A profiterole is a classic tiny filled ball made from the French Pâte à choux dough. ( the only dough cooked twice) typically sweet, but can also be savory. This pastry is used to also make, croquenbouches, éclairs French crullers, beignets, St. Honoré cake, Parisian gnocchi, and gougères to name a few of my favorites.
Dessert profiteroles are usually filled with whipped cream, custard, pastry cream, or as in the USA, vanilla bean ice cream. These cute little puff balls may be decorated, left plain or garnished with warm chocolate sauce, caramel, or a dusting of powdered sugar. They can be made ahead of time and frozen until ready to serve. So delicious you can’t eat just one!
1 cup whole milk
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon water
Vanilla Ice Cream, ( only need 1/2) recipe follows
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Chocolate Sauce, recipe below
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two high sided baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat and set aside.
In a heavy bottomed, medium sized saucepan, combine the milk, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat and cook until the butter is melted.
Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once, stir vigorously with a large wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. Return the pan to medium-low heat and stir briskly until the mixture becomes a smooth paste and pulls away from the sides of the pan in a ball. 1 to 2 minutes. ( Steam will be coming off the dough very quickly while the flour cooks and evaporation occurs.)
Once the flour is cooked, about 2-3 minutes–remove from the heat. Mash the dough ball open and allow it to cool slightly.
Place the dough ball in the bowl of your standing mixer, or a medium mixing bowl and mix on medium high speed. Begin to add 4 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Always make sure the dough is smooth before the next addition. At first the dough will look as though it is separating, but just continue to beat until it comes together. After all the eggs have been thoroughly mixed in— allow the dough cool.
Beat the remaining egg with the water in a small bowl to make an egg wash add a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain 3/4-inch tip and pipe out 16 golf ball-sized rounds, 2 inches apart onto the baking sheets. If you don’t have a parchment bag with a tip, use a gallon sized food storage bag and snip off a corner. With a wet finger tip, press down any points on top of the balls or they will burn.
Lightly brush the egg wash on the tops and sides of the dough using a pastry brush and bake until doubled in size about 15-18 minutes.
Reduce the temperature of the oven to 375’ F degrees and bake until the balls are golden brown, puffed and firm to the touch— and hollow inside. About 8 to 10 minutes, depending on your oven. Turn off the oven and leave the oven door ajar for 10 minutes for the puffs to dry.
Cool puff balls completely on a wire rack for an additional hour. Cut each profiterole leaving 2/3 at the bottom and cutting off 1/3 at the top. Scoop out the doughy centers with a small spoon and discard.
To serve, fill the bottom halves with a small scoop about 1-ounce of vanilla bean ice cream and cover with the top. Place 2 to 4 profiteroles on each dessert plate and sift the confectioners’ sugar over the profiteroles and decoratively onto the plate or drizzle each profiterole with warm chocolate sauce and serve immediately.
Vanilla Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split in 1/2 lengthwise and seeds scraped
6 large egg yolks
In a heavy bottomed, medium sized saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla seeds and pod. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg yolks until creamy and lemon colored, about 2-4 minutes. Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolks in a slow, steady stream. This is called tempering. ( brining the egg yields up in temperature to the milk, this step helps prevent the eggs from scrambling ) once the egg mixture has been tempered with the hot cream, gradually add all the egg mixture to the hot cream in the pan, whisking constantly. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring, occasionally, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Do not walk away, it can burn easily or scramble.
Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly against the surface of the custard to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.
Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.
Makes Approximately 1 quart
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 pound good quality 60 – 70% semisweet chocolate, in chips or cut into chunks about 1 1/3 cups
1/4 teaspoon good quality pure vanilla extract
In a medium sized sauce pan with high sides bring the cream to a boil and remove from the heat. ( Careful cream does not boil over).
Add the chocolate and vanilla to the cream and let sit for 2-3 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Serve slightly warm. The sauce can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; rewarm gently before serving.
Makes Approximately 1 1/2 cups
Variation: Add a Tablespoon of Framboise liquor for a Raspberry finish or Grand Mariner Liquor for a Orange finish. Both flavors are a great pairing with chocolate.