Mendl's Courtesan au Chocolat

I've always been a Wes Anderson fan, but The Grand Budapest Hotel is by far one of the most delightful films I've seen by him. A particular pastry is featured quite often in it that epitomizes the whimsy and elegance of the film; the Courtesan au Chocolat. I walked out of the theatre itching to make these delightful looking treats. Luckily, there's a handy short film that gives you the basic instructions. Thanks internet!

The Courtesan is a little complicated to assemble, but if you break it down into parts it's totally doable.

The Choux Pastry:
1 cup water
1 stick of butter
1 cup flour
4 eggs, beaten
Pinch of salt
1 Tbs sugar

The Filling:
1 1/2 cup whole milk
3 oz chocolate               
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs cocoa powder
1 Tbs corn starch

The Decoration:
1 1/2 cup of icing sugar, divided
1 tsp water
1/2 stick butter
Pink, purple, blue, and green food dye
Chocolate or sugared almond

The Choux pastry:
1) In a small pot, heat butter and water till almost boiling on medium-high heat.
2) Take the mixture off the heat, and add in all the flour at once. Beat until smooth, then place back on the heat and continue mixing vigorously until it forms a single ball.
3) Remove from the heat again and add the eggs slowly, beating continually till it's a smooth, thick mixture. Wait till it's cool before putting into a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch tip.
4) Pipe large, medium, and small balls onto a cookie sheet, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Watch carefully 'cause the smaller pastries will bake faster. Poke holes in the bottom of the pastry to allow to vent.

The Filling:
1) Heat the milk and chocolate over medium-high heat, stirring gently until the chocolate has melted.
2) In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks, flour, sugar, cocoa, and cornstarch till smooth.
3) Pour half the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture and stir quickly until combined, then add to the rest of the milk mixture and place back onto the heat. Heat till the mixture has thickened and bubbles gently.
4) Allow the filling to cool before piping it into the cooled puffs.

The Icing:
1) Mix the water with 1 cup of icing sugar until smooth, then divide between several bowls and dye pink (small pastry), mint (medium), and purple (large). You don't need very much water here!
2) Dip the pastries in each color and place aside to set.

The Buttercream:
1) Beat the softened butter and 1/2 cup icing sugar until fluffy and smooth. You can do this with a stand mixer, hand mixer, or a whisk. Dye blue if desired.
2) When the pastries have set, decorate filigree around each. Use a dollop of buttercream to hold them in place, and stack them on top of another, largest on bottom and smallest on top.

Tricky to eat, but delicious all the same! Enjoy!


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