This pâte à choux (Choux pastry) recipe makes 32 swan bodies. Freeze choux leftovers for later use if desired. Sift together flour and cocoa powder; set aside. Meanwhile, bring water, milk, butter, salt, and honey to a boil. Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir in the sifted powders. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture pulls away from sides and a film forms on bottom of pan, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until slightly cooled, about 2 minutes. Raise speed to medium; add half of the beaten eggs, and mix until incorporated. Add remaining eggs until a soft peak forms when batter is touched with your finger. Pipe out swans into drop shapes using an open French tip #869. Dust pate a choux with powdered sugar right prior baking.
Preheat oven to 390ºF/200ºC. If using a convection oven, lower temperature to 375ºF/190ºC. Bake for about 30 minutes – Turn the oven off, and leave the oven door ajar for 8 minutes. Cool choux –
In a narrow container, slightly melt dark chocolate in the microwave. Separately, bring to a boil heavy cream (200g) along with corn syrup and honey. Add it to the chocolate and mix using an immersion blender. Add the remaining cold heavy cream; mix and chill completely, or best overnight before whipping into Chantilly.
Swan's necks can also be made with pate a choux using a small plain pastry tip. Pipe out S shapes on a baking tray lined with parchment, or baking mat. Bake for about 15 minutes. For the chocolate plastic technique, in a food processor, blend room temperature chocolate until it turns into playdough like texture. If chocolate mixture is too firm, give a few more pulses. If too soft, let it out to cool off. Keep remaining chocolate plastic covered during shaping, and carving. Make a ≈5.5''/14 cm rope, and shape into S. For the swan's head, make a small ball and stick it to the neck, followed by the beak. Carve out using a small cookie cutter, and pairing knife. Smooth out imperfection rubbing it with your fingers. Repeat until done. Save chocolate leftovers for later use.
Adding extra chocolate feathers remains optional. The ideal room temp to work with chocolate should be around 68/70ºF/20/22ºC. For better handling, use a fair amount of chocolate. Tempering chocolate: melt chocolate over water-bath. The pastry bowl should not touch the simmering water. Stir up every so often until chocolate temperature reaches 113/115ºF/45/50ºC. Place melted chocolate in the refrigerator for about 10 min; stirring every so often – cool to 79ºF/26ºC, then quickly rewarm chocolate to 88ºF/32ºC max. Make plastic sheets opening up freezer bags. Gently oil your work surface in order for the plastic to adhere. Spread about 10 ounces/300g tempered chocolate. Using an offset spatula, spread it evenly into a 1.5 mm thin chocolate sheet going from 9 o'clock to 3, and noon to 6. Let set for a few minutes until chocolate wont stick anymore. Cut out leaf shapes using the whole surface. Cover with a large parchment paper sheet. Place a rolling pin at 30 degree angle and wrap around rolling pin – chill to set. Unwrap carefully and keep chocolate decorations in a 58ºF/14ºC store room, or refrigerator for weeks.
*The addition of praliné is optional. It can be subbed for Nutella. In a hot frying pan, cook sugar to brown caramel stage and toss in nuts, and salt. Transfer caramelized nuts onto a silicone baking mat to cool. Break into pieces, and throw caramelized nuts gradually in the running food processor. Blend into paste. Praliné can be stored for months.
Whip chocolate ganache into medium peaks Chantilly. Fill up a pastry bag fitted with a medium size open star pastry tip; set aside. Slice off swan choux tops. Split each top in half for the wings. In swan's body, pipe out some hazelnut praliné first, followed by the chocolate Chantilly. Add wings, neck, and chocolate feathers. Chocolate swans can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for 2 weeks. Enjoy!