Do you love eating nuns and wondering how to make this delicacy? Does choux pastry seem too complicated to make yourself?
Fortunately, world pastry champion Christophe Michalak reveals his personal recipe and his tips for making it at home.
The smooth cream and the cooking techniques will soon have no more secrets for you.
Let's discover together how to make your homemade nun.
Plump, it makes millions of greedy children dream behind the windows of all pastries . Unctuous as desired, it assumes its opulence and softness, decorated with its buttercream necklace.
If the choux pastry , sometimes enhanced with cracker, serves as its structure, the nun is above all a matter of cream!
La Religieuse was born in 1856 from the pastry chef Frascati and designated “the convent grill”. Since then, it has changed several times in size and shape to finally take on the plump and chubby look that we know well: two puffs of different sizes, filled and decorated with buttercream and fondant.
Nowadays, the nun revisited by our contemporary pastry chefs still looks great. Chiboust cream has been replaced by pastry cream and overly sweet fondant replaced by icing.
New marzipan or cracker outfits have appeared as well as new flavors; caramel, citrus fruits, figs, pineapple that change classic coffee or chocolate flavors.
The nun is becoming more and more aesthetic and some French pastry chefs like Christophe Michalak have fun transforming it into an individual version.
The Caramel Nun
10 pieces - preparation 2h30 - cooking 23min - rest 12h
The ingredients of the Religious:
For the cracker :
- 50g of butter
- 60g brown sugar
- 60g flour
For the choux pastry :
- 50g of water
- 55g semi-skimmed milk
- 2.5g caster sugar
- 2.5g fine salt
- 48g of butter
- 60g T55 flour
- 112g whole eggs
For the creamy caramel :
- 120g caster sugar
- 340g semi-skimmed milk
- 1 vanilla pod
- 50g of egg yolks
- 18g caster sugar
- 1.5g fine salt
- 25g cornstarch
- 190g of butter
- 1 sheet of rehydrated gelatin
For the caramel whipped cream :
- 8g caster sugar
- 40g of 35% fat cream
- 6.5g mascarpone
- 1 sheet of rehydrated gelatin
For the almond paste :
- 150g plain almond paste
- 2.5g caramel chocolate
For the dulcey coating :
- 10g Dulcey chocolate couverture
For the finish :
- 70g of 35% fat cream
- 10 small fudge cubes
Christophe Michalak's Recipe
The cracker :
In a mixing bowl, mix the softened butter with the brown sugar and the flour until a homogeneous mixture is obtained.
Roll out the dough to 2mm between 2 sheets of baking paper.
Using a cookie cutter , cut out 10 large circles 5cm in diameter and 10 small circles 3cm in diameter.
The choux pastry :
Boil the water, milk , sugar, salt and butter.
Off the heat, add the flour all at once. Stir constantly and let dry for 1 minute.
Remove to a mixing bowl and add the eggs little by little while mixing.
On a lightly greased baking sheet, pipe 10 large puffs about 8cm in diameter and 10 small puffs about 4cm in diameter using a plain piping bag .
Place a disk of cracker on all the puffs.
Heat your oven to 220°C then turn it off. Put the puffs in the oven for 15min then restart at 170°C (20min for small puffs and 23min for large ones).
The creamy caramel :
In a saucepan, pour the 120g of sugar in 3 times to make a dry caramel .
Meanwhile heat the milk and the scraped vanilla .
Deglaze the caramel with the hot strained milk.
Blanch the egg yolks, 18g of sugar , salt and cornstarch. Pour the caramel milk over this mixture and bring to the boil. Then add the butter and gelatin.
Mix to obtain an emulsion and cool quickly. Film in contact then store overnight at 4°C.
Caramel whipped cream :
As for the cream, make a caramel with the sugar then decook with the hot cream. Leave to cool then add the mascarpone . Film on contact and refrigerate overnight before whipping.
Almond paste :
In the stand mixer bowl, mix the marzipan ointment and the coloring.
Roll out between 2 sheets of baking paper to 2mm.
Cut out circles 7cm in diameter with a cookie cutter .
Decorate each round of marzipan using a pre-greased mold.
The dulcey coating :
Melt the dulcey couverture chocolate pistoles in the microwave.
The finish :
Whisk the cream and thin with the creamy caramel to lighten it.
Garnish the small and large puffs with light creamy caramel underneath.
Place a circle of marzipan on the large puffs . Shape them to fit the shape of the cabbages.
Cut the round side of the small puffs.
Dip them halfway in the Dulcey coating and place them in the center of the large puffs.
Whip the caramel whipped cream. Pipe a rosette using a fluted nozzle .
Cut small cubes of fudge and place a piece on each nun.
- The most complicated part of the nun is to shape the large puffs so that they develop well when cooked . So experiment before starting this recipe.
- Do not give up the cracker because it contributes to the success of cooking and gives a nice regular shape to the cabbage.
- Be careful your cream must not be too liquid otherwise the final result will not be a nun.
Our advices :
- Add accessories to this nun like a hat, a bag, an umbrella.
- Garnish the large choux with a praline , raspberry or crumble insert.
- Compensate for its sweetness with a cream with a strong or tangy flavor.
The important ingredients of this pastry:
His recipe is one of the oldest in French pastry !
Composed of a panade (a floured preparation that is dried in the pan) heavily enriched with eggs, it is a mix between cake and soufflé.
Beyond its use in choux or éclairs, choux pastry is versatile and can be used for many other recipes as Philippe Conticini demonstrates in his book on this subject; Swiss rolls, brioches, croquettes or gourmet cream. Pastry chefs use it as a magic wand for many innovative recipes.
Its major problem is that it is temperamental and sometimes behaves unexpectedly when cooked. Be careful, never forget that it is forbidden to open the oven while the choux pastry is cooking!
This simple mixture of sugar, butter and flour placed in a cooled disc on raw cabbage, offers several advantages:
- it brings crispness and delicacy to the cabbage while allowing it to develop properly during cooking.
- it improves its conservation once cooked.
- it saves pastry chefs having to glaze the choux with fondant.
According to Christophe Michalak , the cracker was revived by pastry chef Stéphane Leroux during the competition for the best workers in France in 2004. Since then, its use has spread beyond the nun.
Useful utensils for this recipe:
Equip yourself with a good saucepan, preferably stainless steel without non-stick coating. Choose it with a thin base but of good quality to conduct the heat correctly without burning your preparation .
The sultana sleeve
This large sleeve allows in a single gesture to make a beautiful collar for your nun. Some purists refuse its use and prefer to continue poaching the collar with teardrops as recommended by the MOF Academy.
However, contemporary pastry chefs like Michalak prefer the sultana nozzle with a protruding cone for the nun, which is more expensive than the other nozzles.
Do it yourself !
Now you know Michalak 's Caramel Nun Recipe and its little secrets. It's your turn to try to master the choux pastry and its irresistible cracker.
With the right equipment and the right recipe, you will perform miracles in the kitchen and surprise your loved ones.
Discover our equipment and utensils for the realization of this pastry by clicking on the image below.