Back when I was learning how to cook and was trying so many new things, I saw an article about profiteroles. There was a magazine cover with twenty or thirty mini profiteroles on a tray and I knew I had to master these little bites. They aren’t at all difficult and after my first attempt, I knew this was recipe was a keeper. Traditionally this dough (known as pate a choux in French) is used for cream puffs and eclairs and is filled with pastry cream. Once you fill them with ice cream, they’re known as profiteroles. I’ve never been much of a fan of pastry cream, but give me something filled with ice cream and topped with fudge sauce and I’m all over it!
Besides using this dough for desserts, I have to mention that it’s also wonderful with savory fillings. After seeing the article and learning the art of pate a choux I had my very first catering job. I was working at a lovely, small kitchenwares shop and they were opening a new store and asked me to cater the opening party. I was so excited, but secretly wondered “Are they crazy? I’ve never catered anything!”. With this new dough under my belt I decided to make mini puffs and filled them with chicken, egg and shrimp salads. They were a success and I even got a few jobs based on my hors d’oeuvres.
All the recipes for pate a choux are virtually the same-water, butter, salt, flour and eggs. You heat the water, salt and butter, add the flour and stir, stir, stir, mix in the eggs and there you go. Last year I happened upon Ina Garten’s recipe which is exactly the same, except instead of using water, she uses milk and I’ve decided that this is the way to go. They seem to get a crispier finish, which I think is wonderful.
1 cup milk
1 stick unsalted butter
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 extra-large eggs
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the butter, milk and salt over medium heat until scalded. When the butter is melted, add the flour all at once and beat it with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and forms a dough. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 2 minutes. The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the pan. Dump the mixture into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the eggs and pulse until the eggs are incorporated into the dough and the mixture is thick. (You could also do this using a hand mixture-add eggs one a time, and mix until the dough is smooth and shiny).
Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip. Let me tell you this dough is really thick and sticky! Pipe into mounds about 1-1/2″ wide and 1″ high onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You should have about 18 puffs. I made mine larger and made about 10. With a wet finger, lightly press down the swirl at the top of each puff. Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, then turn off the oven and allow them to sit for another 10 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped. Make a slit in the side of each puff to allow the steam to escape. Set aside to cool. Makes: 18 small profiteroles
Fill with ice cream-I used vanilla and coffee-and top with hot fudge. Enjoy!