Choux pastry is a lot easier than you might think, and very satisfying when you add the flour and it all forms a smooth ball within seconds.
Prep time: 20 mins
Baking time: 30 mins
Decorating time: 15 mins
For the choux
85g unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
50g plain flour
50g strong white flour
3 medium eggs
Filling of your choice (eg whipped cream with added icing sugar and flavouring, or creme diplomat)
200g dark chocolate, melted
Chocolate sprinkles (for hedgehog back)
Round chocolate sprinkles (for hedgehog nose and ears)
Black food dye
Vodka or gin
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/400F/gas mark 6.
To make the choux pastry, chop the butter and add it to a small saucepan with the water and salt. Heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is starting to bubble. Meanwhile, weigh out both flours in a separate bowl. When the butter mixture is bubbling, remove it from the heat and add all the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a smooth ball that pulls away from the sides very easily.
Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment fitted. Leave to cool for five to 10 minutes.
Add two eggs, one at a time, mixing on slow speed after each addition until combined. Whisk the third egg in a separate bowl and add gradually, a tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition, until the dough is glossy and a “v” remains when you lift a spoon out.
Transfer to a piping bag and cut a medium-size tip. Pipe 24-30 small shapes on to a baking tray (or two) lined with greaseproof paper – squeezing firmly at a 45-degree angle and then slowly pulling across and squeezing less. One side of each shape should be taller than the other. Remember that the choux will be two or three times as big once baked. You can bake the trays one at a time: the piped choux pastry will be fine waiting.
Bake for 10 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 180C/160C fan/350F/gas mark 4. Bake for a further 20 minutes. Don’t open the oven until at least 25 minutes have passed, to avoid the pastry deflating.
When baked, immediately pierce each choux bun underneath to let the air escape. Allow to cool, then prepare your filling and pipe inside. Decorate by covering three-quarters of each bun with melted chocolate, followed by chocolate sprinkles. Paint the faces using food dye mixed with a little alcohol. Use round chocolate sprinkles for the noses and ears, sticking them on with more melted chocolate.