Vegan choux and Courtesan Au Chocolat

by - August 05, 2015

Excuse the shoddy icing and piping work I was too excited and it was too hot and icing was everywhere (mostly in my mouth) 
I think, looking back at it, I used to request demand cream puffs three times a week when I was younger. Minimum. My favourite thing to buy in delifrance were the little chouquettes, studded with the little beads of pearl sugar (uh yum?). And in any cafe that had em: éclairs stuffed full of coffee crème patissière and just smothered in tempered chocolate.

I was a child who loved my choux pastry.

When I gave up dairy and eggs, choux just fell amongst the things I didn't let myself think about. I was sad. No choux. No meringues. No macarons.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't regret giving up animal products. Not at all. I just assumed (and psst! wrongly) that these just couldn't be recreated without 'em. I mean: meringues were basically half egg white. And macarons had egg amongst its three ingredients. Choux was basically butter + milk + egg.

Enter: Aquafaba.

I first came upon Aquafaba (read: chickpea cooking water slash the water you get in the canned version) when I was in one of my macaron-less moods. 'Vegan Macaron' was googled many a time (trust me), but this time I just happened to find one made out of (gasp!) chickpea cooking water. Which, granted, does seem odd. Chickpea flavoured macaron?

Er maybe not.

But listen close: aquafaba works. And aquafaba god's gift to vegans (along with hummus). Couple of tablespoons of this stuff, pinch of cream of tartar, buckets of sugar (hashtag treat yo'self) and you have yourself a meringue. Add in almond flour and taadaa! macaron!

But this is not a post about meringues. Or macarons. Today is a day for choux.

Choux pastry is typically made out of a dough butter, milk, flour and eggs. Maybe a bit of sugar. It's usually cooked on a bain marie until it forms a little dough ball, then formed into little balls or logs to make profiteroles or eclairs.

Google vegan choux and you are faced with 2 problems. 1: they never look quite as good as their egg-laden counterparts. Never quite golden, or crisp. Kind of shrivelled and sad and pale. But we want crunch we want browning! and; 2: the ingredient list usually is full of 'fake' vegan food like margarine and egg replacer which I just don't own or like using. Or powders like arrowroot and guar gum and tapioca starch which I would never use otherwise.

So I tried my own. Using aquafaba. Because if it works for meringues then it must work for choux, right? #sashalogic

Also: no funky ingredients. Kinda healthy. Ish. And you probably can make it now. Right now (well ok after you read the recipe).

AND IT WORKED. So in celebration, because all successful recipe-veganising call for celebrations, I made Wes Anderson's Courtesan Au Chocolat from the Grand Budapest Hotel. Because (a) Wes Anderson is a genius and I worship him; and (b) I have watched this video too many times crying softly and whispering the word 'choux' every 19 seconds:

(The music! The copper pans! So much perfection.) (Except, you know, eggs+butter+milk)

So I made my own vegan-ified version. Hurrah! I will now eat my Courtesan Au Chocolat towers while watching Grand Budapest (for the 4309859234809th time) with a smug little smile on my face. Like this one here.

Also, if you want to make your own Mendl's Boxes (who wouldn't?) like I did, print off the template here. I just stuck it on some card paper and cut it out, made shallow little cuts with a pen knife along the folds on the inside of the box, glued+assembled and threaded baby blue ribbon through. Simple pimple.

The choux recipe is as follows. You don't need to follow the sizing step if you aren't making the Anderson version of a Religieuse.

Vegan Choux
Cooking time adapted from here

1 cup plain flour
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1/8 tsp salt (I love using pink himalayan) 
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
2 tbsp coconut oil
6 tablespoons aquafaba*
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
Pinch of turmeric 
1 cup non dairy milk** 
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C and line a baking tray with parchment or a silpat sheet. Sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together in a bowl. Over a bain marie or on a heavy-bottomed pan on a small flame, bring the 1 cup of oat milk and coconut oil to a bowl. Reduce the heat even more and stir in the flour mixture using a wooden spoon. If the mixture becomes too thick, add a tablespoon of water or oat milk at a time until a dough forms. Take it off the heat immediately.
Whip the aquafaba and cream of tartar using a balloon whisk until it is stiff and frothy and no more liquid remains. whisk in the turmeric briefly.
Transfer half of the aquafaba mix to the dough and stir in, then repeat with the other half. Mix well until it is consistent. You can now shape the dough into little balls with you hands or on a spoon. You can also pipe them.
To make the courtesan Au chocolat I made 2 smaller dollops (teaspoon sized) for each bigger dollop (tablespoon sized). I did not make a hazelnut sized dollop as in the video because it would have burnt, and the nature of the choux dough requires much cooling in the oven itself so too small a dough ball would have burnt to a crisp. For profiteroles, just make tablespoon sized balls and for eclairs pipe them into logs. You can use a finger dipped in water to smooth down the top a bit so that no bits stick out too much and burn.
Place the tray into the oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 175 degrees C and bake another 15 minutes. Turn the oven off, cool for half an hour in the oven with the door left ajar (you can wedge a wooden spoon in) and then tip them out onto a wire rack, pierce a hole at the bottom to let the steam escape and cool another half hour.

*You can either measure this from the liquid inside a can of chickpeas, or boil some yourself and use 6 tbsp of the cooking liquid. I always keep some of it in the fridge but if you don't have any right now, cook some chickpeas (and make hummus from this recipe) place some aquafaba in the fridge until you have it cooled till room temp before you use it.
**I use homemade oat milk as I find it thickens nicely. I advice you do the same. I soak 1 cup of oats in 3 cups of water for 2 hours then blend and strain with a cheesecloth. And use 1 cup of the resulting milk. You can keep the rest for smoothies. The reason why this works more than other milks is because homemade oat milk often has little oat fragments still in it and this thickens when you cook it. Like oats. Go figure

Vegan Ganache (or you can also fill them with my chocolate mousse here or an avocado chocolate pudding)
1/2 a bar of good quality dark chocolate (anything beyond 70% will work nicely)
2-3 tbsp rice syrup or sweetener of choice
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cornflour dissolved in 3 tsp cold water
1 tbsp cacao butter (or coconut oil if you don't have any)
Over a bain marie or in a heavy bottomed pan, melt the chocolate together with the syrup, cacao butter, and cornflour+water mixture. Stir until it is a smooth liquid and continue to heat until it is thickened over a small flame (7-10 minutes), stirring constantly. Add the vanilla and stir it in, then refrigerate to let it firm up further before filling the puffs. I like to cut a slit in the puffs, use a little spoon to scoop up the dough inside (more room for chocolate!) then use the same spoon to stuff in the ganache

Icing for the puffs
Icing sugar
Acai powder for the purple layer
Beetroot powder for the pink layer
Wheatgrass/matcha for the green layer (alternatively you can use a drop of food colouring) 
Sift the icing sugar and add a drop of water, stir into a thick paste, adding as little water as you can as a thick paste works best. Divide into three bowls  (leaving a little and put it in a piping bag to pipe the white swirls) and colour them pink, purple and green. Assemble as in the video.

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  1. Very cool! Love the train tracks shot
    beach sandals

  2. You mention a macaroon made with the aquafaba...but I can't find any recipe for them. Do you have one?

  3. Awesome!! I'm lacto vegetarian, so this is perfect. Just wondering if I can sub the oats milk for dairy milk...

  4. Awesome!! I'm lacto vegetarian, so this is perfect. Just wondering if I can sub the oats milk for dairy milk...

  5. This is so awesome. You are genius. Thanks for the recipe !!