Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I made profiteroles on Oscar night!

This past Sunday, I cooked dinner for Lauren, Martha, and Morgan--pasta pesto, pasta vodka, an arugula salad with goat cheese and dried cherries--and decided the perfect dessert for such a fancy-shmancy night would be profiteroles (well, initially I thought just creme puffs, but I really got in the mood and decided to go all out). I made them with a classic creme puff batter, homemade vanilla ice cream, and a chocolate ganache sauce to top it all off. The results were deliiiiiiiicious.

Pastry Shells

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup water
1 cup flour (well sifted!)
4 extra large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, cook the butter and water together until the butter has dissolved. Let the water/butter come to a slight boil. Remove from heat.
3. Off the heat, add your flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a dough has formed (it will ball around the spoon fairly quickly).
4. Then, one at a time, add your eggs. After each egg, stir like the dickens! It will get harder and harder to stir as you add each egg, but don't give up! Keep at it, switch arms if you have to, because you need to whip in a lot of air. Once all the eggs are added and the batter pulls away from itself (you will hear sort of sighs of air as the batter separates with successive stirs), then it's about done. This entire process should take about six minutes or so.
5. On a very lightly buttered/sprayed baking sheet (there's so much butter in these already that you probably don't need more for the sheets but I do it just in case), use two spoons to place a nice sized ball onto the tray (think the size of an egg in its shell--with the spoons, it'll sort of resemble that oval shape too. You can also make these bigger if you'd like, they'll cook just the same.)
6. Let the pastry shells bake for about 20 minutes. Don't check them too soon because they might fall (which isn't a big deal - they are still really good, but might make you a little sad to see them flat instead of puffy). Once they are somewhere between golden and dark brown, shut the oven off.
7. Leave the puffs in there for about 5 minutes, then take out to cool. Make tiny slits in each puff so the steam escapes!
8. Once the puffs are cool, slice them almost entirely in half horizontally, scoop in some vanilla ice cream, and top with ganache and serve!

Vanilla Ice Cream
If you don't have an ice cream maker, just go to get some good vanilla ice cream. I did it myself just to show off.

2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 1/2 cups milk, chilled
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract (or an inch of vanilla bean, but who the hell wants to spend $7 on one bean!?)
sugar (I tend to use very little sugar, like less than 1/4 cup, but you can use up to 3/4 of a cup if you like your ice cream sweet)

Mix it all up, whisk until the sugar goes bye bye, and then throw it in your ice cream maker for 25 minutes!

Chocolate Ganache

8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (chips, bars, whatev)
1/4 cup of heavy cream

1. In a double boiler--like, an inch of boiling water in a saucepan with a glass bowl positioned over it--begin to melt the chocolate over low-medium heat.
2. Drizzle in the heavy cream.
3. Stir until it's all mixed and glossy and looks so amazing you want to bathe in it.
4. Take off the heat, and while stirring, drizzle generously over the ice cream-stuffed pastry shell.
5. Eat 'em.

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