In last night’s French Cooking Class, what started and ended the class was the Profiterole. Once everyone got settled in, we began making the pate choux dough. I think if I was ambidexterous, and if I chose to make pate choux every day for about 10 years, I might have some really good looking upper arms. Stir, stir, stir
When my guests left, and my daughter (aka, the dishwasher) made her way home, I was left to indulge in what I decided was the ultimate ice cream sandwich.
A profiterole is the shell of a cream puff – pate choux dough, filled with ice cream. From there, use your imagination. Any ice cream, gelato, etc. A dusting of powdered sugar, perhaps. Chocolate Ganache – YES! The iterations are limitless. Coffee ice cream and Ganache. Butter Pecan ice cream and Caramel, oh, yeah. Add some grilled peaches? Oh, my!
So easy is the Pate Choux dough that I believe making it should be a lesson right after scratch brownies and before a basic cake in what a home chef passes along to every man, woman and child they come in contact with. A slightly passionate statement - maybe.
But Pate Choux is not just for desserts. Skip the sugar and these vessels are perfect little puffs for chicken salad at a party. Stir in some gruyere cheese and chives and you have Gougeres – airy little appetizers wonderful with bubbly. Use a larger puff and fill it with chicken pot pie filling or beef stew.
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Another great thing about Pate Choux – make them ahead and freeze. Last minute appetizer, main dish or dessert when your thinking and working in advance.
Let’s break it down:
Pate Choux Dough
- 1 cup of unbleached, all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbls sugar (if the product is being used for sweet applications)
- 1 cup of milk
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- 4 whole eggs – must be at room temperature
Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar. Bring the milk and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once the milk boils, dump the flour mixture, all at once into the milk. Stir, stir, stir! Cook for 1 – 2 more minutes, while stirring constantly. The dough will form and pull away from the sides of the pan and the wooden spoon that you’re using. Remove from the heat. you’ll see a film of cooked crust on the bottom of the pan. Allow the dough to cool slightly while you make yourself busy doing something else – 5 minutes or so.
Best to have a strong partner at this point. Add an egg to the dough and stir, stir, stir. You need to be sure that the egg is completely integrated into the dough before you add another egg; stir, stir, stir. Repeat until the four eggs are incorporated.
Shovel the dough into a large pastry bag with a plain, round tip. If you don’t have one of these, use a heavy duty ziplock bag with a corner snipped off. The opening should be about 3/4 of an inch in diameter.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pre-heat your oven to 400.
Pipe the dough into twelve to 15 rounds. Try to get them as even as possible. Use a slightly wet finger tip to press down any points on the rounds so they don’t burn while baking.
Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so the puffs bake evenly. Bake an additonal 15-20 minutes until a medium golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Carefully pull the top back, or slice them open. Pull out any doughy center and return to the oven to dry the interior out a bit. Just a few minutes should do it.
This step isn’t completely necessary, but it can eliminate that ‘eggy’ taste, which some people find objectionably.
Once completely cool, fill with ice cream and serve with chocolate ganache or your favorite ice cream sauce. A dusting of powdered sugar and a sprig of mint completes the plate scape.