Classic French Chocolate Profiteroles, my favorite dessert ever, is made of delicate chouquettes (puffs), filled with Chantilly cream, and topped with a luscious dark chocolate ganache, assembled in a mound. Today, the Eat the World train is stopping in France.
Song of the day: I Want a Little Sugar In My Bowl, Nina Simone.
If you ask me what dessert I associate with my birthday, it all comes down to two amazing European delights, both involving chocolate: the Austrian Sacher Torte, and the French Profiteroles.
Yes, you got that right, never in my birthdays I had (or wanted) a layered and frosted cake, but mainly, if there was ever a party (because most of the time I was traveling), it was one of these two cakes.
A classic chocolate Profiteroles is also the dessert I would choose to bring to a friend's house when invited for dinner, or for my brother's birthday if I was in charge of the cake. Always store-bought in one of the many pasticcerie in Rome, ordered to be made fresh, and a very popular choice. Store bought until today. And, although time-consuming and pretty laborious, it was an absolute pleasure to make and I am going to replicate it as much as I can.
Thanks to the wonderful group Eat the World and this month's recipe challenge. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to make since I heard that the next country for our challenge was the winner of the World Cup, France, precisely. Loreto had to step aside on this one, but he was pretty happy with my choice and couldn't wait to taste my dessert.
Many of you might call them cream puffs, but for me, they are and will always be the Classic French Profiteroles, which were introduced in France by the Italian Caterina de’ Medici, wife of Henry II of France, who brought from Tuscany several recipes and one of his chefs, the famous Popelini who, in 1540, invented the pate à choux (choux pastry) and this type of dessert, Profiteroles.
Last year I took a baking class on pate à choux at the famous Duchess Atélier here in Edmonton. I enjoyed every minute of it and it really helped me master this type of dough, which is a bit tricky, but nothing that isn't impossible to make.
Hope the following pictures of the preparation and the detailed recipe which follows will help you and inspire you to make choux pastry, that can be also used to make éclairs or the savory gougères, or the Italian Zeppole di San Giuseppe. All absolutely delicious, in my opinion.
Pate à choux
Pate à choux starts on the stove, with milk, water, butter, salt and sugar melting, then you add the flour and mix vigorously with a flat wooden spoon for about 4 minutes until it dries out a bit and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Then you transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer, where you add the eggs, one at a time, and you end up with a thick custard-like consistency.
Next step, you pipe the dough onto a parchment paper, in circles, then smoothen the tops with a mix of egg yolk/whipping cream, and bake in the oven where they puff up and turn a beautiful golden color. At this point, I am already envisioning my Profiteroles...
No, you're not done yet. There's the Chantilly cream to make, whipping the heavy cream with icing sugar and vanilla (bean or extract), and the chocolate to melt with dark chocolate (my choice), whipping cream, and a touch of honey.
The Classic French Chocolate Profiteroles is coming to life. You have filled the chouquettes with Chantilly cream, dipped the tops in chocolate, arranged them in a nice mound on a serving platter. Finish it off with few tufts of Chantilly cream here and there, always a nice touch.
Everybody has its own way of serving a Profiteroles. You can cut into it like a cake, or separate the chouquettes and plate them with some whipped cream on the side. Different are also the ways of eating a Profiteroles. Some use a fork and break into it, others grab it by hand and bite in, but my lovely husband pops the whole cream puff in his mouth, and I love to watch his face as it explodes in his mouth.
Because that is the pleasure of a Profiteroles, it combines a lovely delicate pastry, a rich dark chocolate coating, and a fabulously light and velvety cream all in one mouthful.
Song of the day: I Want a Little Sugar In My Bowl, Nina Simone.Print
Check out all the wonderful French dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
Camilla: Poulet à la Moutarde + Salade de Courgettes
Nicoletta and Loreto (us!): Classic French Chocolate Profiteroles
Claudia: Bifteck Hache a la Lyonnaise
Margaret: Axoa d’Espelette: a simple and tasty Basque stew
Wendy: Charlotte de Chou et de Pommes de Terre
Amy: Fougasse (Provençal Flat Bread)