As a university student in Aix-En-Provence, I used to order profiteroles every time I went to one of the posh cafes on the Cours Mirabeau. I went back there a few summers ago with my daughters and ordered the same thing – they were hooked! I get a plea at least once a month to make these. They are time consuming to make but so so worth it – not least to see the look of wonder on their little faces!
I’ve used the choux pastry recipe from The Great British Bake Off Book below but explained the method in my words. It only uses water in the mixture whereas I’ve always used one with milk. I have to admit, these were crispier than I have ever made them before. I used a rose pastry cream to fill the choux buns in the recipe below and piled them up using caramel – a mini croquembouche!
For the choux pastry
- 175ml water
- 75g unsalted butter
- 3 eggs (at room temperature)
- 100g plain flour
- Quarter tsp of salt
For the pastry cream
- 250ml whole milk
- 3 large egg yolks
- 50g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 150ml double or whipping cream
- 2 tbsp rose syrup
For the caramel
- 200g granulated sugar
- A KitchenAid mixer with a whisk and paddle attachment
- 3 baking trays lined with greaseproof paper
- Piping bag fitted with a 1 cm nozzle and another with a 0.5cm nozzle
- A Japanese chopstick (ie one with the pointy tip)
- 2 wire cooling racks
To make them
- Sift the flour and salt into a bowl or sheet of paper.
- Heat the water and butter gently until the butter has melted.
- When the butter has completely melted, bring the mixture to the boil and then quickly add the flour.
- Take the pan off the heat and beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until you get a dough with no lumps that slightly comes away from the sides.
- Return the pan to the heat and cook out the dough while beating for 1 and a half minutes. This seems like such a long time but it does get glossier and smooth and comes away from the sides.
- Plonk the dough into a bowl and leave this to cool until it’s lukewarm to touch. This is about 20 minutes.
- While it is cooling start the pastry cream.
- Whip the double or whipping cream, scrape into a bowl and put it in the fridge.
- Beat the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar in a heatproof bowl until it’s a light colour and well combined. You don’t need to do this in a mixer. A wooden spoon and elbow grease for about 10 minutes should be fine.
- Heat the milk until it’s just boiling and pour a little into the egg, sugar and cornflour mixture. Stir and pour in the rest and when it’s all combined, pour it back into the saucepan.
- On a gentle heat, keep whisking until the mixture thickens and turns into a smooth custard consistency.
- Pour it into another bowl and cover with clingfilm immediately to prevent a skin forming. Leave this to cool to room temperature and then put it in the fridge to chill.
- Put the oven on to 200C.
- Now back to the profiteroles. Beat the 3 eggs in a jug.
- Pop the dough into the KitchenAid with a paddle attachment. Give it a little mix on setting 2 and then add a little beaten egg. Continue mixing until all the egg has been combined.
- Repeat this step adding a little beaten egg at a time until you get a dough which is stiff enough to pipe. It plops reluctantly from a spoon. I had a little beaten egg left.
- Spoon the choux mix into the piping bag and pipe blobs which are around 2cm wide x 2cm high. Make sure you allow space for them to spread and rise.
- Put them into the oven and bake them for 15 minutes,
- Open the door at this point to get rid of some steam, turn the oven down to 180C and carry on baking for another 10 minutes until they are golden and crisp to touch.
- Take the out of the oven, puncture the bases with the chopstick to make a small hole for the steam to escape. I ask The Hubby to help at this stage – the quicker you get this part done the less likely they are to get soggy.
- Put them all back in the oven for another 5 minutes with the steam hole facing upwards.
- Take them out of the oven again and put them on a wire rack immediately to cool completely.
- When they have completely cooled down, finish off the pastry cream.
- Add the rose syrup to the custard and then fold in the whipped cream a little at a time until it is all combined.
- Spoon this into a piping bag with the 0.5cm nozzle and fill the profiteroles through the steam hole.
- Pile the profiteroles onto a plate and drizzle with melted chocolate. Or as I have done in the picture, pile them into a tower/ tall cone shape using caramel.
- Caramel – melt the sugar to a golden colour in a small pan. It will be super, super hot so use tongs to dip the profiteroles and stack them to prevent burning your hands.
- Drizzle sugar onto the profiteroles and decorate as you wish!