Made from fried pâte à choux (the same base for cream puffs and éclairs), chouxnuts are the love child of a cream-filled doughnut and a churro. Frying choux eliminates the long wait of a yeasted doughnut’s two rises with a light and airy result. Chouxnuts don’t need a filling to be delicious, just a generous dusting of sugar before serving. But adding fragrant Earl Grey cream or vanilla cream with an espresso glaze perfectly complements the light pastry. It’s a welcome riff on tea and coffee—the perfect afternoon treat.
- Cut parchment paper into 3-inch squares and arrange them on a large sheet pan in a single layer. Set aside.
- Combine the butter, sugar, salt, and 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
- Once the mixture has come to a boil, add the flour to the pot all at once and begin to stir vigorously with a heatproof spoon. Stir until the mixture resembles dry mashed potatoes and begins to pull away from the sides of the pot—about 1–2 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the first three eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition. The addition of each egg will cause the mixture to appear broken and slimy. Stir until the mixture has fully emulsified and come back together before adding each subsequent egg.
- In a small bowl, gently whisk the fourth egg and add only half of it to the mixture. Mix well until fully combined.
- Test the consistency of your batter: It should be glossy and luscious. If you take a large spoonful and allow it to fall back into the bowl, it should leave a clean “V” shape of batter hanging from the spoon.
- Add the other half of the last egg if necessary to achieve the correct texture, and mix to fully combine. If the batter is still too thick, you may add a small amount of water, a teaspoon at a time, until the right consistency is achieved.
- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a large, open star tip. If you do not have a piping bag or tip, feel free to use a large Ziploc bag. Snip off one corner to make a ¾-inch opening for piping. Your chouxnuts won’t have the decorative look that a star tip provides, but they will taste just as good. Set aside. Choux pastry will keep for 2 days in the refrigerator; store it in a piping bag. It keeps better in this form than once cooked, as chouxnuts will get soggy over time.
- Fill a medium saucepan with 3 inches of neutral frying oil and place over medium-high heat. Use an instant read or alarm thermometer to monitor the temperature of your oil until it reaches 380°F. (The ideal temperature for deep-frying is 350–375°F, but heating the oil to a slightly higher temperature compensates for the heat that is lost when the chouxnuts are added. Don’t allow it to get too much hotter, as canola oil has a smoke point of 400°F.) If necessary, take the pot off the heat for a few moments to cool it down.
- Meanwhile, pipe a 2½–3-inch circle of choux pastry on each of the parchment squares.
- When the oil has reached 380°F, you may begin frying. Carefully place two chouxnuts, parchment paper and all, into the hot oil, parchment side up. They will immediately begin to puff up. After a minute or two, use tongs to carefully remove the parchment squares. Only cook 2–3 chouxnuts at a time to avoid crowding the pan.
- Fry chouxnuts for about 5 minutes before flipping them over. Cook for an additional 4–5 minutes on the second side. The chouxnuts should be a deep golden brown. If they are pale, flip them over and fry them for an additional minute on each side. Remove chouxnuts to a paper-towel-lined sheet pan.
- Repeat until all the chouxnuts have been fried.
- To fill and finish chouxnuts: Use a paring knife to make 2 small holes in the bottom of a chouxnut. Insert the end of a piping bag into each of the holes and squeeze to fill until the pastry feels noticeably heavier.
- For an Earl Grey chouxnut, roll the pastry in sugar while it is still hot: place ½ cup of granulated sugar in a small bowl, add the chouxnut, and toss to coat. Allow the chouxnut to cool before filling with Earl Grey cream.
- For an affogato-inspired chouxnut, cool completely, then fill with vanilla cream and drizzle espresso glaze over the top.
- Serve immediately. Chouxnuts are best eaten when fresh. Filled chouxnuts will keep for a day in the refrigerator, while unfilled chouxnuts will keep for a day on the counter in a loosely covered container.
Zola Gregory is a writer and recipe developer based in Seattle. Having previously worked as a pastry chef and baker, she now enjoys helping others find success in their own kitchens through her stories, recipes, and baking classes.