Okay so it’s 2016 and I’ve had two weeks of soups, salads and alcohol abstinence. I feel I’ve done my penance and that it is time for a change. Therefore today…
- I’ve cancelled my gym membership with the view to do more outside, sociable active sports that I actually enjoy - not quite sure what yet!
- I illogically celebrated my gym decision by making calorific and indulgent cream filled profiteroles and eating a few (a lot) of them.
- I’m going to have a large glass of wine or two later when the husband gets back from work.
Think I’m aiming for a guilt free, new experiences, easy-going year…
Anyway, these profiteroles are my stable “I’ll bring dessert” fall back when asked to a dinner party. They aren’t quick to make, but they are a pure labour of love and bring immense pleasure to anyone who likes a luxurious but small dessert - assuming you only atone which will never happen.
Despite people saying choux pastry is difficult to make but I actually think it’s the easiest pastry to master. If it’s your first attempt just give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush - you’ll be dead chuffed at how well they turn out.
new year profiteroles
220ml Water 85g Butter
105g plain Flour Pinch of Salt
3 Eggs (at room temperature)
Topping & Filling
250g Belgian Dark Chocolate, minimum 60% cocoa solids, broken into squares
2 tablespoons Water
600ml Double Cream
2 tablespoons Icing Sugar
parchment or grease proof paper
digital stopwatch (phone timer)
thermometer - optional but handy
stand alone mixer
piping set, with a small thin piping nozzle
Put the water into a small saucepan and turn to a low heat. Then cut the cold, hard butter into small cubes and add to the water gently. The butter will melt very, very slowly, about 15mins. Don’t let the water even simmer as you don’t want any water to evaporate.
Whilst the butter is melting tear a piece of parchment paper (about the length of your arm) and fold in half lengthways, open up again and set aside. Then take out two bowls and weigh out the flour and salt into one. Sieve the mixture into the other bowl, and again back into the other bowl to aerate the flour, then sieve straight onto the creased parchment paper. Fold the paper up again and fold over at the top and at one side to seal. (Basically you are making a “shoot” for the flour to go into the saucepan at speed, all at once.)
By now the butter should have melted. Get your flour-filled parchment paper close to the saucepan along with a wooden spoon, a digital stop watch and a plate. Increase the heat in the saucepan to medium high.
The water will start to simmer and then boil and will start to rise up the sides of the pan, with the butter collecting in a pool in the middle. Immediately turn the heat off, shoot the flour into the middle of the water, where the butter is, and start the stop watch. IMMEDIATELY beat the flour in vigorously using the wooden spoon for 20-30 seconds to fully incorporate the flour. The mixture should be thick and a uniform color with no lumps.. (I find having a second person on hand to turn off the pan and start the stop watch helps a lot - but it’s not essential)
This is now your “panade”. Spread the panade onto the plate and leave to cool to approximately 38C/100F (or blood temperature if you don’t have a thermometer).
Meanwhile, break the eggs into a bowl and lightly beat with a fork. When the parade is cool put it into the stand alone mixer bowl and add one tablespoon of egg. Beat until the egg is fully incorporated. Continue adding the egg mixture, a tablespoon at a time, making sure it is fully incorporated each time. The panade will thicken at first but will then become smooth and shiny. To check its consistency, scoop up a spoonful of panade on a wooden spoon. It should fall back from the spoon, into the bowl, in a slow count of six.
You can use the choux pastry straight away or store it in a covered container in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 200C/395F. Lightly oil a baking sheet (wet a piece of kitchen roll with olive oil and wipe it over the baking sheet)
Using a teaspoon make little mounds of pastry on the baking sheet, leaving 4-5cm space between each. If you make them too small they will be difficult to fill, likewise too big and they will need too much filling! Aim to make approximately 24. Use a dampened finger to smooth off the peaks of the pastry.
Bake in the top third of the oven for 20 - 30 mins, until risen, puffed up and a light golden color. Don’t open the oven door before 20 minutes or they may collapse. When ready they will be firm to the touch on the base.
Remove from the oven and turn the temperature to 170C/340F.
Whilst they are hot, turn each one over and pierce the base with a skewer, or the tip of the piping nozzle you are using to fill them with later, taking care not to break them. When pierced, place each shell back down on the baking sheet with the base pointing upwards. Bake again for 5-6 minutes to dry the insides out. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, make the chocolate dipping sauce by putting the chocolate, water and butter in a small heat proof bowl set over a saucepan of just-boiled water, ensuring the bowl does not touch the water. Give it an occasional stir to promote the melting. This is a slow method... but it stops the chocolate from splitting. Whilst the chocolate is melting put the cream and icing sugar into the mixer bowl and whisk to a pipe-able consistency. Do not overwhip! Put the cream in the piping bag fitted with the small nozzle.
When the profiteroles shells are cold, position one gently in the palm of your hand and pipe the cream into the hole. You will be able to feel the cream filling and expanding the shell. Once filled, scape away any escaping cream and return to the wire rack. Fill all the profiteroles.
By now the chocolate should have melted and you are ready to dip the shells. Take a profiterole, and in a gentle, fluid action dip the top of it in the chocolate, turn in one direction to coat and remove in an upwards and twisting action from your wrist to bring it the right way round. Carefully place it, chocolate side up, on a serving plate.
NB: You can freeze the shells, after cooking and before filling them, in an airtight container for up to three months. Defrost them overnight and warm through on a baking sheet in a preheated 190C/360F oven to crisp them up again.