Choux pastry is unfairly considered to be quite a difficult pastry to make, and this could not be further from the truth. Unlike many other pastries it doesn’t require a light touch or careful rolling! If you can stir a spoon, you can make choux pastry!
Choux is the French word for cabbage which is an apt description of these little irregular cabbage like balls of delight. It is different to other pastries as it is cooked twice; once to make the choux paste itself and again to transform the paste into a puffed up hollow pastry!
Choux pastry is a light crisp, airy pastry that can be used to make profiteroles drowned in chocolate sauce, cream filled éclairs, praline packed Paris-Brest, or cheesy gougères.
You can consider choux pastry a little like a puff pastry. It rises up when baked in the oven giving it it’s super light and airy texture. This lightness is caused by the choux’s high water content, which allows the surface of the pastry to set while the interior is still nearly liquid. This liquid turns to steam during baking, creating small air pockets which combine together, expanding into one large bubble, forcing the pastry shell outwards, giving it it’s volume.
Once you’ve mastered this pastry you’ll be making perfect profiteroles, amazing éclairs or even a crowd pleasing croquembouche. But it doesn’t end there, you can boil little droplets of this pastry for some Parisienne gnocchi, or deep fry for some light, crispy beignets. The world is your choux ball.
— Al Brady