Courtesan au Chocolat

Make the famed Courtesan Au Chocolat dessert from The Grand Budapest Hotel
Courtesan au Chocolat

 The Grand Budapest Hotel is the story of a once-great hotel, its beloved concierge, a fictional war-raved country, a stolen painting and the lobby boy at the center of it all. Wes Anderson tells this story through beautiful, intricate and ornate imagery – we tried to recreate his precise and detailed aesthetic in our video.

The Courtesan Au Chocolat is made throughout the film – it is both delicate, delicious and it’s even used to break out of jail. This dessert is a take on a classic french choux pastry (sort of like a cream puff). This video is about a minute longer than usual because the Courtesan is bit involved – But, don’t be scared off by the number of steps, it’s actual easy to make and you’ll end up with something as pretty as it is yummy!

Part I – The Choux Pastry/ Dough

  1. Cube up one stick of butter and heat it in a pan with water, sugar, and salt.
  2. Once the water is simmering take it off the heat and quickly mix in all of the flour.
  3. The dough should start to pull away from the sides and form into ball within about 30 seconds. Place it back on a low heat and keep stirring for another minute or so. You’ll know it’s ready when the dough is shiny and comes together easily. Turn off the heat and let it cool for 3-5 minutes.
  4.  Add the eggs to the dough one at a time, stirring to combine between each addition.
  5. Place the pastry dough in a piping bag with a round tip and pipe it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pipe three different sizes – make sure not to put the largest and smallest sizes on the same baking sheet – they may cook at different times so it’s easiest if you can take them out of the oven separately. If you are having trouble piping the dough evenly try drawing circle templates in pencil on the parchment paper, then flip it over ( so you don’t pipe onto the pencil lead) and now just fill in the circles with your pastry!
  6. Dip your finger into water and push down any edges or spikes. Keep dipping your finger in water so you don’t stick to the pastry.
  7. Bake the at 350 degrees for half an hour. Check on them after 20 minutes and remove the smaller pastries if they are golden brown.

Part II – The Chocolate Pastry Cream

  1. Cut a vanilla bean in half and scrape the out the seeds. Place the seeds and the vanilla pod in a saucepan with milk. Heat it on medium-low heat until it starts to simmer. If you don’t have a vanilla bean, good quality vanilla extract is fine.
  2. In a bowl whisk together three egg yolks, and one whole egg add in the flour and sugar.  Whisk together for a minute or so until there are no big lumps.
  3. As soon as the milk and vanilla reach a simmer, turn down the heat and ladle in a little bit of the milk mixture to the bowl with the eggs, flour and sugar. Mix it together well. Add a touch more of the milk and keep mixing.  When the egg mixture is milky and warm pour it into the rest of the milk  in the saucepan. Turn the heat back on and whisk. [It’s important to go through the process of adding a little milk mixture to the eggs, because if you add raw eggs to simmering milk the eggs will cook right away and you’ll get scrambled eggs. The extra steps allow the eggs to cook slowly creating a lovely pastry cream rather than a weird egg drop soup meets dessert type of mess.]
  4. The mixture will thicken pretty quickly, as soon as it does – turn the heat off.  Whisk it a few more times to cool it a bit and then add chocolate and whisk to combine.
  5. Once the cream is no longer hot (lukewarm is fine). Use a pastry bag or food storage bag with a small tip to pipe the cream into the large and medium pastry sizes. Just pipe it in through the bottom of the pastry and squeeze on the bag until you feel some resistance.

Part III – The Glaze

  1. Split the confectioner’s sugar into 3 bowls. Add a touch of food coloring to each bowl, slowly drizzle in a bit of milk to reach the desired thickness. A little liquid goes a long way so start with just a tiny bit – about 1/2 a teaspoon or so. You want the glaze to be thin enough to work with easily but also thick enough to coat the pastry.
  2. Make one plain uncolored glaze and set aside for decorating.

Part IV – Assembly followed by dessert

  1. Dip the largest pastry about half way face down into the purple glaze.
  2. Dip the medium pastry about half way face down into the green glaze, and place it on top of the larger pastry. Hold it in place for a few seconds until they are stuck in place.
  3. Dip the smallest party into the pink glaze and add to the other two layers. Hold it in place a few seconds until the glaze sets up.
  4. Use the white glaze to add a some embellishments. I like to use a small squeeze bottle but you can use a pastry bag or even just drizzle it on.
  5. Serve fresh and enjoy!