A religieuse, meaning Nun, is traditionally two choux pastry buns filled with chocolate crème patisserie, covered with ganache and decorated with a piped cream ruffle, supposedly representing the papal mitre. This version skews tradition, swapping out the ganache for white chocolate and adding a nutty pistachio filling. The praline paste may seem time consuming, but it tastes great in the crème pat, and it makes it a bit more decadent than plain cream. These work just as well as single profiteroles- but then there’s less to eat and that’s never a good thing!
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MAKES ten religeuses
PREP 15 mins for praline paste plus cooling time, 10 mins for pastry, 15 mins for crème patisserie filling
COOK 30 mins
▪ Best eaten on day of preparation.
FOR THE PISTACHIO PRALINE PASTE
FOR THE CHOUX PASTRY
75g plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
FOR THE CRÈME PATISSERIE FILLING
3 egg yolks
20g plain flour
1 ½ tsp cornflour
1tsp vanilla essence
50g Praline Paste
100g white chocolate, melted
Milk chocolate, to grate
1 Start by making the praline paste. Shell the pistachios, then cover in boiling water and leave soaking for two minutes. Drain and rub in paper towels or a clean teacloth to remove the skins. Add the sugar to a non-stick saucepan and melt over a medium heat, swirling the sugar rather than stirring. It will start to melt- keep swirling to stop it burning in one place. When it is like brown and runny like caramel, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pistachios. Pour onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and leave to cool.
2 This is pistachio praline. To make the paste, smash the praline into pieces and add to a blender or chopper. Blitz until the praline is in tiny pieces. Keep going until the oil starts to come out of the pistachios- you might need to add a drop of vegetable oil to help it- and it forms a paste.
3 Next, make the choux pastry. Preheat the oven to 220°c/426°f. Heat the butter and water in a pan until it starts to boil. Take it off the heat then quickly whisk in the flour (a balloon whisk works well). Cook for two minutes to cook out the flour. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes. Whisk in the eggs a little at a time, ensuring the mixture is smooth before adding the next bit.
4 Fill a piping bag with the pastry and pipe in even mounds on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Pipe an equal number of large and small mounds. Cook in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 190°c/375°f and cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove the buns from the oven, pierce each with a knife or skewer, then cook for a final 5 minutes to dry out. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
5 For the crème patisserie filling, mix the eggs and sugar together in a bowl and whisk in the flours. Heat the milk in a saucepan over a low heat until it is just warm (it will start to steam). Pour the warmed milk onto the eggs and sugar and whisk well, then return to the pan. Add the vanilla and the praline paste and heat, stirring until thick.
6 Pipe the filling into the cooled buns, then dip all the buns in the melted white chocolate. Sandwich the smaller ones on top of the larger ones and sprinkle with a little grated chocolate. Chill in the fridge to set the chocolate. ▪