Choux Swans for the August 2012 Daring Bakers' Challenge

Hey Friends! How was your weekend? Mine was excellent - had a little fun hiking and baking and got a little accomplished by dejunking and organizing my garage yesterday. Got the satisfaction of hauling an entire truckload full of junk to the dump!! Woohoo! Any way, after a long hiatus, I am finally back and participating in the Daring Bakers' Challenge for the month!

Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!

I didn't go too wild - I kept with the swan shape (or as good as I could manage any way...) and filled them with a mocha (chocolate & coffee) pastry cream. The result was an amazing tasting dessert. The pastry cream was a hit and I will make it over and over again!!

Pate a Choux
Recipe from the Daring Bakers' (can't be doubled)

  • ½ cup (120 ml) (115 gm) (4 oz) butter
  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • ¼ teaspoon (1½ gm) salt
  • 1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  1. Line at least two baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5 .
  2. In a small saucepot, combine butter, water, and salt. Heat over  medium heat until butter melts, then remove from stove.
  3. Add flour all at once and beat, beat, beat the mixture until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pot.
  4. Add one egg, and beat until well combined. Add remaining eggs individually, beating vigorously after each addition. Resulting mixture should be somewhat glossy, very smooth, and somewhat thick.
  5. Using a ¼" (6 mm) tip on a pastry bag, pipe out about 36 swan heads. You’re aiming for something between a numeral 2 and a question mark, with a little beak if you’re skilled and/or lucky.
  6. Remove the tip from the bag and pipe out 36 swan bodies. These will be about 1.5" (40 mm) long, and about 1" (25 mm) wide. One end should be a bit narrower than the other.
  7. Bake the heads and bodies until golden and puffy. The heads will be done a few minutes before the bodies, so keep a close eye on the baking process
  8. Remove the pastries to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before filling.
 Next up, make the pastry cream:

Mocha Pastry Cream
Recipe minimally adapted from the Daring Bakers'

  • 1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 oz dark chocolate
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
  1. Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.
  2. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.
  3. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.
  4. Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat.
  5. Combine 1/4 cup whole milk, chocolate and espresso powder in a small, microwave safe container. Microwave on low heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Mix chocolate mixture, butter and vanilla into pastry cream and stir until smooth and incorporated. Chill until ready to use. 

 To assemble your swans:

  1. Take a swan body and use a very sharp knife to cut off the top 1/3rd to ½.
  2. Cut the removed top down the center to make two wings.
  3. Dollop a bit of filling into the body, insert head, and then add wings. 
  4. Your first attempt will probably not look like much, but the more you make, the more your bevy of swans will become a beautiful work of swan art.

Okay, so I'm not going to lie, these were a bit of work, but they weren't nearly as difficult or finicky as I thought they were going to be. My choux swans didn't puff up quite as much as I wanted and they didn't look as seamless as I thought they should once they were all assembled, but I was pleased with the overall result. Probably with a little practice, I could make some pretty cute little swans!!

Thanks so much Kat for hosting such a spectacular challenge! Great idea and it was fun to have something new and challenging to try out. :)

Happy Baking my Friends!


  1. I think they look fantastic, and the mocha cream sounds right up my dears husbands alley. I must try that soon. And if you want to come manage the chaos in my garage and drive stuff to the dump, I am more the willing to compensate with more pastry swans... Great job!

  2. Adorable swans! So good to have you back to the fun! Great job!