Where did the bignè originate? If you ask the Italians, you’ll probably receive a different answer than if you ask the French, although both think the recipe was created during the Renaissance. The Italians believe that when Caterina de Medici, an Italian noblewoman from Tuscany, moved to France in 1533 to marry Henry II, she brought all of her personal recipes and chefs with her. It’s believed that one of the chefs created the recipe for bignè in 1540. It’s also thought that not only the recipe for bignè but also many of the basic pastry recipes that France is famous for today would have been credited to the Italians had de Medici remained in Italy. Bignè are best served on the day they are made. If necessary, they can be baked up to two days before serving and should be reheated in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven until crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. To prevent the bignè from going soggy, fill just before serving. 1½ pounds (680 g) Pasta Choux (Choux Pastry) (Scroll down the page for the recipe!) 4½ cups Crema Chantilly (Chantilly Cream) (Scroll down the page for the recipe!)
- See the recipe for Choux Pastry below for the ingredients
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Transfer the choux pastry to a large pastry bag fitted with ½-inch plain tip (like Wilton 1A). For larger profiteroles, pipe the paste into 1½-inch rounds, spacing 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. For smaller profiteroles, pipe the paste into 1-inch rounds, about 1 inch in diameter, spacing 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. To prevent the tops from burning, level the peaks with a wet fingertip.
- Bake one sheet of profiteroles at a time. Using a small spray bottle filled with water, lightly spritz the profiteroles with water and immediately place in the oven. The water will help to create steam, which helps give the profiteroles volume.
- Bake until tops and sides are golden, 25 to 30 minutes for larger profiteroles and 15 to 20 minutes for smaller ones. Turn off the oven and allow to rest in the oven for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Pierce each profiterole in the side with a small paring knife to allow steam to escape. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
- With a serrated knife, cut each profiterole in half crosswise.
- Transfer the chantilly cream to a large piping bag fitted with a large tip (like a Wilton 1M). Pipe the cream in a decorative swirl on the bottom half of each profiteroles. Replace the tops.
- To serve, dust with confectioners’ sugar. If not serving immediately, filled profiteroles can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two hours (any longer could cause the pastry to go soggy).