Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Recipe for Cygnes

Back from the world of technology to the world of pleasure; the pleasures of the table, to be exact. A few years ago I held a tea in 18th-century style, which included fruit tarts, petit-fours (dyed to match my dress), lemonade, gourmet sandwiches, fruit, Paris-Brest cake, and much more; but my favorites were these little cream-filled "swans". The photo shows them in the bottom right-hand corner just as they were made and plated by my good friend Michael.
To make Cygnes:
(For 6 swans)
1 1/4 cups pate a choux (puff pastry)
1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt (to create an egg wash)
2 cups creme chantilly (or whipped cream)
powdered sugar

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pate a choux, spoon into pastry bag with a 5/8" fluted nozzle, and on a lightly-greased baking sheet, pipe out six 2X3" choux. Hold the pastry bag slightly inclined and draw it out to make an oval. Stop squeezing, then pull the nozzle back and up to form a small point.
2) Replace the nozzle with a 1/4" round nozzle and pipe out six 3" long candy cane shaped choux for the swans' necks.
3) Brush all pate a choux with beaten egg and bake for 15 mins, then lower the heat to 400-degrees, prop the oven door open, and bake for another 15-20 mins. The smaller choux will bake faster than the large pieces, so remove them when they are ready. Do not undercook them. Cool.
4) While the choux are cooking prepare the chantilly and chill.
5) With a serrated knife, cut the top off each choux, about 1/3 of the way down. Cut each top in hald lengthwise to create "wings". Remove any fragments of undercooked dough from the middle.
6) Spoon the cream into a small pastry bag and fill the bottoms. Place the necks at the wider end, well-anchored in the cream. Place the two halves of the wings, cut side down in the chantilly.
7) Pipe rosettes of cream down the back and between the wings. Dust the wings lightly with powdered sugar just before serving.

Serve within 2 hours. Bon appetit!
(Recipe from "Encyclopedia of Classic French Pastries" by Susan Whatley. 1993)

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