Courtesans au Chocolat (Religeuse)

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by Heather Harris Brady

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you probably know I’m a Wes Anderson fangirl, and after he featured pastries (in pink boxes no less!) in The Grand Budapest Hotel, well, he’s got a place in my heart forever. (And he also put out a how-to video on them – what more can a girl ask?) Because I’m into such things, I delved in the background behind these pretty pastries. They are based on courtesans au chocolat, which are known as religeuse if they have coffee icing. So in this episode we’re reviewing both! The religeuse is pictured above, and its movie counterpart is below. After a comprehensive taste test we all agree we actually like the ones with the coffee icing better, even though the movie ones are prettier.

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These pastries share a common shell and filling, they just go together a little differently. To keep this post on the shorter side, and because I’ve covered this items before, I’m skipping some of the step-by-step. If you want to review it just visit the original links below. If you make the filling and icing ahead of time these go together quite quickly.

Necessary Elements – Religeuse

  • Choux paste
  • Chocolate pastry cream (recipe following)
  • Coffee icing (recipe following)

Necessary Elements – Mendl’s Pastry

  • Choux paste
  • Chocolate pastry cream (recipe following)
  • Melting chocolate (pink, green, white)
  • Royal icing (white, blue)

Chocolate Pastry Cream, Makes about two cups

  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 3 T. dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • Two eggs
  • 2 oz. 72% chocolate
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 T. butter

Put the milk in a saucepan over medium heat (you can also use a double-boiler if you want to play it safe).

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Combine all the dry ingredients well and whisk them in.

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Continue whisking until the mixture bubbles and thickens, about four  minutes.

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Beat the eggs in a bowl (I just use the one from the dry ingredients) and add a large dollop of the hot cream. Stir well and return it to the pan.

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Whisk well and cook for another minute. Then add the chocolate and whisk it in as it melts.

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Remove the cream from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap over the top and chill thoroughly while you make the rest.

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Coffee Icing, Makes about 3/4 of a cup

  • 1/3 c. heavy cream
  • 1 t. instant coffee
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 T. butter, softened

Add the coffee to the cream and heat it in the microwave until the coffee dissolves. Stir well and let it cool

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Stir the butter and the powdered sugar into the coffee cream. Adjust the consistency to your liking and set it aside.

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 Baking & Assembly

Follow all the directions in my choux paste recipe. If you’re making the movie pastries you need three different sizes, for the religeuse only two.

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All baked and lined up for filling – here I have enough for four movie pastries and four religeuse. Trim off any pointy spots that will cause you problems when you go to stack them.

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Mendl’s Pastries

To assemble the movie pastries, take a small, medium and large puff. Fill each with the chocolate pastry cream. Warm your melting chocolates. The large one gets a dollop of white chocolate on top, the middle gets green and the top gets pink. The chocolate hardens up quite fast as you stack.

Decorate them with the royal icing if desired.

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Religeuse

Same drill but here you’re only stacking two layers. Fill a large and medium puff with chocolate pastry cream and top them with a dollop of coffee icing. I added a few mini chips to the top but a chocolate covered coffee bean would be nice too.

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Repeat until you’ve filled and assembled all your pastries.

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Keep the pastries chilled at all times. These are best eaten the day they’re made. If you make the whole recipe of puffs you can freeze those unfilled for later.

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Two years ago: Chocolate Pudding
One year ago: Enchiladas

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