British strawberries are everywhere at the moment, and they are so sweet and juicy it’s hard to resist them. They’re a delicious and healthy snack on their own or, if you have a very sweet tooth, dipped in a little sugar (not so healthy). Even better with cream or ice cream.
But before you scoff the whole punnet in one go, think about making this simple but stunning dessert.
Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, and fibre. In this recipe, I also use freeze-dried strawberries, which are just strawberries with the water removed. They tend to keep their flavour and most of the nutrients and add a bright pop of colour to the top of the buns.
Making choux pastry can scare some people, but it really isn’t that difficult. It’s the beating of the milk, water, butter and flour with a wooden spoon that takes the time and quite a lot of energy, but once this is done the rest of the mixing can be done with an electric whisk.
The mousse filling is rich and delicious enough to eat on its own served with a little white (or dark) chocolate drizzled ever the top, but is even better as a filling for these choux buns.
To make the strawberry mousse filling, put the chopped strawberries into a glass bowl, stir in the sugar and allow to stand for 15-20 minutes. When the strawberries have released their natural juices blitz them with an immersion blender until the mixture is relatively smooth and lump free.
In a separate bowl, whisk the double cream to stiff peaks then fold in the strawberry mixture. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
To make the choux pastry, sieve the flour into a bowl and add the sugar, leave to one side. Combine the water, milk, butter and sugar in a medium saucepan over a medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter has melted. As soon as the mixture begins to boil turn the heat right down and add the flour and sugar all at once. Stir vigorously until the flour is completely mixed in and a thick ball of dough forms. Keep stirring the dough and pressing against the bottom and sides of the pan for 1 minute, this will cook the flour.
Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool down for a few minutes. Meanwhile, beat the eggs together with a fork in a small jug. When the flour mixture has cooled down, and with the electric whisk on low, whisk the eggs into the flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each addition. The mixture will appear curdled at first, but will come together as you whisk. Pour in the final addition of beaten eggs slowly and stop adding when the choux pastry has reached the desired texture. It should be thick, smooth and glossy with a pipeable consistency. You may find you have a little egg left over, but this can be used to brush over you choux buns before cooking. This mixture can be used immediately or covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and splash with a little water, this will create some steam when the buns are cooking allowing them to puff up without drying out.
Pipe or spoon mounds of the choux pastry mixture onto the baking sheet leaving 2-3 cm between them. Using a water moistened finger, flatten down the peaks and lightly brush each with egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven then, while the choux buns are still in the oven, reduce oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Do not open the oven while the buns are cooking as cool air may stop them from puffing up properly. Remove from the oven and pierce the side of each bun to let the steam escape. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack before filling.
Put the strawberry mousse filling into a piping bag with a narrow tip and pipe into each bun until full. Melt the white chocolate in a microwave in 30 second blasts until completely melted, but be careful as chocolate burns easily in the microwave. Dip the top of each bun into the melted chocolate, sprinkle with chopped pistachios and freeze-dried strawberries and finish off with a little lime zest.