For choux pastries*
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
4 extra large eggs
*makes about a dozen bigne
For chocolate frosting
8 oz (225 g) semi-sweet A.Bakers baking chocolate
1/4 cup milk mixed with 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
Roasted almonds, chopped
For cream filling "Crema Pasticcera"
7 egg yolks
350 grams sugar (about 1 1/2 cups)
7 tablespoons flour
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 cups 2 per cent partly skimmed milk
1 bag of vanilla powder, preferably, "Paneangel Aroma per dolci, Vanillina" (If powdered vanilla is unavailable one can substitute 1 teaspoon clear-colored vanilla)
50 grams softened butter (about 2 tablespoons)
To make choux pastries
o Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
o Boil water and add butter (Do not over-boil or water will evaporate).
o Lower heat.
o Add the cup of flour all at one time, stirring constantly until it has the right consistency.
o Put the resulting dough in a Cuisinart blender (or bowl of a Kitchen Aid) and add one egg at a time, slowing mixing the eggs with the dough, until the dough is very elastic.
o Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
o Spoon about a tablespoon of the soft pastry dough for each choux that will be made (leave ample space in between the dough as the choux should double in size). The dough should be enough for at least a dozen choux.
o Bake on bottom rack until the choux are golden (Never opening the oven door as this will result in the dough not increasing in volume).
o Switch oven off when the choux are golden, and keep them in the oven for about 20 minutes before removing.
For "crema pasticcera"/pastry cream
o Keep eggs in tepid water for about 8 minutes.
o Separate egg yolks from egg whites.
o Beat egg yolks.
o Add sugar. Stir by hand.
o Slowly add flour.
o Add finely grated lemon zest.
o Add milk. Mix well.
o Add bag of vanilla powder ("Paneangel's Aroma per dolci, Vanillina").
o Add softened butter and mix very well with a wooden spatula.
o Turn on burner on medium high heat (#7).
o Put mixture in a stainless steel pan (L'Agastina brand is very good) and put on burner.
o Using a large whisk, stir mixture while it cooks and thickens. Do NOT let it boil, but it should be warm enough for it to cook through. Keep stirring the mixture for about 15 minutes or until it has the consistency of a thick Italian-style cream.
To make the frosting
o Mix milk with cocoa powder very well.
o Using a double broiler, melt chocolate, adding the butter and milk mixed with cocoa powder.
o Pour melted chocolate over pastry immediately.
o Top with chopped roasted almonds.
To complete the cream-filled choux
o Make a small hole on the shorter side of the choux.
o Spoon a teaspoon or so of cream pasticcera.
o Place 4 choux on a decorative platter close together.
o Poor the melted chocolate (when still hot) on the four choux (this will make them stick together).
o Top with roasted chopped almonds.
Keep in the fridge until needed.
The bigne shown in this entry were made by Marisa Pastore; the photo was taken by Mary Melfi