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By the Book: Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel’s Bouchons

June 4th 11:06am, 2013


My most memorable food moments while travelling have centered around baked goods. That’s probably because my pocketbook is thin and bread is cheap. Now nearly 20 years removed from college, I can still navigate my way to the panadería in Madrid where, for a good year at least, I popped in regularly for a palmera. That bakery’s version of the puff pastry shaped like a palm tree (or scroll or ear, depending on your perspective) was not baked to a crisp like other places. It was fluffy and chewy with a perfect smear of sweet glaze. A panadería is likewise were my son first flexed his teenager linguistic muscles one summer abroad in Spain. Being courted by pan del día, Spain’s version of a baguette, will get you to speak up. Because really, who can pass up freshly baked goods?

That’s the reasoning behind Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel’s Bouchon Bakery, an impressive collection of nearly 150 bread and pastry recipes. As Keller explained in the foreword, the pains, meringues, mille-feuilles, tarts and other boulangerie pièces de résistance that he discovered during his Parisian period in the 1980s are still firmly entrenched in his memory, and they’re the source for his interest in pastry.

I wanted to bake a Keller classic. Bouchon – the cylindrical little brownie that is the namesake for Keller’s Bouchon Bistro – was the obvious choice. These are so signature, in fact, that Williams-Sonoma sells the special baking mold needed to reproduce this decadent chocolate dessert.

The recipe is easy to follow, although a few steps differed from what I am used when baking. For example, when working with the butter, half of it is cut into chunks and set into a bowl while the other half is melted in a saucepan then poured on top of the cut butter. Once the batter is prepared, it is set aside for 2 hours. (The batter is so decadent that you need to leave the house at that point or risk eating the whole thing right out of the bowl.) I would have liked an explanation for why these procedures are necessary.



The only hiccup I encountered was upon removing the bouchons from the silicone mold. They did not fall out when I turned the mold upside-down, so I used the dull edge of a knife to loosen them from the mold and then carefully lifted each one onto a cooling rack. Curiously, the directions on the Williams-Sonoma box in which the bouchon mold is packaged give instructions to grease the mold; those instructions are not included in the cookbook recipe. Next time I bake bouchons, I’ll take the greased route.



I have yet to step foot inside one of the five Bouchon Bakery locations around the country, but biting into such grand chocolate goodness brought me one step closer.



12 servings

141 g. or 5 oz. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
50 g. or ¼ cup, plus 1 ½ Tbsp. all-purpose flour
50 g. or ½ cup, plus 2 Tbsp. unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
0.4 g. or ⅛ tsp. kosher salt
75 g. or ¼ cup, plus 2 tsp. eggs*
162 g. or ¾ cup, plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1.5 g. or ¼ tsp. vanilla paste
112 g. or ½ cup chocolate chips
Powdered sugar for dusting

• Place half the butter in a medium bowl. Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Stir the melted butter into the bowl; all the butter will come to room temperature and become creamy looking, with small bits of unmelted butter. Set aside.
• Place the flour in a bowl and sift in the cocoa powder. Add the salt and whisk together.
• Combine the eggs, sugar and vanilla paste in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix on medium-low speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the mixer running, alternate between adding the butter and flour mixtures in three additions each. Then mix to combine well, scraping the bowl as necessary.
• Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and fold in the chocolate chips. Set aside in a cool spot (not the refrigerator) for 2 hours. The batter can be refrigerated for up to 2 days but should be returned to room temperature before filling the molds.
• Preheat the oven (convection or standard) to 350 degrees.
• Transfer the batter to the pastry bag, or use a spoon. Pipe or spoon the batter evenly into the molds, stopping just below the top rim.
• Bake for 12 minutes in a convection oven, 16 minutes in a standard oven. Test a bouchon with a cake tester, making certain not to hit a chocolate chip; the tester should come out clean (if it comes out with chocolate on it, try again). Remove the mold from the oven and let the bouchons rest for 10 minutes (so that they will hold their shape), then unmold the bouchons onto a cooling rack, turn right side up, and cool completely.
• The bouchons can be kept in a covered container for up to 3 days. Just before serving, dust the tops with powdered sugar.

* Before weighing eggs, crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork to combine the yolks and whites. Strain the eggs; this will remove the chalazae (white spiral bands attaching the yolk to the membrane) and any small bits of shell and allow the eggs to flow freely when you weigh them.

Special thanks to La Patisserie Chouquette for its generous donation of Cocoa Berry brand cocoa powder for use in this recipe.

What’s your favorite bakery or pastry shop? Tell us in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Bouchon Bakery. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Marla, whose comment on last week’s  By the Book has won her a copy of This Is a Cookbook. Marla, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.



By Ligaya Figueras

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9 Responses to “By the Book: Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel’s Bouchons”

  1. Karen Diederichsen Says:
    June 4th, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I still love Lubeley’s Bakery. They have the best danish rolls and their decorated cakes are beautiful.

  2. Elizabeth Young Says:
    June 4th, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Hands down-Pint Sized Bakery. They delight all pallets-whether you are looking for sweet, savory or a taste of nostalgia (can you say Oatmeal Creme pie)-they are my go to.

  3. Mary R. Says:
    June 4th, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    I have to agree with Lubeleys but my go-to bakery, when I’m flush ;) is La Bonne Bouchee!!

  4. Dawn Says:
    June 4th, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    I wonder if baking them in a muffin pan is too gauche for such a treat as these? The look incredible!

  5. Sara Says:
    June 4th, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    I love a good bakery and we are so lucky that so many great ones have come to St. Louis in the past few years, however, your cover photo on Sauce of the elusive canelés led me to La Patisserie Chouquette, the manifestation of my bake shop dreams. You step into another world. “It’s delightful, it’s delicious,It’s delectable, it’s delirious, It’s dilemma, it’s delimit, it’s deluxe, It’s de-lovely!”.

  6. marla Says:
    June 4th, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I’m with Elizabeth on this one. Hands down, Pint Size Bakery. They make things using seasonal ingredients, they serve them in cute, innovative packaging and while their sweet things are beautiful, it’s the savory that I like. It’s different things from day to day. Always a surprise. And I can walk there!

  7. Marina Says:
    June 5th, 2013 at 11:16 am

    For me, a trip to Washington DC isn’t complete without a visit to Kafe Leopold’s, a little bakery tucked away in Georgetown. Their glass case always has a huge assortment of tarts, macaroons, and cakes that it’s difficulty to choose just one! What brings me back each time though is the lavender Earl Grey infused chocolate cake. It is to.die.for. I highly recommend it and wish I could figure out how to make it at home!

  8. Jen Says:
    June 5th, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    While not full service, the Cup and the Cakery are my go to favorite. The buttercreams are completely addictive and their cakes all around delicious.

  9. Patty Says:
    June 6th, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Leonora Bakery in Arlington, VA has an absolutely amazing Raspberry Tartalette with almond cream filling. Not only is it beautiful, it is also extremely delicious.

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