cream is so light and cloudy that each mouthful is a delight.
The only anomaly to the sweet use of choux is at QLA at Mehrauli where they make the most amazing gougeres – a savoury pastry which includes plenty of cheese in the batter and bakes up to make the most delicious cheesy and light bread. These gougeres are served normally mid meal at the chef’s tasting menu and are the best bread accompaniment to that meal.