Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pets de Nonne (Nun's Farts)

Pets de Nonne! Translation: Nun's Farts.

Proof positive that the French have a great sense of humor.

Today's treat: choux fritters dusted with powdered sugar. So simple and delicious, you'll quickly forget about any and all associations with flatulence.


I really enjoy them for breakfast, served with a little homemade jam or lemon curd. If I want to be really sinful, I'll serve them with a rich cup of hot chocolate. That is, hot chocolate like I once had in Rome, thick like molasses and perfect for dunking.

Mr. Humble prefers his pets de nonne drizzled with a little pure maple syrup.

So, how do you like your nun's farts?

Yea, this is going to quickly devolve into a fart joke post if I'm not careful.

Maybe I should just get to the recipe today.

This is a simple variation on choux. If you're not a fan of the slightly eggy taste of choux, try flavoring the dough with cinnamon, nutmeg, or my personal favorite, a little lemon zest.

Pets de Nonne
yields 4-6 generous servings
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter (cut into pieces)
1 cup flour
1 cup eggs (roughly 4 large eggs)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

oil for frying

Bring the butter, sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour all at once. With a wooden spoon, vigorously stir the mixture. It will start out as a sticky mess but will turn into a glossy lump of dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a bowl and beat using hand beaters (you can also you use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment) for a minute on medium speed to cool the dough a bit. Then add the vanilla and eggs, one at at a time, beating on high speed to incorporate. Once the dough goes from wet and slippery to sticky, you can add the next egg.

Once all the eggs are mixed, transfer to a large zip top bag. Cut off the corner to produce a 1/2-3/4" in diameter opening and you're ready to go.

Heat a couple inches of oil over medium/medium-high heat and pipe 1" blobs of the batter into the oil. Give them a quick stir with a wok skimmer or whatever slotted frying implement you generally use to prevent them from sticking together.

You will most likely have more batter than room to fry, so feel free to cook the fritters in batches.

Allow the pets de nonne to fry for several minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Drain onto paper towels and allow to cool slightly. When they're no longer blistering hot, dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.


  1. That's really interesting. Maybe it's a France-French vs. Canadian-French thing, but our pets de soeur (it's a lot more common (in Canada anyway) to say "sister" when referring to a nun) aren't choux-puffs, although they are still dessert.
    For us, they're little spirals made up of leftover pie-dough scraps (usually when making sugar pie).
    You roll up strips of the dough, stick them cut-side-down in a pie dish with brown sugar and (a little) evaporated milk, then huck 'em in the oven for a bit.

    They sound tasty in either case : )

  2. Oh wow, Im going to have to go make these now!

  3. I was hoping for beignets. These will do.

  4. Hello Mrs Humble.

    I hear what Squishfishy is saying. I have a french canadian friend whose mother made these out of leftover dough. (I actually thought she was making it up - the nun fart thing)

  5. I've heard of these, but have never tried them. They look delicious! Though you can never go wrong with fried dough :D YUM.

  6. Squishyfishy, The Clever Pup,

    Ah yes, the French Canadian nuns' farts (pets de soeurs) also known as bourriques de soeurs (nuns' belly buttons -- which I think makes a little more sense given their shape). Pets De Soeurs and Pets de Nonne do have similar names but they are quite different.

    It seems that there are no shortage of nun fart jokes in the pastry world.

  7. Oh this looks delish. So good in fact, that I may be able to someday push the name's true meaning out.

    They seem pretty easy to make! And look like cute little doughnut holes, only more delicate and surely more amazing. I may have to make these sometime soon.

  8. What's the technical difference between this and a beignet? It looks extremely edible, in any case. The French-Canadian thingy mentioned by a previous commenter also looks like something to try.

  9. I love how every country seems to have a variation of fried dough. Can't really go wrong with sweetened and fried dough, can you?

  10. Marina,

    Depending on who you ask, not much. Beignets are made from either fried choux (like the recipe above) or a fried yeast dough (like what one would find in New Orleans).

    These are just bite sized choux beignets.

  11. Bread and Beta,

    Absolutely! There are just so many varieties of fried bread/pastry (loukoumades, beignets, donuts, gulab jamun, on and on...) one could devote an entire blog to exploring them.

  12. I'm usually pretty scared of pastry, but this looks distinctly possible. (I appreciate that your recipes are so clear.) I do love beignets, so this could be a good first step for me into the brave new world of pastry...

  13. I saw this recipe earlier today, saw that I already had everything necessary to make them, and went to work a little while ago. They are DELICIOUS! My husband has a serious weakness for beignets, and he loved that these are just little bite-sized ones! And I think we all got a little giggle out of the name. Thanks for this quick and easy recipe!

  14. This is so funny, the translation between the French and the French Canadian ...
    but i think i prefer the French recipe for the Canadian...

  15. these are the nuns farts i grew up with, made by my acadian mother...

  16. Hahahahhaha that is a funny name alright.. This is the first time I hear about this little heavenly sweets.... those little farts look amazing!

  17. You made me laugh so hard today ("how do you like your nun farts?").
    Thank you!

    Oh, and the treats look delicious, too!

  18. These pets de nonne look perfectly yummy!!

  19. I wish i can have these for breakfast with a chocolat chaud :)

  20. Yum! I have done the yeast fried dough route for years. Time to switch it up and go with the choux dough.

  21. I thought they were usually cocoa-flavoured. Not that I have ever had one.

    I love food with silly names!

  22. I absolutely love your blog. I have been reading it for almost a year now and have never said how much I enjoy it.

    Thanks so much

  23. I heard of this dish years ago... here they are in the Charmingly done!

  24. I'm new to the whole frying dough thing. In trying to make these, I found that the outsides were lovely and crisp and yet the insides were all doughy. I'm sure I just wasn't cooking them long enough. Is there a trick to knowing when these lovely treats are cooked all the way through? Love the blog by the way :-)

  25. Emily,

    In oil over medium heat (325°F-350°F if you're using an oil thermometer) they should cook for about 5-7 minutes. They can be a little pesky as the puffs start looking golden brown and delicious from the outside well before they're fully cooked on the inside.

    The only trick is to resist the urge to remove them from the oil when they begin to look 'done'. They need a nice long bath in the hot oil to cook all the way though.

    The insides of choux will always be a bit moist--it is after all steam that makes this pastry puff up--but the interior should appear fluffy and cooked.

  26. Just have to say thanks for your replies to questions. It is frustrating to read blogs on which there is no follow up. I'm a new, yet devoted fan.

  27. Hahahaha! Our French Canadian family makes the piecrust-scraps-rolled-with-jam-or-brown-sugar/cinnamon treats. We've always called them Nun's Turds. There's a linguistics/sociology/culinary arts journal paper here someplace...


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