Tuesday, 1 March 2011


When I was in Paris last year, I kept walking into patisseries and laboriously requesting in my painful French the things I was familiar with and felt should rightfully be ordered when in a real Parisian patisserie – croissants, macarons. Then the person behind the counter would inevitably respond in excellent English. Anyway. Familiar tale.

So. I kept seeing these golden blob-like objects covered in large white granules and eventually, out of curiosity, asked for one along with a baguette. The woman said, ‘Just one?’ and looked knowing. I took just the one and stuffed it in my greedy tourist mouth just outside the shop – and had to immediately retrace my steps as though on puppet-strings and buy six more.

They were light as air, buttery, nothingness and substance, and the crunch of every grain of pearl sugar was a surprise. I didn’t know their name. 

I took this picture of the unidentified objects and posted it on Twitter and publicly refused to come back to Melbourne until a source was made available, but no one in Melbourne took heed, and we had return flights and arrangements with catsitters and workplaces, so I was forced to back down and return ignominiously to a land without chouquettes.

Well, I couldn’t sleep one night this week and my lack of chouquettes weighed on my mind. Dear reader, I got up and made some damn chouquettes like a dog no longer sitting on a tack. (I’d been working up to it – I’d recently spent many hours trying to find pearl sugar (aka crystal sugar, rock sugar, nib sugar, parlsucker) online and going on a wild goose chase to Ikea before submitting to David Jones’s Food Hall where I shelled out twelve bucks for a small bag.) I took the internet shortcut and third in Google was the trusty David Lebovitz. I followed everything but the choc chips – my Paris chouquettes never had choc chips.

I had everything required, which made it seem meant to be. That never happens. Novelty sugar aside, it’s butter, flour, egg, all in a saucepan melted and mixed together, a bit like a roux. I love those recipes that undergo an instant transformation when flour is introduced to melted butter and morphs into a neat ball, leaving the saucepan spotless. Then piped into blobs, eggwashed and studded with pearl sugar. Nothing to it.

They’re great right out of the oven, great an hour later, great for late-morning tea. Their vaguely crisp, egg-whiffy charm doesn’t last indefinitely, though. I took mine straight into the work kitchen, from whence they thinned out until there were only a few left – I gathered them up at the end of the day to take home for The Guitar Teacher – he appreciates what scraps are left – and they’d become soft and somehow clammy.  He still appreciated them.

1 comment:

  1. And boy were the ones you made tasty beyond measure. I might have had three.