I'm not sure if it was the same in the States, but if you were around in the UK in the 70's and '80s, Every dinner party ended in the same sweet way, with a bowl of cream-filled profiteroles, dripping in warm chocolate sauce. Given that the preceding courses were probably salmon mousse or prawn cocktail, followed by duck a l'orange and pommes Anna, this was a good way to end things on a slightly lighter note.
One other brilliant thing about profiteroles, is that while they're beautiful and rather impressive, they're super, super easy to make and you can do much of the work ahead of time.
I used Delia's choux pastry recipe, which works really well, so I've copied it below but with a couple of revisions . Delia spoons the mixture onto the baking sheets, which produces a nice enough result, but I like to use a piping bag, as it gives a more uniform product and it's easier to control the size. I pipe little dollops about the size of a 50p/50 cent piece, the shape of Hershey kisses. They round off in the oven and grow a little larger than a golf ball.
Profiteroles With Dark Chocolate Sauce
serves 6, takes appox 1 hour
1. Choux pastry i
2. To make about 30 choux buns you will need 2½ oz (60 g) of strong plain flour, which, with its higher gluten content, gives crisper results than ordinary soft, plain flour. As you are going to need to 'shoot' it quickly into the water and melted butter, fold a sheet of silicon paper (
3. Next, put 5 fl oz (150 ml) of cold water in a medium-sized saucepan together with 2 oz (50 g) of butter, cut into small pieces, then place the saucepan over a moderate heat and stir with a wooden spoon. As soon as the butter has melted and the mixture comes up to the boil, turn off the heat immediately, as too much boiling will evaporate some of the water.
4. Then tip the flour in – all in one go – with one hand, while you beat the mixture vigorously with the other. You can do this with a wooden spoon, though an electric hand whisk will save you lots of energy.
5. Beat until you have a smooth ball of paste that has left the sides of the saucepan clean – this will probably take less than a minute.
6. Next beat 2 large eggs well, then beat them into the mixture – a little at a time, mixing each addition in thoroughly before adding the next.
7. Beat until you have a smooth glossy paste. At this stage, lightly grease a baking sheet then hold it under cold running water for a few seconds, and tap it sharply to get rid of excess moisture. This will help create a steamier atmosphere, which, in turn, helps the pastry to rise.
8. To make the choux buns, place teaspoons of the mixture on the baking sheet, leaving 1 inch (2.5 cm) between them, then bake on a high shelf in a pre-heated oven – gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C) – for 10 minutes. After that, increase the heat to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C), and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until the buns are crisp, light and a rich golden colour.
For the Cream filling, you'll need:
450ml (1 pint) very cold double (heavy whipping) cream
3 tbsp caster sugar
For the chocolate sauce:
200g (7 oz) good quality dark chocolate (I used Green and Black's 85%)
200ml (7 fl. oz) double (heavy whipping) cream
3 tbsp caster sugar
Put your chocolate, cream and sugar together in a bowl or bain marie (double boiler) over a pan of barely simmering water, taking care not to let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.
Stir from time to time for a few minutes as the chocolate melts, until you have a smooth, shiny sauce with a thick but pourable consistency. If you feel that the sauce is a little thick, stir through a little more cream.
While your chocolate sauce is getting going, put the cold whipping cream and sugar together in the bowl. Use your mixer on a slow speed to start with, to begin to thicken the cream and dissolve the sugar. After a minute or two, increase the speed to a medium-high and continue to whisk for several minutes, until you have stiff but not grainy peaks.
Spoon the whipped cream into a piping bag with a 30 or similar tip. It really doesn't matter, since all you're doing is filling the puffs.
Poke the piping tip into the hole of each puff, filling entirely with the whipped cream. To do all 30 should take about 4-5 minutes.
Serve the choux buns, hole-down in a bowl and pour over plenty of the dark chocolate sauce.
They're also fantastic with chopped, toasted hazelnuts or almonds sprinkled over the top.