Several years ago, I did a post on Profiteroles which has turned out to be my most popular post. I guess I’m not the only person who loves these delicate cream puffs, topped with a lovely chocolate sauce. Thousands of people seem to be surfing the net, searching for a good Profiterole recipe.
Because I’ve gotten quite a lot of feedback and questions regarding my recipe, I thought I’d share them with you and offer some ‘tips and traps.’ The feedback from my beloved readers has ranged from comments such as “my profiteroles turned out so hard I could have bounced them off the wall” to a an admission that one reader had used tequila instead of vanilla flavoring for the custard cream. I would have liked to taste that one!
Here is the profiterole photo from my original post of July 2013:
Here are some of the comments I’ve received, plus my suggestions for overcoming any problems (see below for the original printable recipe):
” The dough for my choux pastry was too runny, like pancake mix- they went ‘splat’ when I spooned them onto the baking tray!”
Try using less eggs for the choux pastry dough. The recipe calls for 3-4 large eggs. Start by beating in one egg at a time and then stop and re-evaluate after beating in the third egg. If the dough is smooth and elastic and falls easily off of your spoon or spatula, then you don’t need to add the fourth egg. If your dough is still a bit stiff, then add another 1/2 egg or 1 full egg. It all depends on the size of your eggs; if you add four jumbo eggs at once, then your dough will probably turn out too runny, like pancake mix. The trick is to stop and re-evaluate after adding the first three eggs.
The choux pastry dough should be smooth and elastic, not runny.
” My puff balls weren’t crisp on the outside when I took them out of the oven and then deflated quickly.”
The trick to getting crisp puff balls is to first bake them in the oven at a high temperature of 425 F for the first 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375 F for the remaining 10-15 minutes. I use an oven thermometer to ensure my oven has reached 425 F before putting the puff balls in the oven. If it looks like your buns are browning to fast, then reduce the oven temperature sooner. If using a convection oven (fan-forced), then reduce your oven temperatures by 20 degrees (for 425 F reduce your temperature to 405 F, etc.).
If you follow this method of first baking at a high temperature, then your profiterole buns should not deflate soon after removing them from the oven. Store in an air-tight container if not serving right away.
The puff balls should be crisp on the outside when finished baking
” My custard cream filling was too thick, like a paste.”
Try using less flour for the custard cream. The recipe calls for adding 1/3 cup flour to 3 egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar, so try reducing the amount to say 1/4 cup flour. Also, you should gradually add small amounts of the egg/flour/sugar mixture to the milk/cream so that it gradually thickens. The custard should be able to still pour easily after it’s cooked, but not be too runny.
The custard should still be able to pour easily; if too thick, add a bit more milk or cream.
“My chocolate sauce seized up – became hard and grainy, instead of smooth.”
If your chocolate gets too hot, it may seize up and get hard. Make sure you heat the chocolate, butter and cream together over low heat, preferably placing the ingredients in a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water.
“My profiteroles turned out hard as rocks- I could have bounced them off the wall!”
The first time I made profiteroles, they were also as hard as rocks, but the second time I made them, they came out perfect. Try making them again!
“My custard cream tasted too much like eggs!”
Sorry, nothing I can do about that. Since the custard is made of egg yolks, they are bound to taste like eggs! (But I guess you could try adding more vanilla flavoring to mask the egg taste).
- !For the Choux Pastry
- 250 ml (1 cup) water
- ⅓ cup (6 tbsp.) butter, cubed
- 150 g (1 cup) plain flour, sifted
- pinch salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 3 – 4 large eggs
- 250 ml (1 cup) milk
- 175 ml (3/4 cup) heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla favoring
- 3 egg yolks
- 75 g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
- 50 g (1/3 cup) flour
- For the Chocolate Sauce
- 113 g (3/4 cup) dark baking chocolate
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 65 ml (1/4 cup) thickened cream
- 2 tbs. sugar
- Pre-heat oven to 425 F. (220 C.)
- Combine water and butter in a saucepan and bring just to the boil.
- Remove pan from the heat. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt and sugar. In one go, add these dry ingredients to the water/butter mixture.
- Over medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a dough and falls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Beginning with three eggs, beat in one egg at a time, stirring in each egg until the dough mixture is smooth and the egg is fully incorporated. After the third egg, the dough should be elastic and fall easily away from your spoon or spatula. If the dough is still a bit stiff, then add another ½ egg or another full egg until the dough reaches the right consistency; the dough should not be ‘runny’ like pancake batter but smooth and elastic.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Using a piping bag with a large tipped nozzle, pipe balls of dough onto the tray (spaced at least 2 inches apart), using about 2 tbsp. of dough for each ball. Pipe in concentric circles starting from the center and working outwards.
- Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 425 F (220 C), then lower the temperature to 375 F. (190 C.) for the remaining 10-15 minutes. The pastry balls will be done when they puff up and become golden. Each ball should feel light and airy.
- Turn off oven and remove the tray from the oven; slit a small hole in the base of each pastry ball to release any steam. Return the tray to the oven for another few minutes to dry out the insides of the pastry puffs.
- Warm the milk, cream and vanilla flavouring together over medium heat- do not boil.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks for at least 30 seconds until the mixture becomes smooth and pale yellow in color, then add the flour.
- Over medium heat, gradually whisk in the egg/sugar mixture to the milk/cream mixture. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens- if the custard is so thick that it will not pour easily, then add a little more milk or cream. Place in the fridge until chilled; the custard will continue to thicken some as it chills.
- To fill each puff ball with custard, lift open the top of each pastry ball and fill with 1 -2 tbsp. of custard.
- Over low heat, melt together the chocolate and butter. Mix in the cream and sugar and stir until the sauce is thick and smooth.
- To serve, place one or two pastries on a plate and cover with chocolate sauce.