These are very old-fashioned, and I love them for this reason and also because they remind me of happy days cooking at La Rive, a restaurant in the Hudson Valley, when I was a young chef. They’re a great thing to make with kids and are fun to present at the table. Work carefully when piping the batter so that you have nicely shaped bodies and elegantly curved necks don’t forget the cute little beaks.
If you have two ovens, use them, as the necks and the bodies bake for different times, and pate a choux generally bakes best in the center of the oven. You will have extra batter, but it’s a good idea to pipe extra bodies and heads/necks so you can use the best ones or pipe and freeze the extras to bake another time.
- Yield: 8 swans
- Pate a Choux for Eclairs
- 2½ tbsp ½ cup (150 g) Pastry Cream
- 2 tbsp ¾ cups (150 g) Basic Buttercream at room temperature
- 1 small batch Sweetened Whipped Cream
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F (standard). Line two sheet pans with parchment paper and pipe a bit of pate a choux under each corner to attach the paper to the pans. Fill the spray bottle with water.
- Fill the pastry bag with the plain tip with about 80 grams/½ cup of the pate a choux for the heads and necks. Fill the pastry bag with the #829 star tip with the remaining pate a choux for the bodies. For the bodies
- Use about 50 grams of pate a choux for each body: Begin by piping the rounded neck end of one body on one of the sheet pans, then continue piping, pulling the bag farther away each time, to narrow the body, and finally twisting the bag to create a tail. Repeat to form a total of 8 bodies. For the heads and necks
- Use about 5 grams of pate a choux for each head and neck: Pipe a head ½ to ¾ inch in diameter on the second baking sheet, then continue piping an S shape, stopping short of completing the final curve of the S. Form a small beak by piping a dab of pate a choux on the head and pulling the bag away from the head to narrow it and form a point. Repeat to form a total of 8 heads/necks.
- Spray the bodies, heads, and necks lightly with water. Place the bodies in the upper third of the oven and the heads/necks in the lower third. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. After 15 minutes, turn the heads/necks over and continue to bake for 5 minutes, or until they are golden brown and dry. Because the necks are so thin, it is important to keep a close eye on them. When they are done, remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
- Continue baking the bodies, for a total of 40 minutes, at 350°F. Then reduce the heat to 325°F and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300°F and bake for 20 minutes longer, or until the bodies are golden brown and thoroughly cooked; they should feel light. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack and cool completely before filing or freezing.
- Using a serrated knife, cut off the top third of each body, being careful not to cut off the tails. Set the bottoms aside. Cut the tops lengthwise in half to create the wings; set aside. For the mousseline
- Place the pastry cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until smooth. Add the buttercream and whip until well combined and smooth.
- Fill the pastry bag with the #867 tip with the whipped cream. Spoon the mousseline into the bodies. Beginning at the back end, pipe a spiral of the whipped cream over the mousseline in each body. Arrange the wings on the swans, gently pushing the cut sides of the wings into the whipped cream, just to anchor them. Do the same with the heads/necks. Dust the swans with powdered sugar and serve immediately.