Ombre Pink Lemonade Courtesan au Chocolat
You've seen Wes Anderson's new movie, right? The Grand Budapest Hotel? It's possibly the best Wes Anderson film to date. And not just because it features the pink and turquoise, flour-covered goings on of an adorable bakery girl (Agatha) -- which may or may not make my little baking heart go all aflutter. She bakes up these quirky little stacks of choux pastry filled with chocolate and iced in white chocolate. In the film they're called courtesan au chocolat. I've been informed that no such thing exists in French pastry, but in my head it will now and for forever more. If I ever got to Paris I'm going to ask for one and be TOTALLY miffed that the patisserie shops haven't caught on yet (Ah fille américaine, vous êtes fou...).
Who wouldn't want an expert stack of perfect little custard filled cream puffs? I mean, I know I do. I wish I could walk down my street, go to Mendl's, pick up a ribbon-tied box of them and dig in. Alas, that may never be a reality. So I have to spend a couple of hours in my kitchen mixing up a range of pink icings, whipping eggs into chocolate, boiling strawberries for curd. Not to mention, baking up a bunch of choux pastry (surprisingly easy). I felt 100% like Agatha.
Well, except that I'm not an old hand at choux pastry... or stacking pastry... or even decorating pastry. As you can see from the photos, I threw these together in a vortex of confectioners sugar and pink dye and somehow managed to get these stacked. Which practically didn't matter, we ate them so fast. (Thank god I had some friends over to help me eat them or Logan and I would have been in a bad way).
I decided to do a pink lemonade version of these beauties becaaaaause I got a big ol' bottle of key lime juice the other day, and it just so happens that I had a ton of icing to make. Put em together, add some natural pink dye, and it's pink lemonade all the way. (I know, it's lime flavor, but Pink Lemonade is a construction of the advertising machine anyway, right? Lemons aint pink, people.). I love the way the buttery choux pastry plays against the super tart icing. That bright flavor really brings out the strawberry and chocolate fillings as well.
Molly Yeh (My Name is Yeh), Lyndsay Sung (Cococakeland) and I geeked out nerd-girl style over these pastries. We've all posted Mendl's inspired courtesan au chocolat recipes today! You can check out Molly's Matcha, Ube, & Raspberry version here. And Lyndsay's sweet puffy towers of goodness here!
Check out the official video and tutorial for the courtesan au chocolate here! It's real helpful.
1 batch of my favorite einkorn cream puff recipe (I subbed ghee for butter, by the way -- which leads me to believe you could sub coconut oil if you're dairy free)
Pipe cream puff batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet. You'll want two sheets of 2 inch piped mounds, and one sheet of small 1 inch piped mounds. Bake in two batches on the middle rack in your oven as directed on 425F. Note: the smaller puffs will bake faster, so keep an eye on them. When you remove them from the oven, take a small sharp knife and cut slits into the bottoms of each puff to help release steam and get a crisper pastry.
6 oz dark chocolate, chopped
6 tbsp coconut milk
1 tsp ghee (or butter or coconut oil)
In a bain marie or double boiler over medium heat, melt the chocolate. Add coconut milk & ghee and remove from heat. The chocolate will "break" at this point (it will look sort of grainy and oily). Using an electric beater, beat the ganache and add your egg. Whip until smooth.
Small Batch Strawberry Chia Curd
4 cups fresh or frozen strawberries (mince berries if fresh)
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp cane sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp ghee (or butter or coconut oil)
3 tbsp chia seeds
2 egg yolks
In a medium pot, cook down strawberries until liquified. Add maple syrup, sugar, vinegar, ghee, and chia. Let set 10 minutes, and stir (ambient heat cooks the yolk). The chia offsets the need for more eggs in this recipe, helping to create a gel. Set in refrigerator to cool completely before use.
India Tree natural food coloring
Combine powdered sugar and lime juice until you've reached desired consistency. I like a thick icing, so I used about 1 tsp lime juice to a cup of sugar. Divide out between three wide bowls (big enough to dip into). Add desired amount of red and blue dyes to get a dark pink, medium pink, and light blush pink.
-- Royal icing (you'll need this if you're stacking)
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp egg white (or more, depending on your desired consistency -- you want it thick, like toothpaste)
a couple of drops of blue food coloring
Putting it all together
Fill one pastry bag with chocolate custard, and another with strawberry curd (I used a thin pastry bag tip to fill the puffs, but you could also just snip off the ends of the bags). Fill half of your large puffs with chocolate, and the other half with strawberry -- gently, so as not to create any spurts of chocolate or curd from weak points in the puffs. Dip chocolate puffs in dark pink icing, strawberry puffs in medium-pink icing, and unfilled tiny puffs in blush pink icing.
To stack, place a tiny amount of royal icing on a chocolate-filled puff and top with a strawberry puff. Then dab some royal icing on top of a strawberry puff and top with a tiny unfilled puff.
A friend suggested that these would look awesome with some of those edible silver sugar balls on top. And I completely agree. If you've got em (or edible glitter for that matter!) throw it on!
But how the heck do you eat it?! Well, just like in the movie: cut it right down the middle and laugh at all of the silly effort you just put into something that you're just going to smash and gobble up.