I recently purchased a taiyaki pan and was trying to figure out what other things I could make with it besides, well taiyaki. So I started thinking about what doughs or batters can I cook in a pan, and my mind went to pate choux, or cream puff batter/dough. Choux is made by twice cooking a flour mixture, and then relying on the steam in the dough to puff it up when it’s exposed to high temperatures. It can be used in cream puffs, eclairs, cakes, doughnuts, and even gnocchi! I specifically remembered compressed choux, which is cream puff batter, baked into a mold to create a specific shape. Personally, I was hoping for more of a compressed choux effect from cooking the dough in the taiyaki pan, where the edges get crispy to the insides are hollow. I’ve seen compressed choux used for things like faux tarts, but the most common form is the Totoro cream puffs, which are made by baking pate choux directly into Totoro-shaped molds! Those puffs are made by taking pate choux dough, and baking it in a Totoro-shaped baking mold, resulting in the shape of the puff resembling Totoro himself! In this case, I was hoping that the choux cooked in the taiyaki pan have a crisp exterior, and an eggy interior. With choux dough, high heat causes it to expand, but in this case, I am using a lower heat so it does not burn, and it should not expand as dramatically as if it was baked at a high temperature like a normal cream puff or eclair. My one fear was that the insides of the dough would come out soggy, since choux that is not fully cooked has an almost eggy taste to it.
In the case for cooking pate choux in a taiyaki pan, the end result reminds me a lot of when you make beignets or doughnuts using pate choux in balls (also known to be a French dessert called pets de nonne or nun farts!). The edges are quite crispy and golden-brown, and the interior is soft and eggy. Very beignet-like in that sense. For me, the biggest win was achieving that kind of textural contrast without having to set up a deep fryer! I found that with my specific taiyaki pan, which produces 4 smaller taiyaki, roughly 2 tbsp of dough per mold, medium-high heat for 3 minutes, then flip and cook at the same heat for another 2 minutes, that worked nicely to accomplish this. Just to fully embrace the similarities here to a beignet, I coated the taiyaki choux beignet-like things in confectioner’s sugar, just to add in a much-needed sweetness. The end result was like if French toast, egg waffles, cream puffs, taiyaki, aebleskivers, youtiao(Chinese krueller), and beignets had a love-child. So somewhat breakfast-y, pleasantly sweet from the powdered sugar, and perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee or tea! I personally found these to a be a pleasant accident, because they do cook a lot faster than a normal cream puff would, a bit slower than a doughnut would, but you kind of get the best in both worlds in the sense of a dough that comes together quite quickly, cooks in a decent amount of time, tastes like it’s been deep-fried, and does not have nearly the same amount of oil needed, so some give and take, here and there, but all in all, an easy-to-eat, golden brown delicious pastry that I will definitely be revisiting again!
Makes 2 big taiyaki, or 4 small taiyaki:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup water or milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
confectioner’s sugar to finish
In a pot, bring butter and milk to a boil. Once the butter is fully dissolved into the milk, mix the flour into that to form a dough ball. Allow the dough to cool down before adding in the egg and salt. Line a taiyaki pan with cooking spray. Divide the dough amongst the molds, roughly 2 tbsp of batter per mold, and cook on medium-high heat for 3 minutes on the first side, then another 2 minutes on the second side. Dust the cooked taiyaki on both sides with confectioner’s sugar to finish.