I watched a wonderful, French foodie movie for the second time recently, Haute Cuisine. It’s about President François Mitterrand’s personal chef, Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch, whom he hand-picked to create meals for himself and those closest to him. What a dream job.
In this movie several dishes feature prominently, including a choux farci au saumon (cabbage stuffed with salmon)….
…and, of course, the Saint-Honoré.
Élysée Palace, where the movie is set, is on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Saint Honoré is also the patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs.
I’ve seen recipes that incorporate pastry creme or chocolate ganache, but I’m using a traditional recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Tarts and Pastries, by Le Cordon Bleu. This version has four main components: sweet pastry, cream-puff pastry, Chantilly cream and caramel.
Sweet Pastry base: (you’ll need only half of this quantity; you can refrigerate the other half and save for making a tart later)
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- large pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2-3 drops vanilla extract
Sift together flour and salt in a large bowl.
Cut the butter into 1/2″ cubes and rub into the flour until a course texture forms. Stir in the sugar and make a well for the combined egg and vanilla.
Work dough together with a fork. Sprinkle with water to help with cohesion. Transfer the dough onto a work surface and knead gently until smooth.
Cream-Puff Pastry (or pâte à choux):
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 eggs
Sift the flour onto a sheet of waxed paper. Put 1/2 cup of water, the butter, salt and sugar into a small, heavy sauce pan. Heat until boiling. Remove from the heat and add all the flour at once. Stir well with a wooden spoon until the pastry comes away from the sides.
Roll the sweet pastry dough out to an 8″ circle about 1/8″ thick to form the base. Transfer to a baking sheet. Prick with a fork and brush with the beaten egg.
Pipe a second ring inside the first.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden.
On the second baking sheet, pipe the puff-pastry into walnut-sized balls. Brush with beaten egg and smooth so they are uniform.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
While these are cooling, put 1 cup of sugar in a heavy saucepan with 1/4 cup water and heat until sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to boiling and reduce the sugar mix, stirring constantly. Simmer until the sugar is a golden caramel color. Remove from heat.
Working very quickly, dip half each ball in the caramel and set aside to cool. You may need to reheat the caramel during this process. Dip a second time to cover the other half of each ball and place directly on the base rings. Try not to burn your fingers.
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Whip the cream in a chilled metal bowl until soft peaks form. Begin incorporating sugar and continue to whip, adding vanilla. Do not over whip.
Pipe the cream onto the base with a star nozzle. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
This dessert should serve six very happy people. Serve with a strong coffee. Enjoy!