The boom years saw trend after trend emerge and followed and so too in our kitchens. In the decadent world of patisserie, cupcakes, macaroons and whoopie pies filled bakery windows dressed up in an array of extravagant colours to tempt us. More recently in the world of home design and decor we are seeing a move away from the stark and modern and return to the kitsch, cosy and warm sending stylists in search of the homely and vintage and quite often reclaiming what is old and transforming it into something new.
The latest edition of Red Magazine (my lifestyle bible) heralds the “Return of a classic. Bite-sized puffs of pastry, smooth pastry cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce…Profiteroles are back on our dinner-party menu.” Likewise in the current edition of BBC Good Food Magazine profiteroles are treated to a one-page spread. There is a temptation when let loose in the kitchen to mix things up a bit, perhaps add a splash of brandy or Baileys to the cream or morph the sauce into something with more of a toffee persuasion. I would say no, it’s time to take a step back, hold off on the flourishes and let them be. Simple, classic and very, very good.
In making the profiteroles I had three recipes in front of me to choose from and decided to turn to the oldest ‘McDonnells second Good Food Cook Book’ printed in 1980. That was until it came to the baking instructions. The McDonnells book said to turn down the temperature half way through cooking but the magazines said to turn it up so I went with the majority on that instruction and turned it up.
Profiterole Shells – Choux Pastry
You will need:
Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6. Line 2 or 3 baking trays with parchment paper.
Sift the flour into a bowl.
Place the butter in a saucepan with the water and put it on the hob to melt. Once melted bring to the boil and take it off the heat.
Stir the water and butter in the saucepan with a wooden spoon in one hand as you add in the flour with the other hand beating continuously until smooth.
At this stage you should have a smooth soft pastry ball.
Leave to cool for 5 minutes.
Lightly beat the two eggs in a bowl.
Add one third of the egg to the pastry and beat with a wooden spoon. It will seem to separate and collapse but keep beating until it begins to stiffen up again.
Add the next third of egg and again beat until the pastry is back to a stiffened mixture and do the same with the remaining egg.
Spoon small blobs of the pastry onto the baking sheets, spaced well apart. Use no more than half a tablespoon and you should get 18 -20 small profiteroles out of this quantity.
Place in the oven and bake at this temperature for 15 minutes, then raise the temperature to 220/Gas Mark 7 for 10 minutes.
As soon as they are out of the oven cut a slit in the side to release the steam, otherwise they will collapse. Allow to cool on wire rack.
When it came to this stage and I looked at the list of ingredients and was tempted to say skip that and use whipped cream with a little icing sugar instead. If time is pressing you can do that and they will be delicious but not as creamy and filling as with the pastry cream. I think this should really be called a pastry custard.
You will need
Half tsp vanilla extract
40g caster sugar
150ml whipping cream
Bring the milk and vanilla extract to the boil in a saucepan and take off the heat.
Use an electric mixer to cream together the eggs, caster sugar and flour.
Gradually add the hot vanilla milk into the egg, sugar and flour in the electric mixer.
Add in the butter.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and bring back to the boil stirring continuously to form smooth thick custard like cream. Do not allow to stick to bottom of pan.
Pour the pastry cream into a bowl and sprinkle the top with caster sugar to prevent a skin forming.
Once the pastry cream is cool, beat the whipping cream until beginning to stiffen and then fold this in with a spoon.
You will need:
100g dark chocolate (70%+)
150 ml water
50g caster sugar
Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a saucepan with the water.
Keeping the saucepan on the heat stir in the sugar until dissolved, mixing well.
Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes until thick and glossy but still a drizzling consistency – keep stirring occasionally as it simmers.
To assemble the profiteroles fill the choux pastry shells with the pastry cream using either a piping bag or a teaspoon and then stack them together before drizzling generously with the chocolate sauce. Enjoy!
In order to test the profiteroles we had to break lent last Sunday – oh the sacrafices! Generally there is a ban on sweet things until Easter and I think it’s ok to break it on the odd Sunday and Patrick’s Day (the cheesecake yesterday shall not be mentioned). I’m back on track now however and will try to come up with something healthy and tasty to balance out the blog pages later in the week.
Til next time, Sheila.