The religieuse is a type of éclair dessert common in France. It’s the delicious result of stacking two puffs of crème pâtissière-filled choux pastry and described as a Pope’s hat or a little nun. The resemblance depends on who you ask, really! One thing’s certain, we’re lucky enough to find them in a range of classic and exotic flavours. And heights, if you’re a fan of Wes Anderson…
Before we show you where to find fresh religieuse desserts near you, consider the structure of the delicate little dessert. While we described two choux pastry puffs above, we must add they are different in size. The smaller, of course, balancing atop the larger pastry. The traditional crème pâtissière fillings are vanilla and chocolate but coffee and mocha are also popular choices.
This dessert was created by Catherine de Medici’s Florentine pastry chef Panterelli. It was made popular in the 1800s by Marie-Antoine Carême who was considered the “King of Chefs and Chef of Kings” and well-known for his grandiose style. To this day, he’s actually considered the father of haute cuisine. He’d definitely be intrigued by the exotic flavours on today’s pastry scene.
Duc de Lorraine make our mouths water when they mention their Coffee Religieuse with coffee cream pastry and coffee fondant icing. Pâtisserie Ô Gâteries, on the other hand, do a wonderful job with their bright green pistachio religieuse! But Batard Bakery shows us a true chocolate lover’s dream with chocolate pastry cream, dark chocolate mousse, a rich dark chocolate glaze, and sprinkles with cacao nibs and gold flakes. How luxurious.
If you’re curious to see what’s available near you, look no further because we’ve actually found a mango joy flavoured religieuse in Canada. Pistachio is another flavour that’s popular here, but if you have more classic tastes, you’re sure to find them, too!
One version of the religieuse you may have trouble finding is the make believe pastry from Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. Mendl’s Courtesan au Chocolat goes the extra mile by adding an extra choux case to the top! Fans of Binging with Babish may have seen his 2017 replication of the whimsical pastry, also featured in his book, Eat What You Watch.
We’ve already mentioned that the religieuse is a type of éclair. But did you know éclair means “lightning”? Appropriately named when considering how quickly they can be gobbled up. Really, any choux pastry dessert can be gobbled as fast for that matter. Especially when you think about profiteroles, Paris-Brest wheels, and sweet deep-fried beignets!
North America’s answer to the éclair is the Long John doughnut with its yeast-based dough – not choux pastry. Typically filled with vanilla custard and topped with icing, they also possess the ability to disappear like lightning. But we’re more interested in religieuse desserts today. So what are you waiting for? Go and get yourself a sweet little religieuse today!