Friday, April 22, 2011

Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce






Everyone loves profiteroles. A classic french dessert made using warm choux pastry, these light and delicate little pastry puffs are filled with fresh cream, custard or ice cream and traditionally covered with a lovely warm chocolate sauce. Profiteroles can also be grouped together to create a spectacular Croquembouche, which is made by stacking cream puffs together in a tall cone shaped pyramid and bound together with sticky toffee. French pastry chef Antoine Careme is credited with creating the first Croquembouche in the late 1700s, however cream puffs had been on the scene long before. 

And no wonder, profiteroles are incredibly easy to make, require few ingredients and can be made ahead of time. Butter, water and sugar are cooked over a gentle heat with some flour and salt, until a smooth paste is formed, after which the mixture is left to cool slightly until the eggs are added, and then the 'choux' is dropped, or piped, onto a baking sheet and baked. Once cool, the puffs are filled with cream and drizzled with warm chocolate sauce. The only real challenge is eating profiteroles without getting cream and chocolate everywhere, but that's most of the fun!



Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce
Makes 20-24

7 oz cold water
½ tsp sugar
3 oz unsalted butter
pinch salt
4 oz plain flour
4 medium eggs, beaten

For the cream filling:
2 1/2 cups double cream
1 tbsp icing sugar

For the chocolate sauce:
½ oz butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp water
6 oz good quality milk or dark chocolate, broken into pieces



Preheat the oven to 400°F.

To make the pastry, place the butter, water and sugar into a large saucepan.
Place over a low heat to melt the butter. Increase the heat and add the flour and salt. Remove from the heat and quickly beat the mixture until it forms a smooth paste, stirring continuously. Once the paste curls away from the side of the pan, transfer the mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes.


Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, stirring vigorously until the paste is smooth and glossy. Continue adding the egg until you have a soft dropping consistency. It may not be necessary to add all the egg. The mixture will be shiny and smooth and will fall reluctantly from a spoon if it is given a sharp jerk.


Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Dip a teaspoon into some warm water and spoon out a teaspoon of the profiterole mixture. Rub the top of the mixture with a wet finger and spoon on to the baking tray. This ensures a crisper topping.


Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown, if too pale they will become soggy when cool.


Remove from the oven and prick the base of each profiterole. Place onto the baking tray with the hole facing upwards and return to the oven for 5 minutes. The warm air from the oven helps to dry the middle of the profiteroles.


Prepare the filling: lightly whip the cream and icing sugar until soft peaks form. Do not overwhip. When the profiteroles are cold, cut them in half and using a piping bag with a plain nozzle, pipe the cream into the middles. Alternatively, 
you may also enjoy filling them with small scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Prepare the chocolate sauce: melt the chocolate with the water, butter and vanilla over a pan of boiling water. Stir without boiling until smooth and shiny.

Arrange the profiteroles as you wish on a lovely serving dish and pour or drizzle the hot sauce over top. If you're feeling courageous, you can try and build a pyramid for a true Croquembouche. Profiteroles can be enjoyed either warm or cold, but are best served the day they're made.

COOK'S NOTE: For √©clairs, instead of making ball shapes, pipe long 3-4" lines and follow the same filling procedure as for profiteroles. As an hors d'oeuvre you could also substitute the classic sweet filling for a savoury one, like Salmon mousse with tiny slices of smoked salmon wedged inside, chicken with mushroom sauce...