Slightly retro and highly impressive, choux swans are far easier to make than you think. These ones are filled with a delicious salted caramel cream for a modern twist.
- 1 quantity basic choux pastry
- icing sugar, to dust
Salted caramel cream
- 310 ml (1⅓ cup) milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped
- 4 egg yolks
- 75 g (⅓ cup, firmly packed) dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes, crushed
- 185 ml (¾ cup) thickened cream, whipped to firm peaks
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 2 hours
Cooling time 1 hour
Allow an extra 20 minutes for making the basic choux pastry.
To make the salted caramel cream, put the milk and vanilla seeds and bean into a medium saucepan. Bring just to a simmer over a medium heat. Remove from heat and remove the vanilla bean. Use a balloon whisk to whisk the egg yolks, sugar and flour together in a heatproof bowl until well combined. Gradually whisk in the milk mixture until smooth and well combined. Return to the heat and stir constantly with the whisk over medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. Simmer, stirring constantly with the whisk, for 2 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and pass the crème patissiere through a sieve into a heatproof bowl if lumpy. Stir in the salt. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour or until completely cooled. Fold the whipped cream through the custard. Cover and return to the fridge until required
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C. Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
Spoon a third of the choux pastry into a large piping bag fitted with a 5 mm plain nozzle. (Image 1) Pipe the choux pastry into shapes to resemble a number 2 with a short base to make 12 swan heads and necks onto a tray, leaving a little room between each for spreading. Fill another large piping bag fitted with a 1.7 cm plain nozzle with the remaining choux pastry. (Image 2) Pipe into 12 ovals (about 7 cm long and 5 cm wide) to form the swan bodies onto the other tray. Use a slightly wet fingertip to smooth any peaks or bumps. Sprinkle both trays with a little water.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C and bake for a further 15 minutes or until golden, puffed and dry. Transfer the swan heads to a wire rack and set aside to cool. Turn the oven off and leave the swan bodies in the oven to cool and completely dry (this will take about 1 hour).
To assemble the swans, fill a large piping bag fitted with a plain 1.7 cm nozzle with the salted caramel cream. (Image 3) Cut the top third of a swan body off horizontally and cut the top in half to form the two wings. Spoon the salted caramel cream into the swan bottom half. (Image 4) Insert a head and then arrange the wings as shown in the picture. Repeat with the remaining swan bodies and heads and Salted caramel cream. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.
• The swan body and head pastries can be made up to 3 days ahead of serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Refresh by placing on an oven tray and reheating in an oven preheated to 180°C for 5 minutes for the heads and 10 minutes for the bodies. Cool be fore assembling.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O’Brien. Food preparation by Kerry Ray.
For more recipes, view our online column, Bakeproof: Choux pastry.