Monday, March 27, 2006

Profiteroles

Many people I know have choux phobia. Certainly not in terms of eating these delicate, light-as-air delights, but making them. Something about a little bun whose construction seems to defy gravity breeds fear into most cooks. Some have even been convinced that to make them one has to somehow magically form a hollow sphere from raw ingredients and deep fry it to achieve the crisp empty shell that swallows up all manner of scented creams or louche patisserie fillings. Easy peasy Japanese-y, I say. And forthwith, whipped up a batch for admiring onlookers after lunch the other day.

Originating in 16th century Florence, and brought to France by Catherine de Medici, the current incarnation of terminology was adopted in 1760 by Monsieur Avice, a famous French Patissiere. He believed the little buns resembled cabbages, or ‘choux’ in French.

Pre-heat your oven to 200°C

Put ¾ cup of water and 60 grams of unsalted butter into a large pan and bring to the boil, making sure the butter is all dissolved. Immediately add 125 grams of sifted plain flour and a pinch of salt all at once, remove from the heat, and stir briskly with a wooden spoon until combined and the raw pastry clumps up and pulls away from the edges of the pan into one lump.

Off the heat add three eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition of egg until they are incorporated. Your pastry will be smooth and glossy.

Drop teaspoons or tablespoons of the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with silicone paper (depending on whether you want dainty girly ones or big butch ones) and bake in the oven for 20-40 minutes depending on the size of the buns. Don’t open the oven door for at least the first 15 mins of cooking. They need the initial burst of constant heat to puff them up and make them crisp. If they start looking too brown, knock back the heat by 10°C or so. The pastry will puff and dry out as cooking progresses and you can help this along by removing them from the oven a few minutes before the end of cooking and making a slit in the side so the interior dries out a little more. You can also slit them and turn off the oven leaving them to dry out for 10 minutes or more after cooking is finished. Make sure you leave the oven door ajar so steam doesn’t build up and make them soggy. Finish by cooling completely on a wire rack.

Then your imagination can run wild. The easiest dessert presentation is a simple whipped cream and chocolate coating. To 250 mls of cream add a teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract and a tablespoon of liqueur and whip to stiff peaks. Spoon or pipe the cream into the puff. Melt about 150-250 g of 63 -70% (cocoa solid content) couverture chocolate over a double boiler and allow to cool slightly. Drizzle over the filled puffs and it will set to a crisp hard chocolate coating. Voila!

5 Comments:

Blogger PiCkLeS said...

Love it!

Don't know if i am game to give it a go though...but geez people would be impressed at a party!

4:33 PM  
Anonymous helen said...

Yum. These look great. You can always count on profiteroles to ensure your dinner party guests leave smiling =)

10:49 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Go on pickles - jump right in!

They sure had a 'chololate smile' on their face after tucking in to these babies, Helen!

8:12 AM  
Blogger Ange said...

These look fantastic! I know what I would rather be eating for breakfast now than my yoghurt

9:39 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

Hey - profiteroles WITH yoghurt! What a great idea Ange! It almost sounds healthy.

3:46 PM  

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