Friday, September 23, 2011

Profiteroles: French Cream Puffs or Eclairs

Category: Desserts
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Not Healthy

I taught this in a cooking class once. I actually made this over a stove while people were watching and I was talking. So it's gotta be pretty easy to pull off, yes? I mean, I really am not all that coordinated. To show you how casual I am...my assistant, Kate, wore a Tiara. These are cream puffs--widely eaten in France. The dough is called "pate a choux". If you fill them with vanilla pastry cream and frost them with chocolate ganache, they are called "eclairs". But if you don't want to make pastry cream or ganache, you can fill them with your favorite ice cream. Then, drizzle chocolate sauce on top of them to make a dessert that looks fancy but is relatively easy and inexpensive.

Ingredients:

1 C water
6 T butter, cut into small pieces
1 C all purpose flour, sifted after measuring
1 t sugar
5 large eggs
1/2 t. water

Directions:

In a heavy 2-3 qt. saucepan, bring the 1 C water and the butter to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. As soon as butter has completely melted, remove pan from the heat and pour in flour and sugar all at once. Beat mixture vigorously for 1-2 minutes, or until mixture forms a mass that leaves the sides of the pan and moves freely with the spoon. All of this happens pretty fast, so be ready for the next step: Immediately remove the pan from heat and use a spoon to make a well in the center of the paste. Break and egg into the well and beat it into the paste. After the first egg has been absorbed, add 3 more eggs 1 at a time--beating well after each egg is added. The finished paste should be thick, smooth and shiny.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly butter two large baking sheets. If you don't have a pastry bag, drop teaspoonfuls of the paste onto the baking sheets, allowing the same 2 inches of space between them. This will make smaller profiteroles--they will double in size. These are great to fill with chicken or tuna salad for appetizers. But use 2 t for dessert profiteroles.

Beat the remaining egg with 1/2 t water. Lightly brush the top of each profiterole with mixture. Bake for 6 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400 degrees and bake 5 minutes longer. Reduce the heat to 325 and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until profiteroles have doubled in size and have turned a light golden brown. They should be firm and crusty to the touch. Turn off oven and make a tiny, baby, incision near the bottom of each profiterole with the tip of a sharp knife to release the steam. Let them rest a few minutes to dry out on the inside. Then, place on wire racks to cool. On individual dessert plates, slice in half and fill with ice cream (coffee, peppermint, vanilla bean?) of your choice and drizzle on chocolate sauce. Or make the following...

Pastry Cream Filling For Dessert Profiteroles:

Ingredients:

1/2 C sifted flour
1/2 C sugar
1/8 t salt
2 C milk
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 t vanilla

Mix flour, sugar, and salt in the top of a double boiler.  Add milk slowly, blending until smooth. Heat and stir over direct moderat heat until thick and smooth. Mix 1/2 C hot mixture into eggs, then return to pan. Put over boiling water in other half of double boiler and cook, stirring 2-3 minutes, until thick. Take off the heat, stir in vanilla. Place a piece of  waxed paper or plastic wrap on top sauce to prevent a skin from forming and cool. Chill until ready to use as pastry filling.  Pipe into sliced Profiteroles, put on dessert plates and drizzle with Easy Chocolate Glaze.

Easy Chocolate Glaze:
Heat 1/2 C chocolate chips, 2 T butter and 1 T corn syrup over low heat until chocolate is melted. Cool slightly and drizzle over Profiteroles.



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