SWANS & CRABS (PÂTE À CHOUX) - Daring Bakers' Challenge - August / 2012


From sweet elegant Swans to savory funny crabs, the sky is the limit when using Choux Pastry!

I can't help it, I just love playing with food. Specially when the end result is a melt in your mouth piece of heaven. These swans are a classic of the pastry world, yet they are fairly simple to make. And those crabs... well...if you know me you could guess I wouldn't  be happy with just the swans :D  Do I have to mention I had tons of fun with this month's DB's challenge?

Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!

A couple of years ago we played with Pâte à Choux at the Daring Bakers to make Pièce Montée (Croquembouche) and it shows how versatile this pastry can be.


Start by preparing the filling, as it has to chill before using. I chose the filling suggested by our hostess Kat, which is a sort of pastry cream with some additional whipped cream to make it light and delicious. You can use just any filling that suits your fancy. Even plain Chantilly can be used with excellent results.



1 tbsp (7g) unflavored gelatin
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 large egg yolks
1 cup (240 ml) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) heavy (whipping) cream (about 35% butterfat)


In a medium saucepan combine gelatin, flour, and sugar. Mix very well.

In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks until they begin to turn pale. Add milk and whisk to combine. Pour this mixture into the pan with dry ingredients.

Cook over low heat stirring constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil.

Remove from heat, add vanilla extract and transfer to a heat resistant glass bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap, allowing it to touch the mixture so to avoid forming a skin.

Allow to cool completely. Refrigerate until it thickens, but not so long that it sets.

Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

Remove vanilla creme from the fridge and fold into the cream.

Refrigerate until ready to use.


(Recipe adapted from this VIDEO by BRUNO ALBOUZE, an excellent tutorial for making the swans, totally worth watching! His Videos are short, objective, professionally made and full of detailed information.)

NOTE: Pâte à Choux does not store well and should be made on the day you intend to serve it. Filling should be applied as close as possible to the time of serving.

125g water
125g whole milk
125g butter (unsalted)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
150 g all purpose flour
250g eggs (4 or 5)

Boil water, milk, butter, salt and sugar.

Turn off the heat add sifted flour, all at once, and stir vigorously until well combined.

Return to stove over high heat and stir for one more minute.

Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool until lukewarm before adding the eggs (about 15 min.)

Meanwhile, beat eggs slightly.

Preheat oven to 190º C (375º F)

Add eggs in batches, stirring very well until well incorporated before
adding another batch. It will look like it will never blend together, but don't worry, it will. It will look like this...

Then like this...

... and finally like this

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a wide plain or star tip for the bodies and a narrow plain tip for the necks (if you don't have a pastry bag nor a tip, just use a ziplock bag with a small hole for the necks and a wider one for the bodies.

Pipe necks, heads, and bodies of swans.

Bake necks first, watch closely as they will bake in 8 to 10 minutes and will burn easily.

Just before baking the bodies, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Bake bodies for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

If your puffs are not brown enough, after you remove them from the oven they will collapse, so make sure to bake them until they are really golden.

Allow parts to cool completely on a cooling rack.


Cut off the top of the body using a serrated knife.

Then cut the top part in half to form the wings. 

Spoon or pipe the filling onto the bottom part.

Insert neck on the wider end and stick wings on the sides.

You may want to serve your swans in a lake of chocolate sauce or ganache...

Or plain... they are delicious either way.


Use the same Pâte à Choux recipe omitting the sugar.

I used Tuna Mousse with Greek Yogurt from my last post, but you can use other fillings of your choice, including crab :o)

Unfortunately, I don't have photos of the process of shaping the crabs, but all you have to do is pipe curved legs and try to form the claws. For the bodies I piped regular round choux, cut them in half then sandwiched with the filling. Finally, I inserted the legs in the body and the upper pair was inserted in the claws. For the eyes, two slices of olives. 

Many thanks to Kat for the fun challenge and for being such a lovely hostess!

Visit THE DARING KITCHEN to see the amazing creations of the participants where you can also find the original recipes and guidelines for this challenge.


  1. Beautiful Renata, Yesterday I struggled to pipe the swans will see how it turn out, yours is always beautiful.

  2. this is fantastic! I like it very much:)

  3. Absolutely beautiful. Done to perfection. Ur always awesome Renata!!!!

  4. WOW!!!!!!
    Thank you so much for making this challenge so fun and amazing to host! Your crabs kept a smile on my face since I first saw them. You're so great!

  5. Wow!!!!
    Thanks so much for grabbing this month's challenge by the horns (or claws?) and running with it! Your post perfectly conveys my hope for the month...that people have fun and make something to be proud of.
    Also, thanks for the kind thoughts during this hard month!

  6. Aha, that's where the tuna mousse went! The crab is adorable. And those olive eyes - hilarious!
    As usual, Renata, always a delight to see your take on the DB challenges! (I made my choux puffs two days before I was going to fill them and stored them in what I thought was an air-tight container, but they turned mouldy. Sigh.)

  7. These are so awesome. The swans are delicate and elegant and the crab is just brilliant. This is PERFECT.

  8. The crab is so cute. Great idea! Swans are also beautiful. You did a great job!

  9. Wonderful swans and cute choux crab. I especially like the way you piped the swans bodies. Cheers from Auckland, New Zealand

  10. The swans are so beautiful. I'm not a big dessert eater/maker but these I have to try, thanks have pinned.

    BTW You are welcome to join in my monthly food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here for entry details and current theme. New theme each month. All bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon.

  11. muito parabens para o caranguejos, é tão fixe! ;)

  12. you never cease to amaze us with ur fabulous creations renata!

  13. The swans are lovely, and that crab is just over-the-moon cute. Very nice work!

  14. OMG I love love love the crab!!! I am so excitted to see that you also have the mousse recipe available. That sounds so yummy! Such a great job!

  15. So amazing, beautiful, impressive and creative! The piping on your swans is so elegant, and you baked them perfectly. And that swan is just awesome - so creative and adorable!! As always, great work :)

  16. Wow! OK, your swans are amazing - I love the heads, and the bodies came out perfectly shaped! - but that little crab may be the cutest thing I've seen all day. Seriously. How did you eat him??! Great job!

  17. Great idea with the crabs! and I love how well you've piped the swans - it all looks amazing! Thanks for stopping by our blog - the paris brest were fantastic, especially with the nutella/hazelnut cream filling.

  18. That crab staring at me is really something to remember :)), it's obvious you had a lot of fun with this challenge!

  19. The swans are a classic...but the crab is so cute! A very different kind of dough to play with. Great pics!

  20. Your swans AND your crabs are so beautiful! You did a great job!!

  21. Renata as always you did an AMAZING job!
    I was in love with your piping skills ans how beautiful the heads and bodies were even before assembly but then came that crab and I was speechless!
    You are very talented my friend

  22. Your swans are so beautifully piped. You need to come give me a lesson. Your crab is adorable beyond words.


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