I made profiteroles for the first time a few days ago and here they are! The orange chocolate ice cream filling was actually an afterthought when I realised that the crème patisserie (pastry cream) was going to need three hours to chill.
I simply couldn't wait that long and luckily I had the ice cream sitting in my freezer. It was meant to be and it was perfect match. I've been meaning to make mini ice-cream sandwiches for a while using brioche and vanilla ice cream but these profiteroles were an excellent substitute.
The recipe I used for the choux pastry was from epicurious and like the reviews said, it was easy and they turned out perfectly. However, I wasn't so sure at the start if things were going well as the choux looked too runny and I wasn't sure how they were going to puff up, if at all. I used a pastry bag to squeeze out 'tall rounds' and as soon as I squeezed them out they promptly deflated and spread out. Not a good start.
Round two. I grumpily scooped all the miserable little chouxs back into a metal bowl and then put the bowl by the window to cool down. Incidentally, I'm in Vancouver where it's meant to be the start of summer and it's 10 degrees. So I cooled the choux for about 15 minutes and let it firm up a bit and then spooned it back into the pastry bag and gave it another go.
The 'tall rounds' weren't exactly skyscrapers but they were keeping their tallish roundish shapes so I whisked them into the oven and then magically before my eager eyes, they rose.
I read an interesting piece from The Oxford Companion to Food about the origins of the word 'petits choux'. It states that it has nothing to do with the pastry resembling a small cabbage but was a street cry in 16th century France that went 'Choux, petits choux, tout chauds'. It goes on to partially cite a definition for petits choux from Randle Cotgraves 1611 Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues.
Please check out the definition link. Someone has laboriously scanned this ancient dictionary which, when describing petits choux says: "There be two kinds of them; one round, and plumpe like an apple..." (sic).
Interestingly, the same dictionary defines 'profiterole' in the following way: "Profiterolle be the small vayles, as drinking money, points, pinnes, &c, gotten by a valet or groome in his masters service" (sic).
After lengthy consideration, my best guess is that profiterole historically referred to a gratuity or tip. The definition refers to "drinking money"; in modern French, a tip is still called "pourboire" - literally "for drinks".
There is also an entry for "pourfiterolle" which is defined as "a cake baked under hot imbers" (sic) meaning 'embers'.
Now... the recipe!
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
Ice-cream to serve such as dark orange chocolate, coffee, pistachio or banana
1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate
1/8 cup of thick cream
- Bring 1 cup water and butter to boil in heavy medium saucepan.
- Reduce heat to low; add flour and salt.
- Stir until mixture is smooth and pulls away from sides of pan, forming ball, about 1 minute. Transfer to large bowl.
- Using handheld mixer, beat in eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition.
- Cover dough loosely with plastic. Let stand until cool, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets.
- Spoon dough into pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch plain tip.
- Pipe 1-inch tall rounds on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart.
- Bake until golden brown and puffed, about 20 minutes.
- Remove puffs from oven; turn off heat. Pierce side of each puff with tip of small knife. Return puffs to oven; let stand 10 minutes with door ajar. Remove from oven and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)
- When ready to serve, heat the semi-sweet chocolate in a bain-marie. Stir is constantly and then slowly add the cream all the while stirring. Mix cream and chocolate until smooth.
- Gently open the profiteroles and then spoon in the ice cream. Serve on a plate and drizzle with chocolate sauce.