Intro: The Skunks
This cute little family is a perfect combo of sweet and creepy. This Halloween, I made green-custard-filled and chocolate-ganache-covered puffy choux pastry critters that will delight your guests and tickle your fancy.
To make 16 chocolate choux skunks, you will need:
For the Choux Skunks
- 1 cup (140 g) All-purpose (plain) flour
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup (237 mL) Milk
- 1 tsp (5 mL) Granulated white sugar
- ¼ tsp (1.25 mL) Salt
- ¼ cup (63 mL) Unsalted butter (softened)
For Crème Pâtissière
- Ingredients 250 mL of whole milk
- 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 50g of caster sugar (or powdered sugar)
- 3 egg yolks
- 10g of plain flour and 10g of cornflour (or just 20 g of plain)
- Green gel food coloring (or matcha powder)
For Chocolate Ganache
- 9 oz (260 g) semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup (240 mL) of heavy cream
For the Details
- White candy melts for eyes and stripes
- White candy melts and red coloring (or red candy melts) for noses
- Corn syrup to make modeling chocolate
- Melted dark chocolate (for binding)
- Double boiler
- Parchment paper (and wax paper, optional)
- Piping bags and attachments
- Heavy Bottom pan
- Baking sheets
- Wire rack
- Plastic wrap
Step 1: Make Choux Pastry
To make the dough, heat 1 cup (237 mL) Milk, dissolve 1 tsp (5 mL) Granulated white sugar and ¼ tsp (1.25 mL) Salt. Add ¼ cup (63 mL) unsalted butter (softened) and fully dissolve (do not boil).
Then add 1 cup (140 g) all-purpose (plain) flour (all at once) and stir vigorously over medium heat with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a ball. Set aside to cool slightly.
Add 4 large eggs - 1 egg at a time, incorporating fully between additions (to make sure the egg does not become omelet).
Once all of the eggs are incorporated and the dough reaches a smooth consistency, split the dough between two piping bags: one bag with a star attachment 1.5cm (1/2 inch) in diameter and another with a small round nozzle (1/4 inch in diameter).
Trace tail shape, body shapes, and head shapes onto parchment paper. Lay it over a baking sheet (or two).
Pipe the dough onto parchment paper (you should have enough dough for at least 16 of these little guys). You may need to make a couple of bakes depending on the size of your oven and baking sheet.
Preheat the oven to 370°F/188°C
For the tails, use the star-shaped tip, about 1.5cm (1/2 inch) in diameter, with as many fine teeth as possible. The teeth create ridges in the dough that helps it expand without cracking and create the shape you need to make the cute finish. To make a curly twist on the ends, use the other bag and pipe thin curls on the ends.
For the heads, use the round tip and think of it as s syringe. Pipe a line and then "inject" one end of it with more mixture to make it "balloon". This will create a head shape with a thin nose.
Bake choux skunks at 370°F for 40 minutes. Do not open the oven door during baking or they will deflate. Once baked, transfer onto a wire rack to cool.
Step 2: Make Crème Pâtissière
In a heavy-bottomed pot, bring 250ml of whole milk to a simmer (do not over-boil), add a vanilla pod (if using extract, wait to add at the end) and let cool slightly.
In a separate bowl combine 3 egg yolks with 10g flour (10g plain + 10g cornflour or 20g plain) and a pinch of salt.
Add a little bit (maybe 1/3) of milk into the egg and flour mixture and mix vigorously. Pour that diluted mixture back into the pot with the remainder of the milk and continue to mix. Set over medium heat and mix until it cooks down a bit and stiffens.
Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a film forming.
Cool until ready to use.
Once the mixture had completely cooled, add a drop of green food coloring and fluff it up a bit with a whisk to incorporate color and give a light texture.
Put into a piping bag with a skinny nozzle to fill the skunks. I filled the tails with the green cream and bodies and heads with plain cream. You can fill it all with green or mix and match. You may whip up a bit of butter to incorporate with the Crème Pâtissière for volume and/or taste.
Step 3: Make and Apply Chocolate Ganache
Measure 9 oz (260 g) of semisweet chocolate chips and 1 cup (240 mL) of heavy cream. Heat the cream in a saucepan (or microwave) until hot but not boiling. Pour the hot cream into the bowl of chocolate chips and stir until chocolate melts and your get a nice shine.
Line a baking sheet with wax (or parchment) paper (for easy cleanup) and stack a wire rack on top.
Use toothpicks to dunk filled skunk pieces in ganache to coat fully. Set on a wire rack to drip for at least 3 hours (best if left overnight to fully set).
Step 4: Make Decorative Elements
Take about 1/4 cup of candy melts and set into the double boiler over medium heat. Once fully melted, reserve some of the mixture to pipe stripes on the skunk tails and heads (I put it into a piping bag and applied immediately before the mixture cooled back down and solidified).
To the rest of the melted candy melt mixture, add 1tsp of of corn syrup and mix until it forms a ball. Split n half and add red coloring to some of the mixture.
Wrap both parts in plastic and cool.
Form equal balls from white and red candy melts (for eyes and nose).
Step 5: Assemble Present and Enjoy!
Melt a bit more dark/semisweet chocolate chips.
Stick white eyeballs onto toothpicks and dip lightly into dark chocolate. Stick to the heads.
Do the same with the red noses.
Attach the heads to bodies with toothpicks (warn your guests to be careful). You could probably attach the heads with some melted chocolate, but I wanted to make sure they're extra sturdy).
Lean the bodies against the tails (they should stand up).
Add some green lettuce or another pop of color and serve!