Some people window-shop, I sometimes like to ‘window-eat, especially when I am outside a store like Ladurée. I often give in to temptation, and go for that particular pastry that I have been eyeing like an eagle – the Saint Honoré. How can one resist the caramel colored puffy pillows sitting on a cloud of vanilla whipped cream?
The Saint Honoré was named after Honoré, a French saint of bakers by M. Chiboust, ‘pâtissier’ on the rue Saint Honoré in Paris. This classic French dessert is made of puff pastry, ‘pâte à choux’ puffs filled with ‘chiboust cream’ and masses of whipped cream. It is often my choice for a birthday cake, and I started making them for my own amusement, thinking I would never really succeed. To my surprise, it is a relatively simple cake to make (just be patient and read the recipe through), and so rewarding. If you want to make someone feel special, then this is the cake.
One pack of fresh raspberries
1 good quality ready-made shortcrust pastry sheet
For the puff pastry (pâte a choux):
75 ml water/ 1/3 cup
75 ml/ 1/3 cup full cream milk
60 g/ 2 oz butter (cubed)
80 g/ 3 oz plain flour (sifted)
3 g/ 1/2 tsp
10 g / 2 tsp sugar
In a saucepan, add milk, water, butter, salt and sugar and bring to a simmer. Take the pan away from the heat and add the flour (in one go) and stir constantly until you get a smooth dough. Put back on a low heat for 1-2 minutes to dry it up slightly. Take away from heat. Add the eggs, one by one, and stir gradually to form a smooth dough. Leave to rest at room temperature.
For the caramel:
100 g/ 3.5 oz caster sugar
4 tbsp water
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
For the ‘crème patissière’ filling:
300 ml full cream milk
2 eggs yolks
80 g/ 3 oz caster sugar
30 g/ 1 oz corn starch
1 tsp vanilla essence
A dash of rum or kirsch (optional)
In a saucepan, add milk, sugar, vanilla essence and bring to a simmer. Stir well and take off the heat. Add the egg yolks and whisk continuously. Drizzle the corn starch and whisk again – put on a low heat, for 2 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to a thick creamy sauce. Set aside and leave to cool. Then place in the refrigerator to set it properly (15-20 minutes).
Chantilly whipped cream:
250 ml/1 cup whipping cream
20 g/ 4 tsp icing sugar
Whip cream (I use electric whisks), add the sugar after 30 seconds and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Set aside in freezer until you need to use it.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°/ degrees celsius/ 360 F.
Roll pastry into a 8-10 cm/ 3-4 inches round shape and cut out four round disks – you can use a small cake tin or jar lid to make the shape. Place on a parchment-lined baking tray. Cover with a round of greased parchment paper and weigh pastry down with pastry weights (or dried beans). Bake 10 minutes, then remove paper and weights. Bake 10 minutes more. Set aside to cool.
Place the pate a choux dough in a pastry piping bag with a large nozzle and pipe small nut shapes onto a parchment-lined baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes. Set aside and leave to cool.
When all the ‘choux’ are cool, make a small slit in the base. Use pastry bag with the smallest nozzle tip and ‘inject’ each ‘choux’ with the crème patissière (approx one tbsp per choux). Set aside.
Now you can make the caramel. On a low heat, melt the sugar, teaspoon of fresh lemon juice, and four tablespoons of water in a saucepan. Let the mixture melt. It is very important not to stir until the color starts to turn golden. At this point, shake the pan, until the color slowly turns to caramel golden brown. This process will take approx 15 minutes. Be very careful not to burn the caramel. Take away from heat and place the saucepan in cold water for 5 seconds to stop the heating process.
Dip each ‘choux’ in the caramel, being very careful not too burn your fingers as it is very hot. You can use kitchen pliers or hold the ‘choux’ with a stick if you prefer. Set aside. I like to play around with the rest of the caramel and drizzle it on parchment paper. They can make nice decorations, and it’s delicious!
Now you can decorate the cake. First start with the pastry base, thinly layer with the crème patissière, then pipe little meringue shapes with the whipped cream. Add the caramel covered choux around the cake, and place raspberries around the choux and a few in the center. Continue and finish with whipped cream piped all around. Finish with one ‘choux’ on top.