Friday, April 5, 2013

Profiteroles


Profiteroles a.k.a. choux à la crème a.k.a. cream puffs a.k.a. choux pastry is a puffy pastry filled with a cream and drizzled or dipped in chocolate. The batter, called a pâte à choux literally translated means cabbage paste because of how the puffs looks like little cabbages once it's baked. The dough doesn't use any leavening agent but instead, relies on the moisture in the batter to turn into steam to puff up the dough as it cooks. This basic dough is great for making profiteroles but can also be used to make eclairs and funnel cake and churros and beignets as well as savory pastries like gougère but those are all recipes for another day.
Ingredients [makes about 2½ dozen puffs]:
½ cup water
½ stick butter (¼ cup)
½ cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
2 eggs

+ ½ cup heavy cream
+ 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

+ ⅓ cup heavy cream
+ ¼ cup chocolate chips (I prefer bittersweet or dark)
+ 2 tablespoons Nutella

I also included ice cream in this photo of potential filling/topping ingredients because filling the pastries with ice cream would be amazing in the summer time. Get your creative juices flowing - you don't always have to follow a recipe to a T.

So first things first, measure out the flour, salt, and sugar and put the butter and water in a saucepan.
Place the saucepan over medium heat and let the butter melt into the water and then come to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and add in the sugar, salt, and flour. Stir everything together with a spoon or fork. It will feel loose and liquid-y at first but as you stir, the dough will come together. Stir continuously until the dough forms a ball. Then keep mixing the dough for two more minutes. This is to evaporate more moisture out of the dough, which will help prevent the dough from collapsing when it bakes.

If you have a standing mixer, transfer the dough to that - and yes, you are mixing the dough while it's still hot. If you have a hand held mixer, transfer your dough to a bowl or if you're like me, just leave it in your saucepan. Use the mixer to break up the dough a bit and then add in one egg and mix. The dough might look a little loose at first but the egg will start to absorb (which is part of the reason why the dough is cooked a little longer on the stove because the more moisture is cooked out the dough, the easier it will be for the dough to absorb the eggs). Once the first egg is fully incorporated, add in the second egg and mix it up. The batter should be shiny and sticky but also kind of firm with an almost toothpaste-like consistency.
Scrape the dough off the sides and off of the beaters and then cover with saran wrap and set aside to cool and rest for about 1 hour, because at this point, it should still be a bit warm.
After an hour, get a piping bag or zip-top bag ready and fill it with the batter.
On a greased or lined cookie sheet (lined with either parchment paper or a silicon baking mat), pipe out little 1" rounds of batter.
Moisten your finger with a bit of water to pat down the peaks.
Place the puffs in a 425 degree oven for 18 to 22 minutes until golden brown. Don't disturb them by opening the oven door during the baking process, otherwise, they may deflate.
When they look puffed up and pretty like these, turn off the oven and take them out.
Use a knife or toothpick to poke holes in each puff. Be careful though, because they're hot!
Poking a hole in them will help the hot steam inside escape and prevent them from collapsing.
Place the puffs back in the oven (which is off but still hot) and leave the door slightly ajar. This will help dry them out, which is even more insurance to prevent them from deflating. 10 minutes in the oven should do it.
After that, take them out and leave them on a drying rack to cool. These can be made up to 3 days in advance - just store them in an airtight container.

I like to fill my profiteroles with whipped cream. Just beat some whipped cream and powdered sugar together until lovely and fluffy.
And to drizzle on top: a chocolate hazelnut sauce. Place chocolate chips and Nutella in a bowl. Heat up some heavy cream and pour over the chocolate and whisk together until a lovely smooth and shiny sauce forms. This is essentially a ganache so once it's left to cool, it will harden. If you're making this ahead of time, just warm up the sauce in the microwave for a few seconds to restore it to liquid form.
And now it's time to assemble.
Cut the puffs in half and fill with the whipped cream. Top them (to form little sandwiches almost) and then drizzle with the chocolate hazelnut sauce.
Here's a little close up for you:
Are you drooling yet?
Dig in.
The final result:

Here's the recipe page:

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