When pastry chef Dominique Ansel was preparing to open his own bakery, he toyed with the idea of baking cupcakes. Then cheesecake. Finally, he chose to forge his own way with a few French pastries underrepresented in American bakeries. And the star of his efforts are the adorable religieuses, essentially stacked cream puffs. It's his American spin on the pastry that sets these apart — he decorates them, in the most sophisticated way, as pumpkins, bunnies, and Santas. You have to see these!
The religieuse, named for its resemblance to a nun (it takes some imagination to see this), can be found all over France, typically filled with vanilla, chocolate or coffee flavored cream. Ansel creates a fresh take on the treats with untraditional flavors and designs to fit the season.
Do these pastries get your creative baking juices flowing? Check out these recipes and create your own (and send us photos, please!): • Raspberry Religieuse at the LA Times • Coffee Religieuse at Not Quite Niguella