Serves: Makes 8 to 12 servings
- Choux Pastry:
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ cup water
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 5 or 6 eggs, at room temperature
- Egg Wash:
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- Salmon Filling:
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons finely minced yellow onion
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- ½teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
- 1 cup (about 6 ounces) flaked cooked or smoked salmon, pin bones and skin removed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Shrimp Filling:
- 1 cup (about 6 ounces) cooked shrimp, finely chopped
- ¼ cup minced celery
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt or mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons minced green onions
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Procedures:The French choux (pronounced shoo) pastry—also known as cream puff pastry—is made in a different fashion than most other pastries. A simple paste of water, butter, and flour is made stovetop, then eggs are beaten in. The magic happens during baking when the dough puffs up to create light, hollow domes, ready to be stuffed with countless possible fillings.
Note that this recipe makes more puffs than are needed for the fillings; extras freeze well and you’ll be thrilled to have them on hand for a last-minute appetizer when friends pop by unexpectedly. Either let the puffs sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to thaw, or warm the frozen puffs in a 325°F oven for 5 minutes (direct from the freezer, no thawing needed). You may also skip the choux puffs and simply serve the fillings in endive leaves or spooned onto thick slices of cucumber for a super shortcut option that’s still impressive.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
- For the pastry, combine the milk, water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan and warm over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the flour all at once and stir continuously for about 1 minute, until the flour is thoroughly incorporated and the dough begins to pull together into a ball.
- Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the eggs 1 at a time, stirring well with a wooden spoon to fully incorporate each egg before adding the next. The first couple of eggs are the hardest to mix; as the dough softens, it gets easier. After you have incorporated 5 eggs, the dough should be smooth and satiny. If the dough detaches from the spoon in a few seconds' time when you lift it up, it is perfect and you do not need the extra egg. Otherwise beat in a sixth egg.
- Transfer the dough to a large pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain tip. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in 1½-inch mounds, about 2 inches apart.
- For the egg wash, beat the egg with a fork in a small bowl until frothy, then beat in the water. Use a soft pastry brush to brush the top of each mound lightly with egg wash, gently patting down any tails of dough sticking up.
- Bake the puffs for 18 to 20 minutes, until the pastry is nicely puffed and deep brown. It's best to bake 1 sheet at a time, so pop the first in the oven while piping the second (which will be fine sitting to wait its turn). Allow the puffs to cool on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
- For the salmon filling, blend together the cream cheese, onion, horseradish, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, and dill in a medium bowl. Add the salmon and stir until thoroughly blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- For the shrimp filling, if the shrimp seem wet, pat them dry with paper towels. Combine the shrimp, celery, yogurt, green onions, dill, and lemon juice in a medium bowl and stir to thoroughly blend. Season to taste with salt.
- Shortly before serving, use a serrated knife to cut off the top third of each puff. Spoon the shrimp filling into about 18 of the puffs and the salmon filling into another 18 or so puffs (don't overfill). Top each puff with a lid, arrange on a serving platter, and serve.