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Double Your Cream Puff: How to Make Religieuse

Are you ready for a religieuse experience? 

If you like cream puffs, you’ll love religieuse.

These towering, cream-filled French pastries are steeped in history — and said to take their name from their resemblance to a nun’s habit.

But perhaps the most important things to know about religieuse are that they are delicious and actually quite easy to make. True, they require a few components, which means they are somewhat time-consuming, but when you make the cream filling and buttercream ahead, it’s actually a baking project that is suitable for all levels.

Pink religieuse pastry

How to make religieuse

Ingredients:

For the pâte à choux pastry

Pastry recipe slightly adapted from Eugenie Kitchen

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter  
  • ½ cup water 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, sifted 
  • 2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

For the filling:

  • 1 cup cream filling (recipe here), pudding, custard or buttercream

For the topping

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Pinch salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A few drops of food coloring in your desired color

To garnish

  • Approximately ¼ cup vanilla buttercream 
  • 4 white chocolate chips (can also use candied cherries, fruit, nuts or any other items of your choosing) 

Mise en place: For the quickest preparation, have your cream filling and the buttercream for garnish prepared ahead of time. The glaze should be prepared shortly before using. 

Step 1:

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Step 2:

Combine the butter, water and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Apply medium heat, and stir frequently until the butter is melted and the mixture begins to slightly simmer. 

Step 3:

Remove from heat, and immediately add the flour. Mix using a wooden spoon until the flour is totally combined; it will be a dough-like mixture. 

Step 4:

Second heating

Put the pan back over low heat, moving the mixture around to prevent scorching, until it can easily be formed into a ball. This second heating won’t take long at all, a minute or less. 

Step 5:

Remove from heat and let cool for 3-5 minutes, or until warm to the touch but not hot. 

Step 6:

Pâte à Choux

Transfer the mixture to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Begin beating on low, and slowly pour the egg mixture into the dough. Continue mixing until the batter is shiny and lump free. 

Step 7:

Piped batter

Load the mixture into a pastry bag. On your lined sheet, pipe four approximately 3″ circles, and four approximately 1½” circles. You may find it easier to draw the circles on the parchment (flip it so that you’re not piping directly on the graphite) to keep the sizes consistent.

Step 8:

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden and puffy.

Note: The smaller pastries may bake faster. I removed mine at about 17 minutes, and then let the larger pastries bake for another couple of minutes (about 20 minutes total).

Step 9:

Choux

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. If your larger pastries deflate a little, don’t panic; they’re going to be filled and stacked with the second smaller pastries, anyway.

Step 10: 

Filled pastries

Once cooled, make a hole in the top or slightly off to the side of each of the pastries, both large and small. Load your cream filling into a pastry bag, and using a round tip, pipe cream into each of the pastries. You don’t need to overload them, but make sure that each gets a nice amount of filling for optimum enjoyment.

Step 11: 

Icing

Prepare your glaze. In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, heavy cream, salt, vanilla and a few drops of food coloring. Whisk until there are no lumps. You want the consistency to be fairly thick so that it won’t drip too much when you top the pastries. If it is too thin, add a little extra sugar; if it is too thick, add a little extra cream. 

Step 12: 

Iced pastries

Dip the tops of each pastry (large and small) in the glaze. Let the excess glaze drip off before transferring to a wire rack. Stack the smaller pastries atop the larger ones while the glaze is still wet, to ensure a seal. Press the garnish of your choosing (I used white chocolate morsels) on top of the smaller pastries. 

Step 13: 

Once the glaze has set, use a star tip to pipe side-by-side lines of buttercream going from the bottom of the smaller pastries up to about the level of where the icing ends. Your pastries are ready to enjoy! 

Religieuse

Make this recipe your own!

Once you have the basic technique down for making religeuse pastries, you can experiment with any number of flavors and colors. For instance, you might choose to use chocolate mousse as the filling, and top the pastries with a homemade chocolate ganache. Or, you might choose to fill the pastries with stabilized whipped cream and top them with a rosewater-scented violet tinted glaze. 

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