Servings: 20 to 30 pastries
Ready time: 2 1/2 hours
Vanilla pastry cream
2 cups milk
1 vanilla-bean pod, seed scraped out
5 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp butter
1 cup black sesame seeds
2 tbsp granulated sugar
Pâte à choux
1 cup whole milk
1 cup water
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp (plus 1 tsp) sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups vanilla pastry cream (see recipe)
3/4 cup black-sesame paste (see recipe)
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup white fondant (see recipe)
2 tbsp simple syrup (boil equal parts sugar and water until sugar is dissolved)
1/2 tsp black sesame seeds
3 tbsp (plus 1 tsp) butter
1 tbsp (plus 1 tsp) raw sugar
2 tbsp (plus 2 tsp) glucose or corn syrup
1 tbsp (plus 1 tsp) flour
1/3 cup black sesame seeds
To make the vanilla pastry cream, heat milk in a small sauce pan with vanilla-bean pod until just under boiling. Remove the sauce pan from heat. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar and cornstarch. Temper the yolk mixture with the hot milk by pouring it into the bowl in a thin stream, whisking all the while. Pour the entire mixture back into the pot and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture is thick. Take the pot off the heat and add the butter. Stir until incorporated. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and cool in the refrigerator.
To make the black-sesame paste, process the black sesame seeds and sugar in a food processor until smooth and moist.
To make the pâte à choux, combine milk, water, salt, sugar and butter in a 2-litre pot and bring to a boil. Add the flour all at once and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon. Cook the mixture over medium heat to dry it out (about 8 minutes). Transfer to the bowl of a mixer and cool to about 140 F. Add eggs gradually and mix until they are well incorporated. Transfer the pastry mixture to a piping bag and pipe into mounds of two sizes: Half of the rounds should be 3/4 inch in diameter (for the tops); half should be 1 1/2 inches in diameter (for the bottoms). Bake at 325 F until dry (20 to 30 minutes). Note: Don’t open the oven until the outsides are medium brown in colour or the choux will fall.
To make the black-sesame cream, mix together the vanilla pastry cream, black-sesame paste and salt until well combined.
Make a cut in the side of each chou (large and small) and, using a piping bag, fill each one with the black-sesame cream.
To make the white fondant, combine the ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat them to 238 F. Immediately pour the mixture into the bowl of a food processor. When the temperature reaches 140 F, process it until it turns an opaque white, then pour it into a heavy-duty zip-lock bag, squeeze all the air out and seal it. The fondant can be used immediately or kept in the refrigerator for later use.
To make the fondant glaze, mix together the white fondant, simple syrup and black sesame seeds. Heat to 100 F and dip the tops of each filled chou in it.
To make the black-sesame nougatine, mix the ingredients by hand in a bowl and spread the mixture out thinly onto a silicone baking mat and bake at 325 F for 10 minutes. When cooled but still warm, use a cutter and cut into 2 1/2-inch circles.
To assemble the religieuses, top a large filled and fondant-dipped chou with a circle of nougatine and then cap with one of the smaller filled and dipped choux.