HomeRecipesCitrus-Thyme Choux by Dean Lavornia

Citrus-Thyme Choux by Dean Lavornia

(This recipe appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)

Winter is the pinnacle of citrus season, and the vibrant and tangy flavors of lemon and orange are guaranteed to brighten the winter doldrums. These flavors, paired with a velvety smooth white chocolate cremeux, will give new meaning to being in a ‘winter wonderland’. A gluten-free choux makes this an indulgence everyone can enjoy.

Yield: 24 choux


  • 85 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 75 g white rice flour
  • 25 g almond flour
  • 1.5 g fine sea salt
  • Food coloring
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all ingredients. Mix on low speed until ingredients are incorporated, and then on medium-high speed until a dough forms – it will take a while for the dough to become cohesive. Add color as needed.
  1. Roll the dough between two pieces of parchment to the thickness of 1/16ʺ (1.6 mm). Freeze until firm.
  1. Peel off the top piece of parchment, and then cut out disks using a 2ʺ (5 cm) round cutter. After cutting, freeze craquelin.
  1. When you are ready to bake your choux, place frozen craquelin directly on top of unmolded frozen choux.

Gluten-Free Flour Blend

  • 95 g white rice flour
  • 48 g brown rice flour
  • 51 g potato starch
  • 25 g tapioca starch
  1. Combine all ingredients well.

Pâte à Choux

  • 113 g whole milk
  • 113 g water
  • 98 g unsalted butter
  • 4.6 g fine sea salt
  • 10 g granulated sugar
  • 219 g Gluten-Free Flour Blend (above)
  • 2 g xanthan gum
  • 350 g whole eggs*

*Note: the amount of eggs may vary – you may use less or more.

  1. Combine the milk, water, butter, fine sea salt and sugar in a pot and heat until justn boiling. Remove from heat and whisk in the sifted flours until no lumps remain. Switch to a stiff spatula, place back on medium heat and cook lightly until starches are gelatinized. The mixture will have a glossy appearance and start to pull away from the sides of the pot. Transfer the roux to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  1. Blend the eggs together, then, while mixing the choux dough at low speed, very slowly add the eggs in 5-6 additions, scraping the bowl often and mixing until a smooth mass forms.
  1. Transfer the dough to a piping bag and pipe into a small black Flexi-mold, level and freeze.
  1. Unmold the choux and top with craquelin that is cut slightly larger than the choux. It must be perfectly centered, or the choux will be unusable.
  1. Double pan and bake in a deck oven 35-45 minutes at 350°F (177˚C) until deep golden brown and crisp.

White Chocolate Cremeux

  • 325 g white chocolate
  • 13 g (5 sheets) gelatin
  • 1 kg heavy cream
  • 150 g granulated sugar
  1. Melt the white chocolate and set aside.
  1. Bloom the gelatin in cold water.
  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, bring the cream and sugar to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the gelatin. Pour over white chocolate and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate overnight.
  1. Whip the mixture in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until aerated and light.

Lemon Curd

  • 2.5 g gelatin sheets
  • 113 g lemon juice
  • 170 g granulated sugar
  • 113 g egg yolks
  • 113 g unsalted butter
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  1. Bloom gelatin in cold water.
  1. Combine the lemon juice, sugar and yolks in a heavy-bottomed pot and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened. Whisk in butter. Add the bloomed gelatin and whisk to dissolve. Pipe into mini black dome Flexi-molds and freeze.

Lemon-Orange Marmalade

  • 250 g fresh lemon
  • 90 g fresh orange
  • 340 g water
  • ½ vanilla bean, spit and scraped
  • 340 g granulated sugar
  1. Thinly slice the lemon and orange, removing seeds when necessary. Cut each slice into quarters and place in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the water and scraped vanilla bean to the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the pith and skin become translucent and tender. Add the sugar and continue cooking until the temperature registers 223˚F (106˚C), 15-20 minutes.
  1. Remove from the heat and pour into a shallow pan and cool immediately before use.

Lemon-Thyme Crumble 

  • 75 g almond flour
  • 75 g granulated sugar
  • 75 g rice flour
  • 75 g unsalted butter, melted
  • Lemon zest, to taste
  • Fresh thyme leaves, to taste
  1. Combine the almond flour, sugar and rice flour. Add the melted butter, lemon zest and thyme leaves and mix until it resembles a crumb topping.
  1. Bake at 350˚F (177˚C) for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.


  • Long, thin strips of orange zest
  • Micro mint
  • Fresh thyme sprigs

1. Allow the craquelin-covered choux to cool after coming out of the oven. Make sure each puff can stand level upside down. Invert all puffs so the bottom baked side is now on top. Create a hole in the bottom and fill the puff 1/3 of the way with White Chocolate Cremeux, then pipe in some marmalade (about the size of a large marble). Place a frozen mini dome of lemon curd on top of marmalade, domed side down. Put about 1 teaspoon of Lemon-Thyme Crumble on the bottom of the curd dome. Top with more White Chocolate Cremeux. Level off with a small off set spatula.

2. Using a #104 rose petal tip, pipe White Chocolate Cremeux in a back and forth pattern to cover the surface of the choux. Place a frozen mini dome of Lemon Curd to one side. Garnish with thin long zests of orange and micro mint or fresh thyme.

About Dean Lavornia

Dean Lavornia, M.Ed., CEPC is the Associate Professor of International
Baking & Pastry Institute, Johnson & Wales University, Providence, RI. His early influence that helped him become a pastry professional came from the chefs and the quality of education he received at JWU. He loves to create pastries that have classic origins and give them a modern contemporary twist.

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