Seven Swans A-Swimming

These swans are formed from a traditional recipe for pate a choux.

  • Yield: Makes 18

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December/January 1999


For the swans

  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, plus 1 egg for glaze

For the filling and sauce

  • 2 pints vanilla ice cream
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


  1. Place an 11-by-17-inch piece of parchment paper lengthwise on a clean work surface. Using a pencil and ruler, draw sets of parallel lines to make a grid that will be the guide for piping out the swans: Starting 3/4 inch up from the bottom edge, draw a line across the paper. Draw a second parallel line, 2 1/2 inches above the first. Draw a third parallel line, 1 inch above the second line, and a fourth line 2 1/2 inches above the third. Draw another line 1 inch above the fourth line, and a sixth line 2 1/2 inches above that. This should leave a 3/4-inch border at the top. Place parchment, pencil-side down on an 11-by-17-inch flat baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place the butter and salt in a medium-heavy saucepan with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. When the butter is completely melted, remove the pan from the heat, and, using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour all at once. Place the pan back over low heat, and stir constantly until the dough is soft and pulls away from the pan. This should take 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, being careful not to scrape the thin crust off the bottom of the pan. Let the dough cool for 5 minutes. One at a time, mix in 4 eggs, making sure the mixture is smooth before the next egg is added. The dough should be smooth, shiny, and thick.
  4. Prepare a large 12-inch pastry bag with a #306 (1/2-inch round, or use 1/2-inch coupler) tip. Fill the pastry bag with three-quarters of the dough. Prepare a small pastry bag with a #11 small round tip, and fill with the remaining quarter of the dough. Using the large pastry bag, squeeze out eighteen large teardrops of dough onto the cookie sheet, 1 inch apart, staying between the lines and making 2 rows. Form the heads and necks: Using the small pastry bag, squeeze out eighteen small S shapes, like question marks but with the second end slightly curved as well. Make a pointed beak by pulling up the tip at the edge of the head.
  5. Beat the remaining egg with one teaspoon water in a small bowl, and brush glaze sparingly over swan bodies and necks. Bake until the necks are golden and airy, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the necks, and return the pan to the oven until the bodies are golden and airy, about 25 minutes. Turn off the oven, and open the oven door halfway for a few moments, allowing the steam to escape. Transfer from the oven, and let cool and dry for 1 hour.
  6. Gently slice off the top on a diagonal with a sharp, serrated knife. Cut the top into halves. Working quickly, fill each body with 2 small scoops of vanilla ice cream. Then place both pieces of the top back on the ice cream to simulate wings, and place a neck and head into the ice cream at the point where the two wings meet. Remove the swans to a small sheet pan, and place in the freezer until ready to serve.
  7. Just before serving, make the chocolate sauce. Chop the chocolate into small pieces; place in a medium bowl. Scald the cream; pour over chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes. then stir until smooth. Let cool at room temperature until ready to use. Spoon a pool of chocolate sauce on each plate and top with a swan. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve immediately.

Cook's Notes

You will need two pastry bags and a variety of tips.