Shhh, I have a secret..... I fell in love in Paris. But not with my husband. I fell in love with pastries. Perfect little pastries. From the first time I set foot into a Laduree patisserie parlour I knew I was somewhere special. I'd never seen so many gorgeous and unique pastries before, they were like little works of art. But there was one that immediately stood out - a pretty double stacked pink cream puff lined with white ruffles leading up to a silver pearl at the top. It was a thing of beauty. Sadly I never did get to try one that trip because I blew my budget on a box of their signature macarons.
When I got home from Paris I immediately took to Google and discovered that the pretty pink pastry I saw at Laduree was called a religieuse, and was named so because the pastry is said to look like a nuns habit (headpiece).
To this day I've never fallen out of love with the religieuse, and have always wanted to try and make my own. So in preparation for Valentines Day I decided to celebrate love by recreating the religieuse from Laduree. And I kid you not, these were probably the most tastiest things I've ever made. They were to die for, and just as good as the ones from Laduree (which I've had on subsequent trips to Laduree.)
Choux pastry provides the base for the religiuese, which also happens to be the same pastry that is used for profiteroles and eclaires so it's a great recipe to have on hand. This recipe comes from the Laduree Sucre recipe book, so it's as authentic as it'll get.
This was the first time I'd made choux pastry before so I made sure to follow the recipe exactly as described in the book. But to my dismay my choux buns didn't puff up like they should have. They looked more like English Yorkshire puddings than they did choux buns. What had I done wrong? The recipe was very easy to follow and choux pastry is simple to make so I tried again, making sure to follow the instructions very carefully. The recipe states to bake the choux pastry for about 10 minutes until they have fully puffed up, and then open the oven door a crack to let the steam escape, and cook for another 20 minutes. I carefully watched my second batch of choux pastry through the oven door and they looked great. I could see them puffing up nicely, so at the 10 minute mark I opened the door a crack. I immediately watched my choux buns defate before my eyes. How disappointing!
One thing that stood out while I was piping my choux batter onto my baking sheets was that it seemed a lot thinner than I imagined it would be. I decided to try the recipe one last time, but this time I used one less egg in order to make the batter slightly thicker. I also increased the oven temperature and left the door closed the entire time. Success! My choux buns came out perfectly.
A few days later I got talking to my friend Sarah from the blog Maison Cupcake and she thought my failed choux pastry attempts may have been down to the fact that I was using a fan oven. I can't say for certain if it was the fan that was effecting my first two batches of choux pastry or if it was the consistency of the batter, so I'm going to include the original Laduree recipe as well as my adaptations in pink so you can decide on which one you want to try.
These religieuse might look difficult to make, but they're really not. So go on, and try making them for your special Valentine!
Valentines Day Religiuese
The recipes below are from Laduree Sucre, and have been adapted to make the religiuese.
Adaptations are shown in pink.
1 Vanilla Bean *I used 1 Tbsp Vanilla Paste
1 2/3 Cups (400ml) Whole Milk
4 Egg Yolks
1/2 Cup - 1 Tbsp (80g) Castor Sugar
1/4 Cup (30g) Cornstarch
1 Tbsp (25g) Butter
*300ml double cream, whipped
1. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds. Pour the milk in a saucepan and add the vanilla pod and seeds *or vanilla paste. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, and cover immediately. Allow to infuse for 15 minutes.
2. In a large bowl whisk the egg yolk and sugar until slightly pale. Incorporate the cornstarch.
3. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk, and bring to a simmer. Pour 1/3 of the milk over the egg yolk mixture (to temper the egg yolks) , and whisk together. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly with a whisk, until thickened.
4. Remove the creme patisserie from the heat and pour into a clean bowl. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then incorporate the butter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool and set.
5. Although the creme patissiere was delicious, I found it a bit too rich and heavy. I had some double cream in the fridge, so I decided to whip it up and fold it into my chilled creme patissiere just to lighten it up a bit. I'm so glad I did because the mixture of the whipped cream and the creme patissiere was absolutely delicious!
1 Cup - 1/2 Tbsp (120g) Cake Flour *I used plain all purpose flour
1/2 Cup - 1 Tbsp (100ml) Whole Milk
1/2 Cup - 1 Tbsp (100ml) Water
1 Tbsp (10g) Caster Sugar
1 pinch salt
5 1/2 Tbsp (80g) Unsalted Butter
4 Eggs *I used 3
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC) *I baked mine at 200ºC. Sift the flour, sugar and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan add the butter, milk and water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, and dump the flour mixture into the liquid. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula until it forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pot. Set aside and allow to cool.
2. Add in the eggs one at a time, stirring until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. *Here I judged the consistency after adding each egg and decided to only use 3
3. Transfer batter into a piping bag, and pipe into desired shape. *To make the religiuese you will need to pipe an equal number of small and large circles on your baking sheet.
4. Bake in pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes. When they have started to puff up, open the door very slightly (about 1/8 inch) to allow the steam to escape. Continue to bake the choux pastry for a further 20 - 30 minutes with the door slightly ajar, until the choux buns are golden. *I baked my choux pastry at 200ºC for 25 minutes, and did not open the door.
5. Remove the golden choux pastry buns from the oven immediately and pierce them with a sharp knife or skewer to allow for the steam to escape. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
3oz (80g) White Chocolate, melted
4oz (120g) White Pouring Fondant *I used the Silver Spoon powdered version that you mix with water
Drop of pink food colouring
1. In a small bowl (wide enough to dip your chox buns in) prepare the liquid fondant according to the directions on the package. Pour the melted white chocolate into the liquid fondant mixture and stir until fully combined. Add a tiny drop of pink food colouring, and stir until evenly blended.
In addition to the above recipes, you'll also need:
* Silver dragees
* A small amount of buttercreme, or leftover creme patissiere
1. To fill the choux buns, transfer the creme patissiere into a piping bag fitted with a medium plain tipped nozzle. Insert the nozzle into the hole in the bottom of the choux bun that you made after they came out of the oven. Gently squeeze the piping bag so that the creme patissiere fills the cavity of the choux bun. Repeat until all choux buns are filled. *Do not over fill
2. Prepare the fondant topping according to the directions above. Dip the top half of the smaller choux buns into the coloured fondant, gently tapping off any excess. Add a silver dragee on top, and place the choux buns on a baking sheet or wire rack to allow the fondant to set. These will become the tops of your religiuese.
3. Dip the top halves of the larger choux buns into the coloured fondant, gently tapping off any excess. Let them sit for a minute or two before gently placing the smaller choux bun on top. Hold the top choux bun in place for a few moments to ensure it stays put. Repeat until all of the religiuese are assembled.
4. Fit a piping bag with a small star tipped nozzle, and fill with a small amount of buttercream or leftover creme patissiere. Starting with the bottom choux bun, pipe a line of buttercream that stretches to fondant covering of the top choux bun.
5. Refrigerate until ready to serve. *The religiuese will keep in the fridge for up to two days.
I'm also submitting my Valentine's Religiuese to a blogger link ups / challenges this month: Homemade by Fleur's virtual tea for two Valentine's Bake Off, as well as this month's Tea Time Treats link challenge (Perfect Puddings) hosted by What Kate Baked , and finally the Calendar Cakes challenge hosted by Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cake.