I am so excited to share these French Snowmen with you - partly because I came up with the idea myself, and partly because I love the idea of combining my French theme with a Christmas theme! These snowmen are made up of French profiteroles..yes that's right, delicious choux pastry! You can fill them with Christmas brandy custard, or leave them empty like I did. The funnest part, like always, is coming up with different looks for your snowmen. I made a red and green snowman, and a baby pink girl snowman. What would you try out?
Ingredients for Profiteroles
2g caster sugar
1g sea salt
100g unsalted butter
175g 00 [bakers] flour, or alternatively plain flour
4-5 eggs [approx 60-70g)
Method for Pastry
Place cold water, salt and sugar in a pot; bring to a gentle boil. Meanwhile cut the butter into 1cm dice cubes and add to pot so butter just melts as water approaches gentle boil (should be around 98 degrees). At that point add all of the sifted flour. Mix immediately over low heat with wooden spoon. Dough will come away from sides of pot and develop a gloss; cook in order to bind for about 2-3 minutes. You will know roughly when it is glossy, bound and steam is coming off mixture. Remove from heat, keep stirring for 2 minutes off the heat to let it cool slightly. A trick to test if it's cool enough is to touch with your fingers and if they don't hurt/burn then it's fine. This is important otherwise the eggs, which are now to be added, will simply scramble. Add 1 of the eggs, and incoroporate thoroughly. Then add another, and incorporate. Keep going until all eggs are in and the mixture is not to dry or stiff. A trick to testing if the choux pastry is going okay is to see if it slowly falls off the spoon when held up in the air over the bowl. The paste should ultimately be a piping consistency ie. hold up on the tray. Line a tray, pop the paste in a piping bag and start piping into round cone like piles (see tutorial here if confused). Be aware that to make a snowman, you need a larger profiterole on the bottom, and a smaller on the top. You will want to pipe 2 slightly different sizes. Avoid having a very triangle-cone shape. Use a 8-10mm straight nozzle in the piping bag and water to smooth any mishapen shapes. Bake at 190 degrees in moist oven until fully risen, 8 or so minutes. When I say moist - spray your oven with some water from a bottle before poping the tray in. Alternatively pop a small stainless steel bowl full of water at the bottom tray of your oven. Now you need a dry oven to colour the pastry for another 6 minutes or until golden in colour then drop temperature to 140-150 degrees to dry out inside of pastry, another 10-15 minutes necessary baking time. Remove and place on cooling rack.
Ingredients and tools for Decorating Snowmen
300g white chocolate melts
Zappo sour string lollies, or fondant strips (for scarves and hat)
1 fresh carrot, cut into small triangles (for noses)
black fondant, rolled into small little dots (for eyes)
edible glitter (for decoration)
+ scissors, for cutting
+ long wooden skewer, for holding the snowmen together
+ teaspoon, for spreading chocolate
+ tray lined with baking paper
+ tweezers, for placing small bits of fondant (such as the eyes, or pom pom on the hat)
Once the profiteroles are cooled, you can start decorating them. Place all the profiteroles on the paper lined baking tray. Place a small pot of water on the stove, and place a bowl on top of the saucepan. Inside the bowl, melt together the copha and white chocolate. Now take 1 profiterole and completely dip it in white chocolate. Return it to the tray and, working quickly, dip the rest of the profiteroles in the chocolate. Place the tray in the freezer. Once the chocolate is set, you can dip all of the profiteroles in the white chocolate again. This is necessary to make the profiteroles really white. If you only dip them once, you will still be able to see some of the choux pastry. Return to freezer. Once completely set, take 2 profiteroles out. Choose the best fit profiteroles (ie. you want a larger one on the bottom, and a smaller on the top). Take the long wooden skewer and gently pierce the smaller profiterole in the top vertically. Pierce it through the bottom and then into the top of the 2nd profiterole so you have a little stack that is held together tightly with the skewer. Stick the black round fondant eyes on to the smaller profiterole (the head). You can use left over melted white chocolate as glue, if necessary. You will definitely need some white chocolate-glue to stick the carrot nose on. The carrot nose also goes on the smaller profiterole (the head). Now wrap 2 zappo sour lollies around the neck of the snowman. Glue it with the melted white chocolate. Cut the ends of the zappo lollies to create a scarf look. Now take another zappo lolly (the length of mine was about 10cm) and wrap it around the top of the smaller profiterole to create a hat. Stick it with white chocolate. It will wrap around the skewer slightly for support. Cut off any excess zappo not needed to make the hat shape. Now cut a small round circle from the zappo lolly, dip it in white chocolate, dip it in edible glitter and stick it to the top of the hat to create a pom pom on top of the hat (it will need some skewer for support too). Use the teaspoon or tweezers to help you spread the glue-chocolate and place the pom pom. You have now created a Christmas hat. Finish off the christmas hat by cutting a thin strip of zappo, dipping it in white chocolate, dipping it in glitter and sticking it to the base of your zappo-lolly-hat. Using fondant or zappo lollies, cut 2 more small round circles and dip them both in white chocolate and glitter. Stick them below the scarf (on the belly of the snowman) to create buttons. Leave in freezer for 20 minutes to set before very, very carefully cutting the excess skewer off. Continue to decorate the rest of the snowmen in this process, but take your own creative license to decide if you want buttons, or pom poms on your hat, or what colour you want, or if you want to add a smile etc etc. Enjoy!