Ain’t it look like a small treasure to you? My eyes are all hearts when this tender pastry comes in sight.
And how about its name — religieuse? This french word stands for “nun” and, in my mind, it’s more than okay to make this masterpiece just because of its funny name 🙂
Technically religieuse is made of two choux pastries filled with cream, dipped in chocolate ganache and stacked one on another. So don’t let the name fool you, they are easier to make than it seems first! Just take one small step at a time. You can make caramel and decor on day one and then just bake pastries and finish assembling.
The idea of making this pastry came to me practically out of nowhere. I had a jar of perfectly smooth salted caramel leftovers from another recipe testing and I wanted to use it till the last drop. And now it’s time for confession — I’m a huge fan of everything caramell-y. Put it on top of practically anything and next second you’ll most likely find me licking it. So éclairs seemed like a good idea to fulfil my caramel craving. That’s later in the process I decided to pipe round pastries, dip them in chocolate and add crunchy finishing touch…
For the caramel sauce:
200 g granulated sugar
120 g heavy milk
85 g salted butter
1 tsp fleur de seul, optional
Prepare all ingredients in advance — caramel is a very demanding girl 🙂
Heat heavy milk in a microwave for 30 seconds, set aside.
Place sugar in the heavy bottom saucepan and heat it over medium-high heat. When sugar starts to melt, stir it with spatula. It may look a bit clumpy but keep stirring and heating and it will melt at the end. Continue to heat melted sugar until it reaches deep amber color.
Remove from the heat and slowly add heavy cream. Be careful — the mixture will start to bubble. Return to the heat and cook for 2 more minutes until the mixture becomes smooth. Remove from the heat again and start to gradually add pieces of butter. Stir well using spatula until all ingredients are well incorporated and sauce becomes silky and smooth. Add fleur de seul if desired.
Let the sauce cool down for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a clean glass jar.
For the caramel-sesame chunks:
100 g granulated sugar
30 g sesame
Melt sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan, add sesame and thoroughly stir everything together. Transfer caramel-sesame mixture into parchment paper and using long metal spatula make thin layer of it. Let it harden and then break into uneven pieces.
For the choux batter:
250 g water
5 g salt
5 g granulater sugar
100 g butter
150 g flour
vegetable oil, for brushing
Preheat the oven to 255 C/490 F and line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat 5 eggs in a bowl and whisk them well. Strain beaten eggs to another clean bowl, set aside.
In a bottom saucepan combine water, sugar, salt and pieces of butter. Place over the heat and stirring occasionally melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add all flour at once. Using spatula stir thoroughly so there is no dry spots of flour in the mixture. Return saucepan to the stove and let the mixture dry for 2-3 minutes, it should come together into a ball.
Place hot batter in the bowl of stand mixer and on very low speed cool it down for several minutes using paddle attachment. Gradually start to add beaten eggs, one tablespoon at a time, letting the batter come together after each portion. When eggs are fully incorporated continue to beat the mixture until it becomes silky and glossy and runs like lava from spatula.
Place batter in the piping bag with 12mm round tip. Pipe round pastries in two different sizes — small and large. Brush rounds with vegetable oil and place to the hot oven. Immediately turn the oven off and bake pastries for 10-15 minutes until they become larger in size. Then without opening the oven heat it up again to 170 C/340 F and continue to bake pastries until they become golden brown. It may take up to 30-35 minutes depending on the oven. Cooked pastry shells should feel dry and light.
Transfer rounds to the wire rack and let them cool completely.
For the caramel filling:
220 g cream cheese, at room temperature
150 g salted caramel sauce, at room temperature
50 g powdered sugar
50 g heavy cream
In a bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment beat cream cheese for several minutes. Add salted caramel and powdered sugar and mix until fully incorporated. Save 3 tablespoons of cream and place it into the piping bag with small star tip. Set aside.
Add heavy cream into the remaining mixture and thoroughly mix everything together. Place the cream into piping bag with small round tip. In the bottom of pastry shells make small holes with metal tip. Carefully pipe cream into shells.
For the dark chocolate ganache:
100 g dark chocolate, chopped
100 g heavy cream
10 g butter, at room temperature
Heat heavy cream in the microwave for 30-40 seconds. Pour heavy cream over chocolate chunks, let them sit for 3 minutes and then stir mixture with spatula. Heat mixture for 15 seconds and stir carefully, repeat several times until the mixture looks like smooth emulsion. Add butter and stir well. Let the ganache cool for 10-15 minutes. Then dip top of pastry shells into ganache and let it harden a bit.
To assembly religieuse, place small shell on a larger one, carefully press to seal them together. Using piping bag with small star tip pipe peaks starting from the bottom of small shell. Pipe small star on the top of small shell and garnish with caramel-sesame chunk.
Whew… It took me forever to put the recipe into words, but believe me — it’s not that difficult when you start to make it. Give religieuse a try! 😉