Recipe: Ruth Pretty’s Swans with Strawberry Cream
These choux pastry swans make a sweet addition to a sumptuous afternoon spread.
Words & recipe: Ruth Pretty Styling & photos: Carolyn Robertson
The components for this dessert can be made in advance, but assembled swans are best eaten the day they’re made.
8 Choux Pastry Swan Bodies (recipe follows)
8 Choux Pastry Swan Necks (recipe follows)
200g white chocolate, roughly chopped
Strawberry Cream (recipe follows)
edible gold leaf, optional
To assemble the swans: Cut the choux pastry swan bodies horizontally using a serrated knife. Slice top halves lengthwise to form wings.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Dip the top half of each wing into the chocolate and set aside on a foil-lined tray.
Fit a piping bag with a small, star-shaped nozzle and fill with Strawberry Cream. Fill the cavity of each swan body with Strawberry Cream, then gently insert the neck and wings. Garnish wings with gold leaf if desired.
Choux Pastry Swan Bodies and Necks
110g butter, chopped
140g flour, sifted
3 to 4 eggs, lightly beaten
Heat oven to 220°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Bring butter and water to the boil in a small saucepan set over medium heat, then remove from the heat. Add all the flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon, then return to the heat and continue to beat until the batter doesn’t stick to the sides of the saucepan. Remove from the heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
Gradually add eggs, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat for a few minutes or until the paste is smooth. (You may not need all the beaten eggs.) The mixture should have a dropping consistency.
To form the swan bodies: If you can manage a piping bag, fit one with a large star nozzle and fill with half of the choux paste. Pipe paste, or alternatively spoon and spread, onto a baking tray, so it looks like a large, tapered éclair. Aim for 3cm width at one end, narrowing gradually to finish in a point at the other. The swan bodies need to be about 6cm long.
To make the swan necks: Fit a piping bag with a plain 5mm nozzle and fill with remaining choux paste. Pipe 8 S shapes 6cm long, or spoon and spread the paste to this shape and dimension. Remember that God did not create all swans perfect.
Reduce oven temperature to 210°C. Put the swan bodies in the oven and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, without opening the oven door, then turn down to 190°C for 5 to 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and prick the bottoms with the small point of a knife. Reduce oven temperature to 150°C and bake the bodies for another 15 minutes, until the centres are dry and crisp.
Bake necks at 200°C for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden. Cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container until required.
Put 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and sprinkle over 1 teaspoon powdered gelatine. Leave to sponge for 5 minutes.
Heat 50ml cream until hot, but not boiling, then stir into the gelatine mixture until it’s dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
Pour 200ml cream into a bowl and add the gelatine mixture and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. Whip to just before soft-peak stage, then fold in ⅓ cup strawberry jam. Cover and chill for up to 48 hours.
Makes 2 cups
Green Kiwifruit with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Flaky Salt
Peel 6 green kiwifruit and cut into 1.5cm slices, removing any wooden core. Arrange on a platter and drizzle generously with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons flaky sea salt and serve immediately.