Gourmet (March 2008)
These profiteroles made a finale délicieux for our recent French bistro meal.
We're big fans of the Barefoot Contessa, so we already knew the dark secret about profiteroles: They're really impressive, but they're actually relatively easy to make. At least twice now, we've seen the episode where Contessy makes them for Jeffrey while recreating dishes from their Parisian vacation. Contessy makes cooking many of her dishes look so effortless that it's easy to see her make something like profiteroles and then finish the episode thinking, "I could do that -- and be friends with every gay in East Hampton, too!"
The profiteroles are on on this month's Gourmet cover, being drenched in a chocolate sauce. It's saliva-inducing! They're gorgeous and both elegant and messy, making them the perfect dessert for our bistro dinner.
The dough was a cinch to make - easy and quick. We don't own a pastry bag, so we improvised one "Food Network-style" using a quart size Ziploc, which seemed to work just fine. The profiteroles came out of the oven looking perfect.
Our only regret in this recipe is that we did not make the coffee ice cream ourselves, even though the recipe calls for store-bought ice cream. After purchasing an ice-cream maker last summer, we've learned to make several excellent flavors. For this meal, though, the core was not in the freezer, so we heeded the recipe and purchased the ice cream.
The recipe's tip to pre-scoop the ice cream and freeze the scoops on a sheet to cut down on the serving time is an excellent suggestion and did indeed make the serving easy. Drizzled in the chocolate sauce, the resulting dessert is a knock-out. Make profiteroles the next time you want to impress someone.
Profiteroles With Coffee Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce
Gourmet (March 2008)
Active Time: 45 min
Start to Finish: 1 1/4 hr
Leave it to the French to come up with the classiest way of doing an ice cream sundae. Hide the grown-up coffee ice cream inside a crisp puff of pastry (the same dough that cream puffs are made from), then drizzle it with full-bodied chocolate sauce.
1 qt coffee ice cream
3/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
For chocolate sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy (optional)
A small (about 1 1/2-inch) ice cream scoop; a large pastry bag fitted with a 3/4-inch plain tip
Chill a small metal baking pan in freezer. Form 18 ice cream balls with scoop and freeze in chilled pan at least 1 hour (this will make serving faster). Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. Butter a large baking sheet. Bring butter, water, and salt to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until butter is melted. Reduce heat to medium, then add flour all at once and cook, beating with a wooden spoon, until mixture pulls away from side of pan and forms a ball, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cool slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well with an electric mixer after each addition. Transfer warm mixture to pastry bag and pipe 18 mounds (about 1 1/4 inches wide and 1 inch high) 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes total. Prick each profiterole once with a skewer, then return to oven to dry, propping oven door slightly ajar, 3 minutes. Cool on sheet on a rack.
Make chocolate sauce:
Heat sugar in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling pan occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is dark amber. Remove from heat, then add cream and a pinch of salt (mixture will bubble and steam). Return to heat and cook, stirring, until caramel has dissolved. Remove from heat and add chocolate, whisking until melted, then whisk in vanilla and Cognac (if using). Keep warm, covered.
Halve profiteroles horizontally, then fill each with a ball of ice cream. Put 3 profiteroles on each plate and drizzle generously with warm chocolate sauce.
Ice cream balls can be frozen up to 1 day (cover with plastic wrap after 1 hour).
Profiteroles can be baked 1 day ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Recrisp on a baking sheet in a 375°F oven 5 minutes. Cool before filling.