It’s fabulous Friday, the weekend is almost here (we call it the Preekend because it’s pre-weekend), so I like to make something special. When I was a young girl, both my Mum & Grandma would bake all kinds of wonderful delicious treats, including the most beautifully light, crisp choux pastry (pâte à choux). I remember sitting in the kitchen, watching in amazement as my Mum vigorously beat the dough with such ease, making it seem so effortless. Of course, I learned later on there is a lot of effort that goes into them – although simple to make, profiteroles need plenty of stamina!
The best bit was when these plump little pastries would be generously glazed with glossy, gooey chocolate sauce & adorned with homemade sparkly spun sugar. My Mum swiftly whipped a molten sugar-dipped fork through the air & glittery, golden sugar strands would appear as if by magic! Although I don’t tend to make spun sugar very often, I do still make proper profiteroles & once you have tried them, you’ll be hooked too. Ready to bake it happen? Hands washed & aprons on!
What you need:
4oz Plain Flour
2oz Salted Butter (plus extra for greasing trays)
A quarter of a pint of cold Water
3 large Eggs
600ml fresh Double Cream (for filling)
What to do:
Pre-heat the oven to 220*C.
Place the butter in a medium sized saucepan & add the water. Gently heat until the butter is completely melted, then bring to the boil.
Remove the pan from the heat & add the flour, stirring well.
Put the pan back on the heat, stirring continuously until the mixture comes together into a ball in the pan, then leave to cool.
Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.
Once the mixture has cooled, this is where you need your muscles! Grab a wooden spoon & gradually add the eggs a bit at a time, while beating them vigorously into the mixture, until you have a silky smooth golden dough. Then you’re ready to pipe!
Prepare your baking trays – smudge with a little butter, then run them under cold water & tip off the excess (you need a film of moisture to create steam in the oven to help raise them).
Tip your choux paste into a piping bag with round nozzle attachment (usually about 1cm sized). Sometimes, I like to use a star nozzle because it gives extra texture (which attracts more chocolate sauce later – planning ahead!). If you stand your piping bag over a tall mug or jug, folding the edges over the top to hold it in place, you can do this with ease & avoid losing your choux paste. Once filled, get rid of any excess air from the bag & twist the top tightly closed (after all that hard work, you don’t want your bag bursting!).
Pipe the mixture into round little dollops about an inch big, leaving an inch or two gap between each of them so they can grow.
Bake for 20 minutes until risen & slightly golden. Tip onto a wire rack & while they’re still warm, make a little hole in the side of each (gently poke the end of a knife in). Leave to cool.
Once cooled, your profiteroles are ready! If you are preparing them in advance, you can freeze them unfilled & a few at a time in a single layer. They crisp up beautifully in a warm oven for a couple of minutes & you’ll be able to dish up a dessert at a moment’s notice.
Fill your piping bag with whipped cream & pipe into the tiny hole you made in each profiterole, until just full. Stack them up on your plate or put them in the fridge in a covered dish, but don’t leave them too long as they will go soggy.
Generously drizzle warm, chocolate sauce over them & serve! You want the recipe for chocolate sauce, don’t you? It’s really easy to make & one of my favourite “chuck it all in a pan” recipes. I make jars of this & store it in the fridge or the cold pantry, then warm it up to make it runny enough to pour over cupcakes (it tastes fabulous spread on hot toast too). Here it is!
What you need:
4oz Butter, cut into small chunks
8oz Plain Chocolate, chopped into chunks
14oz tin of sweetened Condensed Milk
What to do:
Pour the milk into a dry small saucepan, add the butter & chocolate chunks.
Heat gently on low, slowly stirring with a whisk & making sure everything is combined, for about four or five minutes. It should be glossy, smooth & silky.
That’s it! Your sauce is ready, so pour it into a nice serving jug or sauce boat just before the dessert is plated up. This also makes a fabulous fondue with chunks of pineapple, whole strawberries or fluffy marshmallows dipped in (elasticated waistbands are advisable though).
They even freeze well (unfilled), so you can have a stash ready for unexpected guests or just as a treat when you fancy them.
Those plump little pastries melt in a crisp, gooey cream & chocolatey mouthful within seconds, although they always linger much longer in my memory. Stay hungry! 😉 Aimee x