A 'Better Late Than Never' tribute to Julia Childs. Ever since the movie Julie and Julia came out last summer, I've wanted to try one of her French classic recipes.
About a month ago, I saw an old episode of "Jacques and Julia Cooking at Home" on television in which they made two beautiful desserts, one of which was profiteroles with ice cream and chocolate sauce.
I have always had an affection for pate au choux since it's one of the first things I learned how to make when I started to enjoy experimenting with cooking at around 12-13 years old. One of my other first attempts at cooking was making fudge. My version of ice cream profiteroles combines similar flavors :)
Profiterole is the name for the small puffs used to fill with ice cream. Choux, meaning 'cabbage' in French, is the name for the larger puffs used to fill with whipped cream or creme Chantilly. Profiteroles can be used to fill with many sorts of savory fillings for appetizers as well.
The chocolate sauce recipe adapted from the same cookbook was also amazing! The profiteroles can be baked ahead, filled with ice cream and frozen until ready to use.
For my profiteroles, I used dark chocolate ice cream but vanilla is the standard. Is your mouth watering yet? Are you thinking of your favorite ice cream as a filling? Here is the recipe:
Profileroles with Ice Cream
Adapted from Julia and Jacques - Cooking at Home
Pâte à choux
Makes about 40 small or 20 large puffs
1/2 cup water*
1/2 cup milk*
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup unsifted flour
5 large eggs (4 for the choux and 1 reserved for the egg wash)
*Julia's recipe calls for all milk, other traditional recipes call for all water. I found 1/2 of each just right.
Preheat the oven to 375F and adjust racks to fit two baking sheets.
In a saucepan, add the water, milk, butter, salt, and sugar and place over high heat and stir as the butter melts. Bring to a boil and immediately remove the pan from the heat and add the flour all at once. Stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until the flour is incorporated and forms a paste.
Place the pan over medium heat and stir vigorously. The dough will leave the sides of the pan and gather into a soft lump. Continue stirring the dough in the pan to dry it slightly, for a minute or so, until a white skin forms on the bottom of the saucepan.
Remove from the heat and scrape the lump of dough into the bowl of a food processor. Allow it to cool for about 5 minutes, so the eggs do not cook when added. Meanwhile, break 4 of the eggs into a measuring cup or bowl and crack the fifth egg into a separate small bowl. Pulse the dough in the food processor a few times to break up the lump. Then, add 1 of the eggs and process for about 5 seconds. Repeat with the remaining 3 eggs, processing for a few seconds after each egg is added. It will only take about 30 seconds to process all 4 eggs. The dough should have a soft paste consistency. (Alternatively, this step can done in the pan the choux was cooked in, adding the eggs one at a time and stirring with the wooden spoon to incorporate fully.)
Line the cookie sheet (or 2 sheets if you are making small puffs) with parchment paper or silicon liner. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the dough. Or, you can use a plastic storage bag with a tiny corner snipped off with a scissors. Pipe about 1-4 tablespoons of pastry onto the cookie sheets, depending on how large or small you choose to make your puffs, leaving about 1-1/2 inch space between each puff.
Remove a little of the white from the reserved egg and beat lightly. Lightly brush the top of each puff with the egg wash.
Place the sheets in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes for little profiteroles or 40-45 minutes for larger ones. The puffs should be a deep golden brown all over when they are done.
When the puffs appear done, turn off the oven and prop the oven door open about 2 inches with an oven mitt. Allow the puffs to dry out in the oven for 30 minutes or so before removing. Cool completed before using or storing.
When cool, baked puffs can be stored for a couple of days in a closed plastic container or frozen for several weeks in airtight containers or freezer bags.
Chocolate Sauce for Ice Cream Profiteroles
Makes about 2 cups
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
6 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup strong espresso or 1 tsp instant espresso powder mixed with a little warm water
Vanilla extract, rum, cognac or bourbon, optional
In a small saucepan, heat the cream to a bare simmer. Add the chocolate and espresso into the hot cream and whisk until smooth. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or other optional flavoring.
Cool before using.
Store covered in the refrigerator.