I promise I would share my travels and adventures as soon as I sort out the thousand of photos that I have snapped along the way.
Enough of Italy for now, I’m going to share with you a French dessert that I made before I left for Italy, La Religieuse. La Religieuse is French for “the nun” because the dessert is said to look like nuns with their habits (headpieces).
This dainty dessert is made up of two choux pastries, with the smaller one stacked on top of the big one, and is filled with pastry cream before they are iced.
I made mine with lavender infused pastry cream and glazed it with a violet icing. Unfortunately, I do think that mine don’t leave up to the glory that they ought to have. My icing was on the runny side so it does not have a neat finish.
Fortunately (and thankfully), they taste wonderful. The lavender laced pastry cream hit all the right notes – floral but not overpowering and it goes hand in hand with the lavender shade icing.
For the choux pastry
You can refer to my previous post for a detailed guide to making choux pastry
50ml full cream milk
75g unsalted butter
1 heap tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
110g plain flour
for the egg wash: (or use your preferred egg wash)
1 egg yolk
dash of full cream milk
pinch of salt
1. Prepare trays for baking the choux by greasing it with butter so that they would not stick on the tray.
2. Place water, milk, butter, sugar and salt into a pot and bring it to a rolling boil. It should be bubbling furiously.
3. Remove the pot from the heat or turn down the heat and pour in all the flour at once and stir immediately and vigorously with a wooden spoon/spatula. Ensure that there is no lumps of flour in the *panade. Cook out the mixture over low heat for another 2-3 minutes. You should have a glossy panade that can be formed into a ball that comes away from the sides of the pot easily.
4.Remove the panade and place it into your machine mixer bowl. Using a paddle attachment, put the machine on low speed in order to cool the panade down for about 5 minutes. You wouldn’t want to add in the eggs when the panade is still hot. You may end up cooking the eggs.
5. When the panade is not hot to touch, with the paddle attachment still on, start adding the eggs one at a time at medium speed (speed 4 on the Kitchenaid mixer). The mixture may look like it has cuddled and split at first but be patient and allow the machine to do its job to emulsify the mixture. It will come back together in a while.
6. Continue adding the eggs until you get a smooth, thick, glossy paste. When you lift up your spatula, it should fall after roughly 3 seconds. It should be able to fall from the spatula on its own but not be too wet that it can’t hold its shape. You may/may not require the entire amount of eggs as stated in the recipe (or you may need slightly more eggs), depending on the consistency of the choux paste.
7. Place choux paste into a piping bag with a 1 cm plain nozzle/star shaped nozzle. Pipe them as evenly as you can – one tray of small choux for the tops (about 2.5 cm in diameter) and one tray of large choux for the bottoms (about 3.5 cm or up to 4 cm, as minne are quite small).
8. Egg wash the choux pastry with a brush and at the same time flatten down the little tips. This is to ensure that the tips do not burn.
9. Bake immediately at 180 degrees celcius in a pre-heated oven for about 25-30 mintues for the small ones, 30-35 minutes for the bigger ones.
10. You can check if the choux pastry shells are properly baked by removing a shell from the oven and tear it apart to see if the entire choux is dry. Only remove the entire batch when they are dry.
11. Fill these choux pastry with the lavender crème patisserrie only after they have cooled completely.
Lavender crème patisserie (lavender pastry cream)
250ml full cream milk
2 tsp culinary grade lavender buds
1/4 vanilla bean, scrapped
50g egg yolks
50g caster sugar
30g cornflour, sifted
18g butter, cut into cubes
- Start by warming the milk (to about 45 degrees celcius) and infuse the lavender buds in the warm milk. Set aside for about 20-30 minutes while you prepare and measure all the ingredients before you start.
- Strain out the lavender buds from the milk. Place scrapped vanilla bean with the lavender infused milk into a medium size pot (big enough for all the ingredients).
- In the meantime, whisk egg yolks with sugar in a separate bowl until well-combined before adding the cornflour. Whisk till mixture is uniform.
- When the milk boils, you will see the milk in the pot start to bubble. Take the milk off the heat and pour it into your egg mixture. At this point, whisk quickly to incorporate the milk mixture.
- Pour the milk and egg mixture back into pot (under low heat) and whisk continuously (as if your life depends on it!) This step is crucial to prevent lumps from forming in the crème patisserie.
- Ensure that you whisk under low to medium heat until a smooth, thickened paste. Allow the crème patisserie to cook for at least 2-3 minutes before taking it off the heat. You should see one or two large bubbles forming. That is an indication that the pastry cream is done.
- Whisk in the cubed butter until well-combined.
- Transfer the pastry cream, using a scrapper, onto a tray lined with cling wrap. Cling wrap the pastry cream. Cool it down in the fridge before using it.
- Before using the pastry cream, transfer it into a bowl and whisk it up until smooth and lump-free.
Icing: ( I do this by eye)
300g icing/confectioner’s sugar, sifted
a few tbsp of warm water (adjust until you have the right consistency)
lavender purple food colour paste (optional)
1. Add water to the icing sugar, a tablespoon at a time and stir until sugar has dissolved. 2. Add the food colouring and more water until you obtain a good consistency. It shouldnt be too thick that you cannot dip the choux pastry but not too runny that the icing will dribble off. Mine was on the runny side.
1. Pair up the small choux puffs with the larger ones.
2. Poke a hole in the base of the choux pastry. Then fill them with the pastry cream using a piping bag and a small plain nozzle.
3. Dip the tops of the choux pastry in icing and let the excess icing drip off, then set aside to dry before you assemble them by pressing the small choux gently on top of the big choux (and using some icing as glue to help them stick). Top it with silver/golden dragées if you like.
4. Pipe lines (it will be easier to pipe it starting from bottom to top) around the bottom of the smaller choux using a small star shaped nozzle. Leave aside to dry completely before eating.
*Tip: you can bake the choux pastry the day before and refresh them by heating them up at 180 degrees celcius the next day.
It will be best to eat the La religieuese on the day you assemble them.