If you’ve spent any time around French cuisine, you know that the art of French pastry is full of passion and delight. It can also take a lot of time, patience and technique. Sometimes, you just want to finish off a meal with something sweet without buying a dessert from the local patisserie or spending time in the kitchen making an intricate if impressive dessert. Here’s a little trick that never fails to win the hearts of even the most particular dinner guest. Profiteroles. Yep, you heard us. Profiteroles. Those delicious little cream puffs filled with ice cream or whipped cream and topped with chocolate sauce. Profiteroles are delicious and easier to make than you think.
The neat thing about Profiteroles is that the choux pastry (the puff in cream puff) can be made in advance, freeze it and use it whenever you want.
The recipe is quite simple. Here’s one variation (for a dozen of the little critters):
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1. Preheat your oven to 400 F (200 C) and put a rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease the pan with butter or non-stick spray.
2. Sift to combine flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.
3. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and water and bring to a boil.
4. Remove from heat, add flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
5. Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until dough comes away from sides of pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about 2 mins.) Transfer the dough to your stand or electric mixer and beat on low speed to release the steam from the dough for about a minute. When dough is lukewarm, slowly add the lightly beaten agges and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste.
6. Spoon 12 small mounds of dough onto the baking sheet about 2 inches (5 cm) apart and gently brush the tops of dough with a lightly beaten egg.
7. Bake for 15 minutes and reduce the oven temperature to 350 F (180 C). Continue baking for 30 to35 minutes or until the shells are golden and almost dry inside.
8. Turn off oven, poke a few holes in each puff with a fork and allow the shells to cool and dry out in the oven with the door open.
Then you can use your favorite of whipped cream, pastry cream or vanilla ice cream for the filling. For the chocolate topping, you can create your own melted chocolate syrup or use your favorite ready-made chocolate syrup. When the pastry is ready, split the shells in half. Place a small scoop of the cream filling of your choice on the bottom and top with the top half of the shell. Drizzle the chocolate syrup over the top and dust with powdered sugar. Profiteroles are often served in threes, but you can make and eat any number that you like.
We’re sure that whatever you’re serving for dinner will be finished off brilliantly by this easy and tasty visit from the art of French pastry.
THE QUICK BITE: Profiteroles, tasty pastry puffs filled with whipped cream or ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce, are as delicious as they are easy to make. They’ll impress your dinner guests with a minimum of effort.