Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Profiteroles (Cream Puffs)...


Ahhh profiteroles-- those cute tender-crisp hollow airy puffs filled with creamy vanilla pastry or as my Montreal-raised husband has been chiding forever, ice cream. "Restaurants don't make proper profiteroles anymore. They do it easy with prepared crème glacé." In his mind, every part of a profiterole takes a skillful artisan to dole out-- the understanding of food science inner workings between flour, water, butter and eggs to produce the fluffy choux pastry shell (the same dough that makes beautiful éclairs) and having the patience and masterful technique to whip up a luscious cream filling. In the spirit of a workplace cookie exchange, this prompted him to roll up his sleeves and attempt to uncomplicate his favourite classic treat with a nod to la belle province. 

As a starting point, we know we just can't go wrong with recipes from Mr. Montreal food pro himself, cookbook author and TV food host & personality Ricardo. Following his measurements and recipe instructions to a tee (recipe was quadrupled for the exchange needs), will my husband eat his words or will he and everyone else eat his profiteroles???

This hefty batch looks pretty good huh?

Success-- YAY! This was indeed a fantastic fool-proof recipe-- just make sure you follow each step by step (I've added some tips and watch-outs along the way).

Profiteroles (Cream Puffs) (adapted by Ricardo)
Makes 16 profiteroles  (double or triple the ingredients to feed a crowd)

1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of water
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp. of sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
4 eggs

Choux pastry: 
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper (if using two make sure they fit side-by-side in oven). In a saucepan, bring to boil milk, water, butter, sugar and salt (mixture has to come to a rolling boil-- this helps the pastry's aeration). Remove the pan from the heat and you must add the flour all at once (this helps the starch swell and absorb the liquid so the dough has structure). Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a smooth ball that comes off the pan sides. Put the pan back on a low heat and cook stirring the dough for about two minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes. 

Add the eggs one at a time, vigorously beating with a wooden spoon or electric mixer between each addition, until the dough is smooth and homogeneous. Eggs are a leavening agent and the yolks add fat for a tender and light texture. Egg proteins add to the structure of the cream puff.

Using a pastry bag or large plastic freezer bag with a 1 cm (1/2 inch) round tip filled with choux pastry, emit 16 mounds the size of a golf ball leaving 1-inch in between on the baking sheet (they grow). Or use two spoons to set. Flatten the tips with a finger dipped in a bit of water. Bake in the centre of the oven about 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven, and cut a tiny slit in the side of each puff to let some of the steam escape. This allows the inside of the puff to dry out, stiffening the structure. 


To make it easy, we used two spoons- one for spooning and the other for swiping the pastry onto the baking sheet.


Voila Magic-- light, airy and fluffy little hollow balls!


Cut a tiny slit in the side of each puff to let some of the steam escape so the insides will dry out, and create a firm but tender-crisp shell. 


Now for the pastry cream... Does it really take that much effort and skill?

Vanilla Pastry Cream (adapted by Ricardo)

2/3 cup sugar 
1/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour 
2 eggs 
2 cups milk, warm 
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 

In a saucepan, (not on heat) combine the sugar and flour. Add the eggs and whisk until the mixture is smooth and even. Add the hot milk gradually while whisking. Bring to a complete boil over medium heat, whisking constantly and scraping the bottom and corners of the pan. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir until thick. To prevent the formation of a skin on the surface of the pastry cream, place a plastic wrap directly on the hot cream. Let cool. Refrigerate until completely cool, about three hours. 

Not bad right to make a classic profiterole cream filling? 
Ok, No excuses restaurants!  Even my 6-year old was helping good ol' dad out :D

Whisk, whisk baby!


Add the hot milk and whisk, whisk baby!

Pastry cream is ready when it thickly coats the back of a spoon.

Fill each choux pastry with some cream. You can pipe it in or spoon it if the slit is big enough.


Wow, I am impressed honey! Way To Go!! A+ for effort and originality!


The cookie exchange with my husband's 11 colleagues went deliriously super! Everyone baked up about 72 pieces and exchanged six of their own sweet offerings with others times 11 :D. And he said his delicious pastries were an original with the staff admiring the cuties. 

Here were the eye-popping variety of beauties that came back in nicely packed boxes!
Sweet treats for a week! Where to begin?





What are you baking up to celebrate this season?



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