We’re going to make profiteroles (AKA cream puffs) for Valentine’s Day, ok? They’re French, so you know this recipe will impress your Valentine. If there’s one thing men like it is delicious things stuffed inside other delicious things with delicious sauce on top. You can trust a woman who is getting married in 16 days. Six.teen!
Profiteroles are made with the French dough, pate a choux. It’s the same dough used for eclairs, because as it bakes, the water in the dough evaporates and leaves a hollow center inside the pastry. You can stuff them with custards, whipped cream, or fruit sorbets. If you have leftover sorbet from my Champagne Sundaes, use it for this recipe. I also think chocolate whipped cream would be great with a fresh raspberry sauce. Or, this vanilla custard with Frangelico. Or whiskey-ed cherries. Or this butter whiskey sauce. Or anything else your little heart desires.
Cream puffs are a romantic dessert for Valentine’s Day because you can feed each other these little bites between sips of bubbly. (Did you see my post on champagne tips)?
The process of making the dough feels odd. It goes against everything you would think about a light and fluffy pastry. The first step is melting the butter in water over low heat. It’s important to prevent the water from boiling because then it will evaporate and alter the liquid ratio in the dough. Next, flour is added directly to the butter and water mixture. Weird, right? Finally, you whip the dough to cool it off before adding the egg, pipe it onto a baking sheet, and bake. You’ll squeal with delight when you cut them open and find a hollow shell.
Now, go on! Bake delicious things to stuff inside other delicious things with delicious sauce on top. Your Valentine will thank you for it.
Profiteroles with Raspberry Sorbet and Chocolate Sauce
1/2 cup fruit sorbet of your choice (I used raspberry)
2 ounces dark chocolate
1 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a small saucepan, stir together the water and butter over low heat. Let the butter gently melt without bringing the water to a boil.
Remove the water-butter mixture from heat, and add the flour, sugar and salt mixture all at once. Stir, stir stir. Put it back on the burner that's been turned off and stir until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. In other words, the dough will stick together in one big clump around the spoon and not the edges of the pan. It happens in about 1 minute.
Scrape the dough into a mixing bowl, and beat on low speed with an electric mixture until the mixture is only warm to the touch (about 1-2 minutes). Add the egg and continue beating. Beat for a few minutes, until the dough falls off the beaters in sheets and is pale yellow.
Scrape the mixture into a piping bags (or use two spoons) do pipe 6 or 7 little mounds of dough. To get the most rise out of your dough, layer it: make a flat disk, then top it with another disk of dough.
Bake for 15 minutes, then open the oven to rotate the sheet pan. Turn the oven down to 350 and bake for 30-33 minutes. Don't be afraid of a little color on your cream puffs. If you under bake, the insides won't be as hollow.
When the time is up, turn off the oven and leave the door cracked open. Let the shells cool slowly in the oven. If you cut into them while they're still warm, they won't be as hollow. They should almost dry out.
Meanwhile, make the chocolate sauce: melt the chocolate with the coconut oil or shortening in the microwave in 20-second pulses. Stir between each pulse until chocolate is smooth and shiny. Let cool slightly.
Before serving, slice each puff in half. Fill with a tiny scoop of fruit sorbet. Drizzle chocolate on top and serve.
Christina Lane is the author of 3 cookbooks all about cooking and baking for two. She has scaled down hundreds of recipes into smaller servings so you can enjoy your favorite dishes without the leftovers! Valentine's Day is her favorite holiday.