Choux pastry

Choux pastry, or pâte à choux (French: [pɑ.t‿a ʃu]), is a delicate pastry dough used in many pastries. Basic ingredients usually only include butter, water, flour and eggs (auxiliary ingredients and flavorings are also added).

Choux pastry
Choux pastry swans
Alternative namesPâte à choux
Place of originFrance
Region or stateParis
Created byPanterelli
Main ingredientsButter, flour, eggs, water

Instead of a raising agent, choux pastry employs its high moisture content to create steam, as the water in the dough evaporates when baked, puffing the pastry. The pastry is used in many European cuisines, including French cuisine and Spanish cuisine, and is the basis of many notable desserts, including profiteroles, éclairs and churros.


According to some cookbooks,[1] a chef by the name of Pantarelli or Pantanelli, Catherine de' Medici's head chef,[2] invented the dough in 1540, seven years after he left Florence with Medici and her court. He used the dough to make a gâteau and named it pâte à Pantanelli. Over time, the recipe of the dough evolved, and the name changed to pâte à popelin, which was used to make popelins, named after Pantanelli's successor Popelini, small cakes supposedly made to resemble the shape of a woman's breasts. Popelins were common aristocratic desserts in the 16th century, and were flavored with cheese or citrus (for example lemon peel, orange blossom water, etc.).[3] They were prepared from dough that had been dried over a fire to evaporate its water, which was called pâte à chaud (literally meaning 'hot pastry').[4] The name pâte à choux derives from this (contrary to the common misconception that “choux”—French for “cabbage”—refers to the similarity between the shape of the pastry and the shape of a head of cabbage).[5]

Then, royal chefs Jean Avice, a pâtissier, and Antoine Carême, who worked in the court of Marie Antoinette, made modifications to the recipe in the 18th century, resulting in the recipe most commonly used now for profiteroles.[6]

Essential ingredients and manner of rising

The ingredients for choux pastry are butter, water, flour and eggs. Like Yorkshire pudding or David Eyre's pancake, instead of a raising agent, it employs high moisture content to create steam during cooking to puff the pastry. The high moisture content is achieved by boiling the water and butter, then adding the flour. The mixture is cooked a few minutes longer, then cooled before adding enough eggs to achieve the desired consistency. The boiling step causes the starch in the flour to gel, allowing the incorporation of more water.[7]

Foods made with choux pastry

This pastry is used to make choux (small puffs), as the name implies, but also profiteroles, croquembouches, éclairs, religieuses, French crullers, beignets, St. Honoré cake, Parisian gnocchi, dumplings,[8] chouquettes (unfilled choux pastry paired with pearl sugar)[9] and gougères.

Choux pastry is usually baked, but for beignets, it is fried. In Spain and Latin America, churros are made of fried choux pastry, sugared and dipped in a thick hot chocolate for breakfast. In Italian cuisine, choux pastry is the base for zeppole di San Giuseppe which are cream-filled pastries eaten on March 19th for the feast of Saint Joseph. In Austrian cuisine, one variation of Marillenknödel, a sweet apricot dumpling[10] cooked in simmering water, uses choux pastry; in that case it does not puff, but remains relatively dense. Choux pastries are sometimes filled with cream after baking to make cream puffs or éclairs.[11]

A craquelin is covered in a "crackly" sugar topping — and often filled with pastry cream, much like an éclair.


Home-made chouquettes
TypeChoux pastry
Place of originFrance
Main ingredientschoux pastry, nib sugar; custard or mousse

A chouquette (French pronunciation: [ʃukɛt]), a diminutive of choux, is a small, round, hollow choux pastry covered with pearl sugar.[12][13] Unlike éclairs which are also made with choux pastry, chouquettes are bite-sized and hollow on the inside.

Chouquettes originate from Paris, and can be enjoyed at anytime of the day whether it be for breakfast, or as an afternoon snack.[14]

See also


  1. Le Cordon Bleu patisserie foundations. Clifton Park, New York: Delmar. 2 December 2011. ISBN 978-1-4390-5713-1.
  2. Broder, Jaye (19 January 2014). "Pâte À Choux". Doughries. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
  3. Traub, Courtney (29 July 2021). "French Choux Pastry: A Short History". Paris Unlocked. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  4. S.G. Sender, Marcel Derrien, La Grande Histoire de la pâtisserie-confiserie française, Minerva, 2003 ISBN 2-8307-0725-7, p. 98.
  5. Traub, Courtney (29 July 2021). "French Choux Pastry: A Short History". Paris Unlocked. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  6. Juillet, Claude (1998). Classic Patisserie: An A–Z Handbook. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 0-7506-3815-X.
  7. McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (Completely rev. and updated. ed.). New York, New York: Scribner. pp. 552–553, 612. ISBN 0-684-80001-2.
  8. Pellaprat, Henri-Paul; Tower, Jeremiah (2012). The Great Book of French Cuisine. Vendome Press. ISBN 9780865652798.
  9. cite web |last1=David |first1=Lebovitz |url= |access-date=24 October 2021 |language=en
  10. "Recipe for this variation of Marillenknödel". (in German).
  11. "Basics: Choux pastry". Just Hungry. 6 April 2004. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  12. "Illustrated recipes, kitchenware shop, kitchen accessories, professional cookware on Meilleur du Chef". Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  13. Harlé, Eva (18 March 2015). Pains et Viennoiseries (in French). Hachette Pratique. p. 138. ISBN 9782014600407. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  14. Rose, Lucie (12 January 2015). "Meet the Chouquette: Parisian Breakfast at its Finest". Frenchly. Retrieved 29 March 2021.

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