Profiteroles, also known as cream puffs or choux à la crème in French, are choux pastry balls filled with whipped cream or ice cream and topped with a rich, chocolate sauce. Profiteroles are the perfect dinner party dessert; they are easy to make, yet impressive when served. Here’s a simple yet delicious recipe for classic profiteroles, along with some ideas for possible variations.
Put the water, butter, salt, and sugar in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil, stirring until the butter has melted. Take the saucepan off of the heat and leave to cool slightly for 2-3 minutes.
Add the flour.
Add the flour to the butter mixture and beat with a wooden spoon or whisk until everything comes together. Put the saucepan back on the heat and beat vigorously until everything is off the sides of the saucepan. The dough will lump together and there will be a film on the bottom of the pan.
Add the eggs.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl or the bowl of a mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon or electric mixer after each addition.
It may seem like the mixture will not come back together, but don’t worry, it will – just keep beating.
Transfer to a pastry bag.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then transfer the warm mixture into a pastry bag. Pipe approximately 18-22 drops of pastry onto the baking sheet, about one inch apart.
The pastry drops should be about 1 1⁄4 inches (3.2 cm) wide and 1 inch (2.5 cm) high.
If you do not have a pastry bag, you can use a spoon to place drops of pastry on the baking sheet.
Smooth the peaks.
Moisten your finger with water and use it to lightly press down the swirl at the top of each puff.
At this point you can also brush the pastries with egg wash, if you would like them to be shiny after baking.
Bake the pastries.
Place the baking sheet in an oven preheated to 425 °F (218 °C). Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are puffed and golden brown.
Prick each profiterole once with a skewer, then return to the oven to dry for about 3 minutes, propping the oven door slightly ajar.
Cool on a sheet of baking paper on a wire rack.
Heat the sugar.
Heat the sugar in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over a medium heat, stirring with a fork. When the sugar starts to melt, stop stirring and cook, swirling the pan occasionally so the sugar will melt evenly. The sugar is ready when it turns dark amber in color.
Add the cream.
Remove the saucepan containing the caramelized sugar from the heat. Add in the cup of heavy cream, along with a pinch of salt. The mixture will bubble and steam, but don’t worry, this is normal. Return the saucepan to the heat and stir until the caramel has dissolved.
Add the chocolate.
Roughly chop the chocolate using a sharp knife. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add in the chopped chocolate. Whisk continuously, until the chocolate has melted.
Add the flavoring.
Whisk in the vanilla extract, along with the Cognac or brandy, if using.
Keep the chocolate sauce warm until you are ready to serve the profiteroles. Cover the saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring occasionally.
Cut the pastries in half.
Slice each pastry puff in half, lengthwise, using a bread knife. The pastry should be sliced similar to a hamburger bun and there should be a large hole inside each puff.
<img src='https://i0.wp.com/www.wikihow.com/images/thumb/a/a2/Make-Profiteroles-%28Cream-Puffs%29-Step-13.jpg/aid1332277-v4-728px-Make-Profiteroles-%28Cream-Puffs%29-Step-13.jpg' alt='Make the cream filling.’ width=’900′ height=’599′ />
Beat 1 cup of heavy cream until it forms soft peaks, using an electric whisk. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar until dissolved.
To make Chantilly cream, scrape the the seeds from 1-2 vanilla pods and add to the whipped cream.
If you prefer, you can use a good quality vanilla ice cream in place of the whipped cream.
Fill the pastries.
Place a spoonful of whipped cream or ice cream onto one half of a pastry puff, then use the other half to sandwich the profiterole together.
Alternatively, you may use a pastry bag to “inject” the cream directly into the center of a pastry puff.
Arrange three profiteroles onto each serving plate and drizzle generously with the warm chocolate sauce. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Serve immediately.
<img src='https://i0.wp.com/www.wikihow.com/images/thumb/6/67/Make-Profiteroles-%28Cream-Puffs%29-Step-16.jpg/aid1332277-v4-728px-Make-Profiteroles-%28Cream-Puffs%29-Step-16.jpg' alt='Use caramel sauce.’ width=’900′ height=’599′ />
The chocolate sauce can be replaced with caramel for a sticky-sweet alternative. To make a caramel sauce:
Combine 1 1/3 cups of sugar and 1/3 cup water in a large, heavy saucepan over a medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Turn the heat to high and boil until the syrup turns a deep amber color. Do not stir the mixture, swirl the pan instead. Use a wet pastry brush to brush any syrup from the sides of the pan.
Add 2/3 of a cup of whipping cream, the mixture will bubble vigorously.
Whisk in 1/2 stick of butter, until melted. Remove from heat.
A pinch of ground cinnamon may be added to the pastry mixture for warm, slightly spicy alternative. You can also add a pinch of cinnamon to the chocolate sauce, to complement the cinnamon pastries.
For a seasonal twist, use pumpkin flavored ice cream to sandwich the cinnamon profiteroles together.
You may add two tablespoons of prepared, strong coffee to the chocolate sauce for a caffeinated kick. Use coffee ice cream to fill the profiteroles to enhance the coffee flavor.
Use confectioners’ sugar.
For lighter profiteroles, substitute the chocolate sauce with a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Use a sieve to ensure the profiteroles are evenly coated with the sugar.
<img src='https://i0.wp.com/www.wikihow.com/images/thumb/1/11/Make-Profiteroles-%28Cream-Puffs%29-Step-20.jpg/aid1332277-v4-728px-Make-Profiteroles-%28Cream-Puffs%29-Step-20.jpg' alt='Assemble a croquembouche.’ width=’900′ height=’599′ />
A croquembouche is basically a tower of profiteroles, assembled using toothpicks and chocolate sauce. It makes a very impressive centerpiece for a dinner party.
Gougères are savory profiteroles, filled with cheese. To make gougères, add 2/3 of a cup of Gruyère cheese to the choux pastry before baking. Add a teaspoon of mustard and a few grains of cayenne, if desired. Stir to combine. Sprinkle some additional cheese on top before baking.