Give a Mediterranean and Greek twist to your appetizers or your Christmas cocktail evening with savory Christmas choux this year.
By Giorgio Pintzas Monzani
Savory puffs of choux pastry with leek and pumpkin filling, along with feta cheese, will add just that Greek feel to your Christmas celebration this year. Let’s take a look at how to create these delectables from scratch. Alternately, if you are pressed for time, you can always ask your local pastry shop for some empty puffs, and you’ll have just the filling to create at this extremely busy time of year.
This recipe will make approximately 30/35 choux puffs.
For the choux:
120 grams of water
75 grams all purpose flour
60 grams unsalted butter
A pinch of salt
For the filling:
½ a butternut squash (500/600 gr)
1 clove of garlic
200 grams feta cheese
To make the choux:
Place water, butter and salt in a small saucepan; bring everything to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and add the sifted flour all at once.
Stir until you get a smooth mixture: then put the pot back on the heat and cook the mixture until it has dried out and starts to sizzle.
Remove everything from the heat again; let it cool and then add the eggs, one at a time.
Do not add the next egg until the first one has been completely incorporated. (This can be done with a kitchen whisk).
Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag with a round nozzle. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet, and form your puffs of the size you prefer with your piped batter, making sure however that they are no larger than a walnut.
Bake in a preheated oven at 356 degrees Fahrenheit 25 minutes, then turn the oven off for 10 minutes and cool to room temperature.
The choux can be stored up to two days in a sealed container (not in the fridge).
And now, the filling:
Clean the leek, then slice it thinly and place the slices in a saucepan to sauté over low heat together with the entire garlic clove and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
In the meantime, use a knife to remove the skin from the pumpkin and cut it into irregular cubes.
Once the leek is sautéed, add the pumpkin flesh, a teaspoon of salt, and a generous grating of pepper.
Let everything brown together for one minute. Remove the garlic clove and then add water to cover the mixture.
Let it all cook over medium-low heat, until the water has mostly evaporated and the squash is soft. Then blend the mixture until you have a creamy mousse.
If the mixture is too soft, you can put it back over the flame and let it dry out, being careful not to burn it.
To the side, crumble up some feta cheese (leaving a little bit for decoration). Add the cheese to the pumpkin mousse and mix everything together.
Now you can taste and check if the amount of salt is right for you.
Finally, using the pastry bag again, fill your puffs from the bottom.
You can serve them by decorating the top with a dollop of filling and some crumbled feta cheese, for a snowy effect.
Have fun making and eating these, and happy holidays!
Giorgio Pintzas Monzani is a Greek-Italian chef, writer and consultant who lives in Milan. His Instagram page can be found here.