To make the craquelin, mix the flour, sugar, activated charcoal and butter together in a bowl, using your fingertips rub the ingredients together until they resemble breadcrumbs.
Press the breadcrumbs together until they form a dough. Place the craquelin between two sheets of greaseproof paper and roll out the dough until it's 2mm thick. Place the dough on a baking tray, still covered in the greaseproof paper and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes or overnight.
Take the craquelin from the freezer and cut out 12 x 3cm rings and 12 x 5cm rings. Return the craquelin discs to the freezer until you need them. You’ll need to work speedily as they thaw very quickly.
Next make the choux pastry, preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan) Gas 4 and line two baking trays with baking parchment, draw 12 circles of 3cm on one piece of baking parchment and 12 circles of 5cm on the other piece, turn the paper over so the circles are on the reverse.
Put the butter, salt, sugar and 120ml water in a medium pan over a medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and the mixture is at a rolling boil, add the flour and activated charcoal and quickly stir together with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a dough.
With the pan still on a low heat, stir vigorously for 2 minutes, then tip the dough into a bowl and beat for a few minutes until it stops steaming.
Add the first two eggs, one at a time, beating until fully absorbed before adding the next.
When you get to the third egg, add a little at a time until you have dough that falls from the spatula in a ribbon that forms a "V" shape, you probably wont need the whole egg as you don’t want a wet dough. Put the choux pastry into a piping bag with a 1.5cm plain round piping tip fitted.
Pipe rounds of choux pastry on the prepared baking trays so that the pastry fills the circles you have drawn.
Top each choux pastry round with a corresponding sized craquelin disc and place the trays of choux pastry in the oven to cook for 30 minutes until the choux has risen.
Turn off the oven and leave the choux pastry in the oven for 30 minutes to dry out further.
***Fondant Icing Flours***
Take the fondant icing and roll it out on a non-stick mat or piece of baking parchment. Using a flower plunger cutter cut out flowers to the size that you want and place them to one side to dry out.
***Gin, Cinnamon and Dark Chocolate Cremeux***
Place the cream and milk in a saucepan with the cinnamon stick, bring to the boil and set to one side and leave to cool for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Place the chocolate in a large bowl and put to one side.
Strain the cream and milk, removing the cinnamon stick and return it to the saucepan along with the vanilla bean paste. Bring the mixture to a boil again.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until light and pale.
Add half the cream and milk mixture to the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk until smooth and then return to the pan.
Stir until thickened slightly, then remove from the heat and pass through a fine sieve over the chocolate, mix until the chocolate has all melted and is smooth.
Slowly add the butter a piece at a time until it has melted and is completely combined. Place the cremeux in a piping bag with a 1cm tip fitted. Don’t let the cremeux set too much or it will be too tough to pipe.
***Orange and Gin Chantilly Cream***
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and whip until the cream forms soft peaks, you don’t want to over whip it, or it will take on a horrible texture.
Put the cream in a piping bag with a 1cm tip fitted and place in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl and slowly add the blueberry puree until you get a thick consistency that will not fall down the sides of the choux pastry. You may not need all of the puree.
Take the choux buns and using a sharp knife pierce a hole in the base of all 24.
Fill the larger choux buns with the chocolate cremeux, piping through the hole and stopping when the choux puffs up and feels heavier.
Take the smaller choux and fill each one with Chantilly cream, piping through the hole and stopping when the choux puffs up and feels heavier.
Take a larger choux bun and dip it in the blueberry fondant until it is half coated in icing. Take a smaller choux bun, dip it in the fondant and sit it on top of the larger iced choux bun to create the iconic religieuse shape. Decorate with the fondant icing flowers however you’d like and then repeat with the remaining 11 religieuse.
These are best eaten on the day they are made, but can be eaten up to 2 days after you make them.