I have eaten a lot of profiteroles in my life but I remember one very memorable moment when I had this dessert.
The city was New York, the year: 2007. I was visiting with a friend and I had made a dinner reservation at Balthazar Restaurant. The meal and service were incredible and already a beautiful memory in themselves. I obviously had to order the profiteroles to finish my meal. When the dessert arrived, it was just the choux buns on a lovely little dessert plate and then... Then, a waiter arrived with a silver sauce boat on a plate and he carefully raised it to pour a luxurious dark chocolate sauce over the profiteroles in a dramatic way from a height. I am pretty sure I stopped breathing that whole time. Everybody sitting beside us stopped eating and stared at what was happening at our table. The lady sitting beside me looked at her husband and immediately said "I know what I'm having for dessert!". It turned out to be a really fantastic dessert of profiteroles.
I am sharing a recipe for this dessert a little further down past the animated GIF and more photos. I hope you try and make it because I love knowing other people also get to enjoy wonderful desserts.
Add the chocolate sauce on top of your profiteroles with a spoon or pour it from a height for dramatic chocolatey effect, eat them in an exquisite manner with a beautiful dessert spoon or grab a choux with your fingers and bite into it (the chocolate moustache is worth it). Whichever way you eat it, it will be delightful!
Ingredients (serve 6)
For the pastry cream
300ml full fat milk
1 vanilla bean
75g egg yolks (from approximately 4 eggs, depending on the size of your eggs)
75g caster sugar
30g corn flour
30g diced, softened unsalted butter
For the choux pastry (makes 24 medium size choux)
250ml cold water
75g diced unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing)
1/2 teaspoon salt
150g sifted plain flour
1 egg yolk (for brushing)
For the dark chocolate sauce
100g chopped dark chocolate
4 tablespoons hot water
Making the pastry cream (this can be done ahead of time the day before if needed):
1. Put the milk and vanilla bean (cut in half lengthwise) in a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook until it is almost boiling. Take off the heat, discard the vanilla bean, stir and set aside to cool down a bit.
2. Put the egg yolks, corn flour and sugar in a large baking bowl and whisk until the mixture is thick and pale.
Whisk in half of the warm milk and pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan. Put the saucepan over a low to medium heat and whisk until it boils and thickens.
3. At this stage, transfer the pastry cream into a large bowl. Put a piece of baking paper directly on the surface to avoid getting a skin on the pastry cream. Cool down for 5 minutes (or until it reaches 55ºC if you have a cooking thermometer).
4. When it has cooled down, add in the softened butter and stir well until it is well mixed together. Put the baking paper back on the surface and cool down completely before refrigerating. Keep in the fridge while making the choux pastry (the pastry cream can be made the day before).
Making the choux pastry (makes 24 medium size choux or plenty of mini ones):
1. Preheat the oven to 210ºC.
Pour the cold water in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the salt and diced butter. Slowly bring to the boil.
2. When the butter has completely melted, take the saucepan off the heat and pour in all the flour in one go. Using a wooden spoon, mix the ingredients vigourously.
Put the saucepan back over a low heat and continue mixing until the dough is dry enough to detach itself from the sides of the pan. Let it cool down for one minute.
3. Add the eggs one by one. Mix the dough thoroughly after each egg before adding the next one. The dough should be firm and supple at the same time.
4. Grease two large baking trays with a little bit of butter. Put the dough into a pastry bag and pipe 12 choux buns on each of the trays, leaving about 2 to 3cm between each choux as they will puff up.
Beat the egg yolk and brush it over the tops.
5. Place the trays on the top and middle shelf. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes. After 10 minutes, lower the heat to 180ºC and leave the oven door ajar (I do so by sticking a wooden spoon at the top to keep it open). The choux buns should be puffed and golden.
6. Place the choux buns over a wire rack and let them cool down.
Making the dark chocolate sauce:
1. Put the chopped dark chocolate in a small baking bowl.
2. Put the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering but not boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it stand for 5 minutes.
3. Stir the ganache and while still stirring, add the hot water one tablespoon at a time (it creates a lovely pouring chocolate sauce; if you prefer a thicker chocolate sauce, reduce the amount of hot water). Pour the sauce into a serving jug.
Assembling the profiteroles:
Put the pastry cream into a pastry bag with a small nozzle.
Make a small hole at the base of each choux bun using a sharp knife or a skewer. Pipe in some of the pastry cream into each of the profiteroles.
Serve 4 profiteroles per person (I put 3 at the base and one on top). Heat up the chocolate sauce lightly and pour it over the profiteroles.