Normally at this time of year, I’m getting ready for a restorative Easter weekend with my parents in France.
It’s a nice tradition that we’ve developed. Lunch outside in the sun, evenings in front of the fire with a book and a glass of wine. On Easter Sunday, we visit friends for a big and jolly lunch of early season asparagus and roast lamb.
This year, however, I won’t be there. This is for two very good reasons. Firstly, the house is currently a building site and last time I checked, my bedroom didn’t have a floor.
Secondly, but no less importantly, we’re heading off to California tomorrow for 10 days.
We got the invite to a friend’s wedding in LA shortly after we got back to the UK after our extended visit in the summer. It took us all of two minutes to RSVP in the affirmative. With the benefit of hindsight, jetting off on an expensive jaunt to the other side of the world is not the most sensible thing to do at the moment but I’m pretty sure that once we get there, we won’t care about the practicalities of what we’re leaving behind.
This is all part of the new me. The new me that accepts that change doesn’t have to be scary and that just because something is different, it doesn’t mean that it’s worse. Frankly, when the something different involves sunshine and the beach and ice cream, how can it be worst? So as much as I’m missing the traditions that we’ve build, I’m pretty eager to get on that plane tomorrow and have a very different kind of Easter.
This, though, is my little homage my usual celebrations. All the bakeries in our village have plates of chouquettes piled high of a morning. Tiny little puffs of choux pastry covered in coarse pearl sugar and costing mere pennies. Sometimes I get a little paper bag filled with two or three to enjoy with my morning hot chocolate. I don’t know if they are the leftovers of some choux pastry destined for a more extravagant use or if they are made specially but, for whatever reason they make them, I’m glad they do.
Yield: About 15
Barely adapted from David Lebovitz
I bought my pearl sugar from Ocado; it looks to be a Swedish brand. I’ve not seen it elsewhere but I imagine that any fancy cake decorating stockists may have some. I like the crunch of the sugar with the crispiness of the chouquettes but you don’t have to use it. They’re a little drab without a sprinkle of something though.
- 120ml (1/2 cup) water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon unrefined caster/granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup flour (I used a mix of white and whole grain spelt flour)
- 2 eggs, lightly whisked
- Coarse pearl sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F (fan) and line a baking tray with a silicone mat/non stick paper.
In a small pan, heat the water, salt, sugar and butter over a low heat until everything has melted but don’t allow it to boil.
Take the pan off the heat and add the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon (or electric whisk) until all the flour has been incorporated and you have a fairly solid mass of dough that pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before beating the egg in, bit by bit (you may not need all of it). The goal is to get a smooth paste that you can pipe and it will retain its shape.
Either pipe small amounts of the dough or form a small mound of dough with a teaspoon on the baking tray. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake for 25 – 30 minutes until puffy and golden brown.