How to Make Mendl’s ‘Courtesan au Chocolat’ from The Grand Budapest Hotel

For any of you out there who recently ventured out to see Wes Anderson’s, The Grand Budapest Hotel, you were probably left salivating at the sight of the famous Mendl’s ‘Courtesan au Chocolat’ – a tower of choux pastry, dripping in dreamy, pastel coloured icing and topped off with single cocoa bean. In an excellent promotional video for the film, the recipe is revealed but don’t be deceived, these wondrous creations come with one of the most complicated recipes we have ever seen. Whoever coined the phrase, ‘A labour of love’ most probably was starring at one of these little beauties.

Part I

The Pastry

1 cup plain flour
1 cup fresh water
1/4 lb butter
4 eggs beaten in a bowl
A pinch of salt
A larger pinch of sugar

Bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a boil.
Remove from the fire and quickly mix in the sifted flour.
Return to heat for a few minutes, stirring and cook until the dough forms a single lump.
Allow to cool just enough to keep the eggs from cooking and stir in very gradually with a strong wooden spoon.
Pipe the dough into small, medium and large-sized dollops on a tray.
Large tablespoon dollop.
Teaspoon dollop.
Hazelnut size dollop.
Bake in the oven at 350 F (180 C) for about 25-35 minutes. The smaller pastries are best put on a second tray as they will cook more quickly.
Remove from the oven and discretely make a small piercing in the choux to allow the steam to escape.

Part II

The Filling

Once cooled, the large and medium choux should be filled with a crème pâtissière of chocolate, egg yolks, and sugar.

1 1/2 cups of whole milk
Several large pieces semi of sweet chocolate
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 spoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon flour
Cornstarch to thicken

Heat the milk gently, and add chocolate, stirring to melt into a rich, almost steaming chocolate milk.
Whisk egg yolks, flour, sugar, cocoa and a few spoons of cornstarch into a smooth mixture.
Add half of the hot chocolate milk to the bowl, a little at the time, stirring constantly.
Then add this mixture back into the rest of the hot milk, stirring over gentle heat for a few minutes until the mixture thickens to a custard.
Remove from heat and chill.
Once cooled, spoon the chocolate creme into a pastry bag and pipe into the large and medium pastry balls.

Part III

The Decoration

Prepare a glaze of confectioners sugar, a dash of vanilla and enough milk to achieve the desired consistency.
Separate into 3 small bowls and add food color to each – one lavender, one pale green and one pink.
Dip each pastry in icing (to the midline) and place it on a tray – the large pastry in the lavender, the medium in the pale green and the small in pink.
Allow to dry.
Decorate the balls with filigree of white chocolate as desired. 

Part IV


Place a dollop of icing (preferably a pale blue) atop a large pastry ball. Take a medium size ball and press it gently on the larger so it sticks in place.
The butter cream should act as a glue.
Repeat with one of the small balls atop the first two.
Make a small butter cream “star” on the top and place a single cocoa bean on the star as a garnish.
Serve fresh.

Fingers crossed your hard work pays off. Now sit back relax and enjoy your creation with a well deserved cup of tea.


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