Retro Cooking

Retro Cooking: 1930’s Inspired Stuffed Choux

I love a good chou. It is such a satisfying thing to make. As you mix it, it feels like it’s going wrong, won’t work (or at least that’s my personal experience every single time), then all of a sudden, you get the right consistency and your faith in the culinary world returns. I love to watch them grow into adorable little crisp balls in the oven.

Co-VID and having the summer off mean I have a lot of free time to walk around in circles in our small New York apartment. On one of these apartment walks, my eyes locked on a classic cookbook I found a few years ago but never read through: Joy of Cooking by Rombauer & Becker. The book was first published in 1931, and several editions were published ever since.

As I browsed through their “Canapés and tea sandwiches” section, I was surprised to find choux ideas in there. I guess I always thought of choux as a sweet dessert but who am I to judge?

So I followed the cookbook’s recipe for choux paste and decided to make half sweet ones, and half savory ones. The recipe for choux paste was pretty straight forward, as I believe most are.

Savory Choux

For the savory fillings, I went for two of the suggestions from the book (let’s be honest, I chose based on what ingredients I already had on hand), although since there were no exact recipes, I had to improvise a bit. The first suggestion was “deviled ham, cream cheese and catsup” and the second one was simply “chicken salad”.

For the ham filling, I used a can of “deviled ham” I bought as a joke and didn’t know if I would ever use it. As the filling description suggested, I mixed it with a few tablespoons of cream cheese and a generous amount of ketchup. The final result was odd but somehow a bit familiar, reminding me of the ham salad sandwiches of my childhood (although I am certain my mom would like you to know that she grinded her own ham and mixed it with mayo and yellow mustard). I guess, to me, ham is ham in the end. I wouldn’t be surprised if most people were disgusted by this filling but, to be honest, I didn’t mind it at all.

For the chicken salad filling, I used what I found in the fridge: chopped rotisserie chicken, mayo and leftover arugula pesto. I would normally go for curry powder for seasoning but this was a nice change.

Sweet Choux

For the sweet choux, I went full Canadian: maple all the choux! The book didn’t have a clear recipe to follow (maple or not) so I made a crème pâtissière (and added some maple syrup for good measure) for the filling, and then a maple frosting for the outside. Now I might be bias as my Canadian blood is constantly craving anything maple but I reallllllly enjoyed these. Thankfully, I was able to share these with friends and they seemed to agree with my assessment.

While my brain will always go towards sweet options first, discovering savory choux was a nice surprise. I might use more contemporary fillings in the future, but I really like the idea of using them to make little sandwiches for dinner parties. Have you ever made savory choux? There seems to be so many possibilities!

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