coffee religieuses


traditionally, religieuses are filled with crème pâtissière (pastry cream) and dipped in chocolate ganache. the chocolate coating is thought to resemble a nun’s habit, hence the name religieuse, which means nun in french.

these look more like a courtesan au chocolat — a fictional pastry from mendl’s bakery in wes anderson’s the grand budapest hotel — than a traditional religieuse. in the grand budapest hotel, mendl’s is famous for its triple-stack of profiteroles frosted in hues of pink, purple, and green. calling the pastry a “courtesan” is the polar opposite of calling it a “religieuse,” and could be interpreted as renouncing the pious connotations of the convent.

my version of the pastry doesn’t have quite as heavy a significance, but i do love using pink, white, and green glazes instead of boring old chocolate! i filled these with a rich coffee-flavored pastry cream and finished them with some decorative piping. even in the best patisseries, religieuses still have a homemade look, so don’t worry if your cream puffs aren’t perfectly round or if the glaze is a little messy.

pate a choux (profiterole dough)

  • 7 tbsp milk
  • 7 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2/3 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

coffee pastry cream

  • 3 1/2 oz ground coffee
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 8 tbsp butter


  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pink and green food coloring (or matcha powder)

coffee buttercream

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

for the pate a choux, preheat the oven to 450º. combine the milk, water, sugar, salt, and butter in a medium saucepan. bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and immediately dump in all of the flour at once. stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth, then press the dough against the bottom of the pan and return to the heat. after a few seconds, you’ll hear it start to crackle; remove from the heat and stir in one of the four eggs. when it is fully incorporated, add the next egg, stir again, then the third and the fourth. transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip. line two baking sheets with parchment, and pipe 12 large (1 1/2 inches in diameter) circles on one of them. trade out the tip for a smaller round tip, and pipe 12 small (5/8 of an inch in diameter) circles on the other sheet. brush the circles with the beaten egg (make sure you coat the entire surface). when the oven is at 450º, lower the temperature to 340º and immediately put the baking sheets in. bake for 25 minutes, then remove and let cool on the sheet.

toast the ground coffee on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a 320º oven for 20 minutes. combine the toasted coffee with the milk in a large bowl and let steep for half an hour. strain the milk into a liquid measuring cup, adding more milk to get back to 2 1/4 cups if needed. in a large heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar for 2 minutes. add the cornstarch. heat the milk in a medium saucepan until just boiling, then pour half of the milk into the bowl with the egg yolks and sugar. whisk until combined, then dump the egg-sugar-milk mix back into the saucepan. whisk until thick and smooth, about 90 seconds. remove from the heat and stir in the butter. transfer to a 9×13 baking dish and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap right onto the surface of the pastry cream. refrigerate for at least an hour.

for the glaze, beat the butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla together in a stand mixer until smooth. divide into thirds and dye one part pink, one part green (you can either use food coloring or matcha powder), and leave one white.

for the coffee buttercream, beat the butter, powdered sugar, and milk together in a stand mixer until smooth. in a small bowl, stir together the vanilla and espresso powder, then beat into the frosting.

to assemble, fit a piping bag with a filling tip or, if you don’t have one, a medium round tip. remove the coffee pastry cream from the fridge and stir until smooth. fill the bag with pastry cream, then insert into the large profiteroles and fill. heat the colored glazes in the microwave for a few seconds until runny, then dip the large and small profiteroles’ top halves into the glazes. stack the small profiteroles on top of the large ones, using a toothpick if needed. put the coffee buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a small star tip and decorate. refrigerate until ready to serve.

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