Profiteroles

It’s been a bit longer than usual since I’ve been here. One reason I haven’t blogged more is the usual laziness, the other is I got sinusitis again and slept through almost a whole week. I actually made these profiteroles the weekend before I got sick so didn’t get the chance to post them.

Have you heard about Germany’s 5th season? That’s what we call carnival season, which starts on November 11 at 11:11 am every year and ends with Ash Wednesday. The most popular fare in carnival season here in the South are Berliner, which originally were a jam filled kind of donut sprinkled with either sugar crystals or icing sugar.

Since my childhood the Berliner has evolved and can be bought with a large variety of fillings, from different jams to pudding to pastry cream. The icing comes in many colours, too. My favourite filling is a pastry cream with Advocaat or a simple pastry cream, which makes it more of a Boston cream donut.

Mid-February I’d still had only one Berliner because somehow whenever I made it to a bakery on my way home from work, the best ones were already sold out. The craving was quite persistent, so I thought I’d have to do something about it at home.

Since I’m not too keen on home-frying, I decided to make profiteroles instead, filled with pastry cream. In 2012 – I couldn’t believe it was so long ago when I dug out the recipes! – I attended a puddings & pastries course in Devon, England, and the profiteroles and pastry cream we made there were the thing that has stayed in my memory ever since.

I really don’t know why it took me so long to make these again, I remember making everything we learned at the course once right when I returned home but never since.

The recipe looks very long but it really doesn’t take long at all, the pastry cream just has to be made beforehand and cooled down in the fridge for a couple of hours, the profiteroles can also be made ahead, and then it’s only assembly and melting chocolate.

One thing that’s a real shame about making this pastry cream is that we don’t have heavy cream here in Germany. Ours has about 36 % fat at the most, otherwise there’s only crème double which unfortunately I didn’t have at home and you can’t buy everywhere. The solution for me here was to use less than 50 % cream when mixing it with the pastry cream.

These profiteroles were absolutely delicious and hit the spot – quite a perfect substitute for a Boston cream donut!

By the way, the pastry cream (without mixing it with whipping cream) can be used as a tart filling, and the amount in the recipe fills two small tarts.

As for the preparation, I find the easiest work flow is to make the pastry cream, then make the profiteroles while the pastry cream cools down. Chocolate melting can be done before filling the profiteroles.

Profiteroles

  • Servings: 16 - 20
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Pastry Cream
300 ml milk
50 g caster sugar
3 egg yolks
20 g plain flour
10 g cornflour
½ vanilla pod

In a heavy-based pan, warm the milk and the scraped-out vanilla seeds [do not boil, just warm!].

Whisk egg yolk and sugar in a bowl until well combined, then add the flour and cornflour and mix well again. Pour the warm milk over the egg mixture, whisk well, then return everything to a clean pot.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn heat to medium and stir constantly [I used a whisk first and then a spatula] until it’s very thick. Pour into a container, put clingfilm directly on top of the pastry cream to prevent it building a skin, and refrigerate for about 2 hours until cooled.

[When using the pastry cream as a tart filling, whisk it well until smooth before pouring it into the tart shells.]

Profiteroles – Choux Pastry
150 ml water
65 g plain flour, sieved
50 g unsalted butter
2 eggs, beaten
pinch each of salt and sugar

Bring water, sugar, salt and butter to the boil. As soon as it boils, remove from heat and add the flour. Stir vigorously for about 15 seconds until the mixture forms into a smooth ball and comes away easily from the edges of the pot.

Place the dough ball on a plate and spread it thinly to allow it to cool down to lukewarm. This will only take about 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 200°C/390°F.

Scrape the dough back into the pot and add the eggs a little at a time, beating well in-between, until you get a smooth and glossy consistency. [Adding too much egg at a time can make the mixture curdle, adding too much in total will make the mixture spread out in the oven instead of rise.]

Place teaspoon sized portions of the dough onto a baking sheet, or pipe it, then bake in a hot oven at 200°C/390°F for approx. 20 minutes until crisp and hollow. As soon as the pastry comes out of the oven, pierce each profiterole with a skewer to let the steam escape, then let cool down. [For a piercing location I tend to choose the side, this will then be the entry point later where I pipe in the pastry cream.]

Filling & Topping
50 % heavy or double cream
50 % pastry cream
chocolate of your choice

For the filling, semi-whip the double cream, then carefully fold it into the pastry cream, making sure not to over-whip. Place in a piping bag and pipe into the profiteroles.
[Note: For the 16 – 20 profiteroles you get out of the dough, I only mixed half the amount of pastry cream with cream, the rest will keep in the fridge for a few days.]

For the topping, melt some chocolate [over a bain-marie or in the microwave] and pour some over each profiterole. Let chocolate set and cool before serving.

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