Profiteroles, cream puffs, and eclairs are all made from the same thing. It’s called choux pastry (pronounced shoo). It is a batter made with butter, water, eggs, and flour. The water creates steam as they bake, which actually creates an airy hole in the center which, of course, we fill with all types of amazing goodness. The shell should be crisp and somewhat eggy tasting, the filling smooth and sweet, and the topping rich.
Eclairs are long and thin, cream puffs round and I believe profiteroles are usually slightly smaller and filled with ice cream or a frozen filling.
Though I initially figured this to be a “make ahead” dessert, serving from frozen, I realized that the pastry dough doesn’t freeze that well. When I make them again I will fill the just cooled puffs with ice cream and serve right away. When I gave my kids the “demo” (photographed above) profiterole they pretty much declared it the best thing they’ve ever eaten. This would be a show stopping dessert for entertaining.
1/2 c. unsalted butter
2 tsp. sugar
1 c. water
1 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 large eggs
Ice Cream (vanilla, coffee, and chocolate work great)
Sauce (either chocolate or caramel)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a large baking sheet with silpat or parchment.
2. In a saucepan, boil water and add butter and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until butter is melted and water is boiling vigorously.
3. Remove from heat; add flour and salt all at once; stir vigorously.
4. Stir the mixture until the dough is smooth and leaves the side of the pan, forming a ball, leaving a light film on the bottom of the pan. You will see almost no sign of steam.
5. Spread out dough in the pan to cool for about 10 minutes.
6. Using electric mixer, beat in one egg at a time, beating well after the first before adding the next. Mixture will appear to separate into clumps…just continue beating until mixture is thick and smooth and slightly sticky.
7. Beat for an additional minute after the last egg is added or until the paste is smooth and shiny. Don’t over beat.
8. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Place them 2 to 3 inches apart. Shape them high and smooth any peaks down with a moistened finger.
9. Don’t open the door while cooking. Bake for 30 minutes until the puffs are well risen, puffed and crisp. Remove the finished puffs from the oven; cut one or two small slits in each puff and let the steam escape. Let cool completely. If not serving immediately, keep completely air tight at room temperature. Before serving, return puffs to a 350 degree oven for about five minutes or until crisp.
10. Using slit that was already cut, pull top up and insert icecream into each puff.
14. Warm chocolate, caramel, or any other sauce, and spoon over top.
15. Serve immediately.