Religieuse is a French pastry where two cream puffs are placed on top of each other. In this recipe, the puffs are filled with a vanilla flavoured buttrcream and covered with a glossy dark chocolate icing.
Preheat the oven to 190 C / Gas 5. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
In a saucepan, bring the water to the boil with the butter and salt. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the flour all at once. Mix well. The mixture should come off the sides of the pan and form a ball.
Add the eggs one at a time. Mix well until smooth and shiny.
Put the mixture into a pastry bag. Pipe walnut sized choux pastries on the first baking tray. On the second baking sheet, pipe choux pastries the size of a small clementine. Leave ample space between them as they will double in size during baking. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. I recommend baking the two trays one after another because the smaller choux pastry bakes faster. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Make the buttercream
n a small saucepan, beat the egg with the sugar until white and fluffy.
Add the milk and a vanilla bean. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly. Bring to the boil, then immediately remove the pan from the heat. Take out the vanilla pod and let cool.
In a bowl, cream the butter.
While continuing to whisk, gradually incorporate the milk and sugar mixture. Stir until smooth.
Fill the mixture in two piping bags: a large piping bag with a round nozzle for filling the puffs and a smaller piping bag with a piping tip suitable for decorative rosettes.
The choux are easiest to fill when they are cold so place them in the freezer for a few minutes. Fill the puffs with the buttercream.
Make the icing
Heat the water and icing sugar in a small saucepan. When the sugar is melted and the water begins to boil, pour the syrup over the cocoa in a small bowl and stir well.
Soak the gelatin in cold water. Bring the cream to the boil. Remove the gelatin from the water and squeeze it then add to the hot cream and stir until dissolved.
Add the cocoa syrup and stir until smooth. The mixture must be homogeneous, without lumps and without air bubbles. Leave to cool to 30 C (use the thermometer or touch with a finger).
Dip the top of each choux pastry into the icing.
Let the icing run off and if necessary, dip the choux pastry in the icing again, for a perfect and smooth icing. Place the puffs on a large serving plate and let the icing set.
Use the remaining buttercream to pipe rosettes on the large choux pastries.
Place the smaller choux pastries on top of the larger ones.
Pipe small buttercream rosettes on top of the religieuses. Chill until serving.
This recipe makes more choux pastry than needed for 6 religieuses. Select the prettiest and use the rest to make profiteroles or another dessert.