Pantanelli is believed to have invented the dough in 1540, seven years after he left Florence with Catherine de' Medici and her court. He used the dough to make a gâteau and named it pâte à Pantanelli. Over the course of time, the recipe of the dough evolved, and the name changed to pâte à popelin, which was used to make popelins; small cakes made in the shape of a woman's breasts. Then, Avice, a pâtissier in the 18th century, created what were then called choux buns. The name of the dough changed to pâte à choux.
Makes 45 mini choux (profiteroles) or 20 large choux or éclairs.
Bring water, milk, butter, sugar and salt to a boil. Remove from heat, Using and stir in flour until combined. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture pulls away from sides for about 2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for about 1 minute to get the steam out then add eggs gradually and mix until a soft peak forms when batter is touched with your finger. If peak does not form, add a dash of milk. Follow the same method if mixed by hand using a rubber spatula.
Pipe choux or eclairs on a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat or parchment using a 5/8’’ / 0.625’’ / 15.8 mm open star pastry tip. The use of a star piping tip (or nozzle) to pipe pâte à choux is essential to allowing the batter to expand evenly with minimal cracking during the baking process. The ridges created by piping the pâte à choux with a star tip creates gaps that allows the choux to expand evenly during baking. Dust choux with some powdered sugar before baking instead of using egg wash. Unbaked piped pate a choux can be refrigerated a couple of days or frozen for weeks before being baked. Throw frozen choux straight in preheated oven.
Set the oven rack adjusted to the middle position. Bake one tray at a time.
If using a conventional oven: Bake at 450ºF/230ºC oven for 5 minutes, then lower temp to 350ºF/180ºC and continue baking for 30 minutes more. Do not open the oven door during baking or it will deflate.
After 30 min, turn oven off leaving door ajar allowing choux to dry for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
If using a convection oven: Lower temperature to 25ºF (15ºC) and shorten the baking time by 5 minute.
Beat heavy cream, sour cream, vanilla, and sugar to soft peaks. Keep refrigerated.
If you don’t feel comfortable using caramel, choux can be dusted with powdered sugar instead.
For the caramel, heat up a medium size heavy bottomed saucepan or skillet on high heat and cook half of the sugar first until it turns light brown. Reduce heat to medium high and continue stirring. The mixture will thicken and change color as it cooks. Remove the caramel from the heat when it is medium amber. Carefully and immediately dip the tops of the choux and let sit caramel side down on silicon mat.
Cut off choux tops and pipe out chantilly. Choux chantilly last one day only – Enjoy!