The Grand Budapest Hotel is here and it's amazing! Not only does it mark a huge growth for Wes Anderson as a director and writer, the cast is unbelievable (even by Anderson standards) and the intricate plot is held together by delicious pastries. Not even joking a little bit on that last one. Everything works together perfectly in the whimsical, yet dark and mournful, story about the concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel, Monsieur Gustave H. (played to dandy perfection by Ralph Fiennes), and his young lobby boy Zero (played by the standout newcomer Tony Revolori).
We know that the moment you walk out of that theater, you're going to want the delectable desserts from Mendl's Patisserie. In the film, the colorful Courtesan au Chocolate pastry towers are made by sweet baker Agatha (Saoirse Ronan) and based on Fox Searchlight's charming video below, it doesn't seem all that hard to do. Why not give it a try and impress not only your film-loving friends, but anyone who likes sweets? Bonus points if you put your creative skills to the test and recreate the pink Mendl's box!
Courtesan au Chocolate from The Grand Budapest Hotel
Step I — The Pastry
Make a choux pastry of flour, water, butter and eggs. Though correct proportions may vary depending on one's elevation and humidity, we recommend:
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 cup fresh water
- 1/4 pounds butter
- 4 eggs beaten in a bowl
- A pinch of salt
- A larger pinch of sugar
Bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a boil. Remove from the fire and quickly mix in the sifted flour. Return to heat for a few minutes, stirring, and cook until the dough forms a single lump. Allow to cool just enough to keep the eggs from cooking and stir in very gradually with a strong wooden spoon.
Cover your tray in parchment. Pipe the dough into small hazelnut-sized, medium teaspoon-sized and large tablespoon-sized dollops on tray (you need one of each to make a single courtesan).
Bake in the oven at 350F (180C) for about 25-35 minutes. The smaller pastries are best put on a separate tray as they will cook more quickly.
Remove from the oven and discreetly make a small piercing in the choux to allow the steam to escape.
Step II — The Filling
Once cooled, the large and medium choux should be filled with a crème pâtissière of chocolate, egg yolks, and sugar.
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- Several large pieces semi-sweet chocolate
- Several small pieces white chocolate (optional)
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 spoons cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon flour
- Cornstarch to thicken
Heat the milk gently and add chocolate, stirring to melt into a rich, almost-steaming chocolate milk. Whisk egg yolks, flour, sugar, cocoa and a few spoons of cornstarch into a smooth mixture. Add half of the hot chocolate milk to the bowl, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Then add this mixture back into the rest of the hot milk, stirring over gentle heat for a few minutes until the mixture thickens to a custard. Remove from heat and chill.
Once cooled, spoon the chocolate crème into a pastry bag and pipe into the large and medium pastry balls.
Step III — The Decoration
Prepare a glaze of confectioner’s sugar, a dash of vanilla and enough milk to achieve the desired consistency. (Reserve some white icing for filigree.) Separate into three small bowls and add food coloring to each - one lavender, one pale green and one pink.
Dip each pastry in icing (to the midline) and place it on a tray - the large pastry in lavender, the medium in pale green and the small in pink. Allow to dry.
Decorate the balls with filigree of white chocolate (or reserved icing) as desired.
Step IV — The Assembly
Place a dollop of icing (preferably a pale blue) atop a large pastry ball. Take a medium-sized ball and press it gently on the larger so it sticks in place. The butter cream should act as a glue. Repeat with one of the small balls atop the first two. Make a small butter cream "star" on the top and place a single cocoa bean on the star as a garnish.