This is my version of a canapé I had in a restaurant ages ago. These are simple, but highly effective little savoury bites: light choux pastry, flavoured subtly with cheese and mustard, and filled with a simple fresh white crab meat sauce.
I use mayonnaise in the filling so that as the choux heat up, the mayonnaise acts as an instant sauce, setting everything in place, with the rich crab flavour coming through wonderfully.
The recipe for the pastry is the same as with gougères, but with less cheese. However, you can increase the cheese or omit it entirely here.
I urge you to eat them warm!
These are at their very best when served warm and they are ridiculously moreish. I can effortlessly polish off a plateful!!
The unfilled choux can be made and frozen in advance: just reheat for about 7-8 minutes at 160C (fan) whether you are filling them or not.
A gluten-free version
You can make these gluten-free by simply replacing the plain flour with gluten-free plain flour if preferred: they do not go as crisp, but they taste excellent.
Recipe: warm crab choux bites (makes about 50)
- 65ml water
- 55ml full-fat milk
- 50g butter, unsalted, cut into cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- generous pinch of cayenne pepper
- generous pinch of chilli powder (optional)
- 75g strong plain flour
- 2 large eggs: they don’t need to be beaten first
- 1 heaped teaspoon Dijon or grain mustard
- 30g Cheddar cheese, grated (or use any other cheese of preference: Gruyère is particuarly wonderful)
To finish the choux:
- egg-wash (beaten egg yolk with a splash of milk)
- light dusting of cayenne or a grinding of black pepper
- about 250g fresh white crab meat
- 4-5 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic, crushed well
- pinch of fine sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- generous pinch of cayenne pepper
- a few chopped fresh chives
- juice of about half a lemon
(1) Preheat the oven to 190C (fan) and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
(2) Heat the water, milk, butter and salt in a saucepan gently until the butter is melted. Turn up the heat and, crucially, bring to the boil.
(3) Once the water has come to the boil add the flour and mix well until the mixture pulls away from the sides into a smooth ball. Turn down the heat and keep beating for another minute or two. Remove from the heat and let it cool for a couple of minutes.
(4) Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the mustard, cayenne, chilli powder and the cheese and mix in well. I find it is easier with a wooden spoon rather than a hand-mixer. The paste will feel quite slippery to begin with – almost curdled in appearance – but after just a little beating it will become smooth and glossy.
(5) Put the choux pastry into a piping bag, cut the end off to give up to 1cm diameter, and pipe small mounds of pastry onto the greaseproof, ensuring they are well spaced. Instead of piping you can place barely teaspoons (not heaped) of the pastry onto the greaseproof.
NB: you can stick down the greaseproof with a bit of the pastry to stop it sliding about when piping. If there are any peaks, use a wet finger to gently flatten them out.
(6) Brush the tops with egg wash and either dust with cayenne or give a good grinded of black pepper all over. Bake for 15-2o minutes, The pastry should be well risen and a deep golden brown when ready. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
(7) For the filling, mix all the filling ingredients together, adjusting the seasoning and adding more lemon juice if necessary.
(8) Split each choux in two and fill with about a teaspoon of the filling, replacing the top. Heat for about 5-7 minutes in an oven preheated to 160C(fan).