This dish was inspired by one of the recent episodes of Masterchef: the Professional on BBC. In this show, professional chefs battle to win the title of Professional Masterchef 2013. One of the first tests the chefs have to do (after an invention test and a technical challenge) is cooking a classic recipe from the hand of Michel Roux (a great chef and one of the presenters of the show). Usually the recipe is not very detailed and the chefs have to use their own knowledge and instincts to come to a good result, but for the viewers at home there usually is a recipe available on the BBC website. These choux were part of one of the classic recipes, but unfortunately the recipe is not available (or not yet) online… so I had to improvise myself, with great results. These choux are delicious, little, savoury, flavoursome bites, perfect as snack or appetizer. You can sprinkle some cheese on top of the choux before baking, but I always find it very messy and not adding much to the choux. You can also add some herbs or spices if you like.
Petit choux au fromage
55 g butter
125 ml water
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp sugar
70 g flour
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
250 ml milk (can be a bit less or more, depending on the desired consistency)
100 g cheese, grated (I used gouda, but something like parmesan, cheddar or emmentaler would work well too)
100 g jamon serrano, very finely chopped (you need to be able to pipe the mix into the choux, so the bits need to be small enough to not clog the piping tip)
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 220C. Combine the butter, water, salt and sugar in a sauce pan (I like to use an anti-stick one). Bring to the boil. Take off the heat, add the flour and stir well. Place back on low heat and keep stirring for 3 minutes. Take off the heat, pour over into a bowl and add the eggs one by one, stirring well until incorporated in between. Scoop into a piping bag fitted with a round tip and pipe small blobs (about 1/2 tbsp) of batter on a lined baking sheet. Use a wet finger to press down any pointy bits, otherwise they will burn. Place in the preheated oven, bake for 10 minutes at 220C, then turn down to 190C and bake for another 15 minutes (because these are very small you don’t need to prick a hole in the bottom and dry them out on a very low temperature to prevent collapsing). Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, prepare the cheese filling. Melt the butter in a sauce pan (I like to use an anti-stick one). Add the flour and stir until a paste forms and cook, while stirring, on low heat for about 1 minute to cook the flour. Gradually add the milk, bit by bit, while stirring, to get a smooth sauce. It should be quite thin, because the cheese will make it thicker and when it cools it will be thicker as well. Add the cheese and stir until incorporated and melted. Immediately take off the heat, and add the jamon serrano. Taste, and add some salt and/or pepper if necessary.
To finish, scoop the cheese sauce into a piping bag fitted with a small, round tip and pipe the sauce into the choux (use the piping bag/tip to make a small hole in the bottom of the choux). Serve immediately. You can make the choux and the sauce in advance and do the piping just before serving.