Oh boy, I love everything that is caramelized! It is such a cool technique to improve taste and texture even to a pastry product! Think about caramelized sugar, about caramelized butter/ brown butter, think about that golden crust on so many desserts. Superb! But then I discovered caramelized popcorn and my world has turned upside down – in the best possible way that is. So I find myself making this kind of sweet and slightly salty treat every time I get the chance to. So these caramelized popcorn chouquettes were just a step away!
Inspired by Dominique Ansel, I decided to put these caramelized popcorn bits and pieces over pate a choux, baking what one calls chouquettes. Chouquettes are tiny dollops of pate a choux, usually covered with crystal sugar that are served without any filling. Their charm relies on their texture and sweetness of the toppings. Tip: the leftover popcorn is quite delicious as well! 😉
Before going on though, I have to say please take caution measures for your own safety as this recipe requires working with hot sugar: use the appropriate tools, wear pants and long-sleeve shirt and shoes, make sure everything is ready before you start working (working space, tools, ingredients), don’t let the kids run around the kitchen. I am not saying it is dangerous, just stating that extra care should be taken whenever we work with hot sugar and caramel!
- 50 g popcorn popped scaled before cooking
- 200 g white sugar
- 55 g honey
- 45 g water
- 8 g baking soda
- 2 g salt
Pate a choux:
- 75 g water
- 70 g milk
- 75 g butter
- 3 g white sugar
- 2 g salt
- 100 g all-purpose flour
- 150 g whole eggs +/-
- Crystal sugar for more crunch
- First of all, pop your corn (feel free to use the microwave kind if you want), then allow it to cool down aside. If you use already salted popcorn, skip adding the salt in the recipe!
- Combine the sugar, honey and water in a pot and cook until the mixture begin to look slightly golden. Don’t overcook it as the baking soda tends to darken the color and intensify the taste so a dark caramel will result in burnt honeycomb. Also, use a large pot as the mixture foams up quite a lot.
- Once the color is golden, take aside and add the baking soda and salt, all at once, and begin stirring. Use a long wood spoon or spatula for this.
- When the soda is no longer visible, pour the HOT caramel over the popcorn and using the same spoon and spatula, begin mixing the corn and caramel together. DO NOT touch the caramel at all, not even the bowl as it is extremely hot! Use tools for this and take extra cautious measures if needed!
- Transfer quickly in a pan lined wit baking paper and cool down.
- Shatter the corn into smaller pieces for the recipe. You will only need part of it so keep the rest to nibble on!
Pate a choux:
- Heat up the water, milk, butter, salt and sugar in a pot.
- When it starts boiling, take aside and add the flour, all at once. Stir well then place back on heat and cook for 2 minutes, stirring all the time. The purpose is to evaporate part of the liquid from the dough.
- Remove from heat and transfer in a different bowl. Allow to cool down for 10 minutes then start adding the eggs, little by little. There is no rule for how much egg you add to a pate a choux – you add a little and observe the dough. The final dough should be shiny, smooth, run off the spatula slowly and form a peak when it falls off the spatula.
- Spoon the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a round nozzle then pipe small choux on a silicone mat.
- Sprinkle the top with chopped caramelized popcorn and crystal sugar.
- Bake in the preheated oven at 160C for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown and crusty.
- Cool down and serve!