For Choux Pastry:
1 cup/ 250mls water
120g unsalted butter, cubed
Pinch of salt
150g plain flour
4 large eggs, room temperature
Icing sugar for sprinkling
For Ricotta Cream Filling:
375g smooth ricotta
3/4 cup (180mls) thickened cream
3 heaped tblspns icing sugar
1-2 tspns Vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
To make the Choux Puffs:
Heat oven to 190DegC fan forced
In a med sized saucepan, heat water, butter and salt. Stir to melt butter.
Bring to a rolling boil, immediately add flour all at once and remove from heat. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture comes together as a ball. Place back onto med heat and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously until you have a starch film on bottom of pan. Place mixture into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly, 4-5 minutes.
Lightly beat eggs and add them to flour mixture, a quarter at a time, ensuring that each quarter is completely incorporated before adding the next. Your choux pastry will now be smooth with a glossy sheen. (Retain the eggy bowl for later)
Spoon mixture into a large piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe pastry (roughly the size of an apricot) onto lined baking tray about 4cms apart. (Lift the piping bag directly upwards). Using your finger, wet with egg residue from your bowl and very gently press down any unwanted peaks. Bake for 35-40 minutes until crispy and deep golden brown. Remove and place on a cooling rack. Make a small slit on side to allow steam to escape. Cool.
To Make the Filling:
Beat together all ingredients for 2-3 mins until smooth and peaked. Spoon into a piping bag. Cut puffs in half and remove tops. Fill with piped ricotta cream and replace top of the puff. Dust with icing sugar and serve.
Puffs: Can be made day before and stored in an airtight container or frozen and defrosted. A couple of hours before serving, refresh in hot oven for 5-8 minutes until crispy again. Cool for 15 minutes before filling.
Ricotta Cream: Can be made the day before and stored in piping bag in the fridge.
Tip: Quick way to bring eggs to room temperature: place them in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes.
Starch molecules swell when heated and absorb the liquid. Thus making the dough stronger. Although the starch loses its elasticity. When in the oven, the dough will rise from capturing the air and moisture and will be strong enough to rise and because of no elasticity, will not deflate back down again.