I've got a big birthday this month. And while I don’t talk numbers, I do talk dessert. You see I don't love cake. Show me a cake that can compete with a profiterole – a hot and crunchy choux dough (the same used for éclairs) that sandwiches cold and smooth ice cream (preferably coffee.) This perfect package is then topped with hot fudge and candied almonds or pistachios. My preference for profiteroles over cake may have something to do with the fact that I have an ice cream problem and a thing for textured food, but most people will agree this is one classic that doesn't age.
Below is my go-to profiterole recipe, which I developed for Tasting Table in 2014.
Profiteroles with Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce
Makes roughly 30 profiteroles, Serves 10
For the Profiteroles
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 large egg white
Vanilla or coffee ice cream
Chocolate sauce (see recipe)
Caramelized almond slices (see below)
For the Caramelized Almond Slices
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Dash sea salt
1. Make the profiteroles: Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round tip.
2. Place the butter, milk, water, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the butter has melted. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, then remove from the heat. Add the flour all at once and stir quickly with a wooden spoon until a dough forms, about 30 seconds. Return the saucepan to medium heat and stir constantly to cook the flour, for about 3 minutes. (A film should form on the bottom of the pan.)
3. Transfer the dough to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix the dough for a few turns about every 30 seconds to release steam until the dough is slightly cooled, for about 4 minutes total.
4. With the mixer on low, add the eggs and egg white one at a time, making sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next. (The dough will separate each time an egg is added but it will come back together.)
5. Transfer the dough to the pastry bag. Pipe into 11/4-inch circles, 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Coat your finger with butter and dab each dough peak to smooth it out.
6. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat without opening the oven door to 375°F and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes more. Remove from the oven, set baking sheet on a cooling rack and quickly pierce the side of each puff with a paring knife to release steam. immediately cut the puffs horizontally in half. Let cool on the baking sheet. Once cool, puffs can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the freezer.
7. Caramelize the almonds: lightly toast the almonds in a large skillet over medium heat. Transfer to a baking sheet. Add the sugar to the skillet and, without stirring, melt it over medium-high heat (shaking the pan helps). Once the sugar is light brown, stir in the butter and a dash of salt. Gently stir in the almonds and cook until the caramel turns brown. Transfer to the baking sheet to cool. Season to taste with salt.
8. To serve: reheat puffs in a 300°F oven until warmed through. Fill a warm puff with a large scoop of ice cream. Top with chocolate sauce, and sprinkle with toasted almonds.
Hot Fudge Sauce
Makes about 3 cups
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cream, sugar, corn syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt.
2. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, whisking often to combine and help the sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate and butter pieces until melted. Serve warm.
3. Refrigerate excess sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks or freeze for longer.