Bigne al Cioccolato
Beignets with Chocolate Sauce
Makes 32 pastry puffs
Beignets are considered French, but they were actually invented in Florence and exported to France by a Florentine chef in the court of Catherine de Medicis. Back then, bigne were called pasta siringa (syringe pastry) because chefs used a syringe to shoot the cream into the puff pastry. I also like the puffs sliced in half and filled with good gelato instead of pastry cream.
1 cup water
1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 recipe Pastry Cream (pg 87)
1 recipe Chocolate Sauce (pg 320)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a baking sheet.
2. Place the water and butter in a medium saucepan and heat over medium until the water boils and the butter melts, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and and add the salt and the flour all at once, stirring until a dough ball forms. Return to the heat for 1 minute, stirring, to dry out the dough. If you want a sweeter dough, add the sugar here and blend well. Let the mixture cool slightly, while stirring 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Beat the eggs, one at a time, until the dough is shiny and smooth. Drop the dough by the tablespoon, 2 inches apart, on a baking sheet. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake the puffs on the middle rack of the oven for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Continue baking until the puffs are firm and golden, about 15 minutes. Let them cool completely on a rack.
4. If you have a pastry bag, fill it with the pastry cream. With a knife, make a small slit in the bottom of a puff and pipe in a little of the cream. (If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can use a serrated knife to cut the puffs in half and spoon a little of the cream between the halves. Replace the tops and arrange the puffs on a plate.) If you do this too long before you serve them, the puffs will get soggy. It’s best to fill them right before you serve them. When you are ready to bring the plate to the table, spoon the chocolate sauce over the filled puffs
Salsa di Cioccolato
2 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Up to ¼ cup water
½ cup sugar
⅝ cup heavy cream
1. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, mix the chocolate, the cocoa powder, and water stirring constantly as the chocolate melts. The sauce will become thick and difficult to stir. Remove it from the heat and continue stirring, then add the sugar. Return the sauce to the heat and stir until the sugar dissolves, making sure to get all the lumps out. Add the cream and combine until smooth.
2. Remove the chocolate from the heat and let it cool a few minutes before spooning it over the semifreddo.