Choux balls with a Cheesy Bechamel and Onion Jam

Soft and crispy balls of cheesy goodness topped with the sharp sweetness of the onions. Delightful!
Soft and crispy balls of cheesy goodness topped with the sharp sweetness of the onions. Delightful!

An appetizer or an amuse bouche are generally the teasers, the opening act, the anticipation enhancers that lure you into the main event and make sure you, as a diner, are primed to enjoy the meal in the best way possible. As such, there are generally two types of appetizer: A sharp fresh one, that cleanses the palate and wakes up the taste buds and the sinful parcel of deliciousness that attacks the pleasure center full on and leaves you wanting more. This recipe without a doubt falls under the latter category. When cooked correctly, choux buns are a soft buttery and lightly crispy vessel to carry almost any flavor with it, these ones here were filled with the most decadent of bechamels incorporating some creamy cheddar and Parmesan cheese within it, making it the most sinful of bechamels to ever grace the planet. The topping of the jam provides the sharpness and sweetness as a counterpoint to the cheesy decadence, without which, these little bites become monotone. The most important thing about this recipe is to ensure that everything is quite small, in order not to become overbearing and infringe upon the main course’s territory. The recipe after the jump,

Makes about 18-20 buns

For the Onion Jam:

500g of red onions

25g of butter

2 garlic cloves

1 pinch of dried chili flakes

1 sprig of fresh thyme leaves

1 cup of red wine

170ml cups of red wine vinegar

60ml of port

25g of caster sugar

Salt and pepper

Heat up the butter in a pan on a medium heat, add the onions and the garlic and sautee until translucent, about 7mins, sprinkle the sugar, chili and thyme and lower the heat right down and cook uncovered until the honey caramelizes. Make sure to stir every now and then, and that nothing burns or over caramelizes, should take anywhere between 25-35mins. Add the liquids and bring the heat back up to a strong simmer and let everything cook until most the liquid’s evaporated and the mixture is nice and sticky as a normal jam would be, this could take up to an hour.

For the choux: (this Delia recipe is my go to)

60g Plain Flour

50g Butter

3/4 Cup water

2 eggs beaten and kept in a bowl

Pinch of salt

Preheat an oven to 200C

Place the water and the butter in a pot on a high heat and heat up until it comes to a boil. While the butter and water are heating up, sift the flour onto a plate or baking paper. Once the butter mix comes to a boil, turn off the heat and add the flour in all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until a nice dough forms. Take the pot off the stove to cool down for about 10mins, and once the dough isn’t too hot to touch, add the eggs in a little at a time, mixing vigorously (again) as you do. The dough will start off looking funny and split, but don’t worry, it’ll come back together and form this lovely glossy mix with a bit of mixing.

Once the dough becomes this lovely glossy paste, you’re ready to either spoon it or pipe it onto a greased baking tray. Spoon or pipe about 1 tbsp of the mix about 2cm apart and place the tray in the oven. Cook the pastry for about 30mins until it has risen and is a beautiful golden colour.

For the Bechamel:

1.5 tbsp of butter

1 tbsp of flour

1 cup of full cream milk

100g of grated mature cheddar

100g of grated Parmesan

Melt the butter in a small pan over a medium high heat and add the flour, stirring constanlty until the mix becomes a golden sandy colour. Once the flour is cooked off and the pan gives off a beautiful aroma, add the milk and lower the heat, whisk and cook the sauce for about 5mins until it becomes velvety and smooth. Gradually whisk in the cheese a little at a time until it is fully incorporated, you might need to add just a bit of milk to wet the mixture up. Place the mixture in a piping bag and keep ready for assembly.

Assemble the buns by piping the cheesy bechamel into the buns, and topping with a quenelle of the jam. Hope you enjoy!

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