A couple of months ago, I went on a quest to find an Eclair, or its younger, stubbier siblings – profiteroles on Zomato as our choice of dessert that evening. I don’t know if it was the diet that I was on, or if I just wasn’t interested in eating an Eclair that night, but I couldn’t find a single place delivering this cream filled dessert, so instead, we settled for tiny squares of Pineapple Pastry and Banana Bread.
I grew up with an unlimited sugar supply from the bakery of India International Center. There’s something about old school bakeries, the unapologetic thick layer of egg wash on every single thing – from bread sticks to hot cross buns accompanied by the intoxicating smell of fresh breads. I remember waiting outside the lounge and drooling at the sight of every single baked good on display by the stairs that led up to the Main Dining Room. The manager always recognised me (I am still the weirdo who asks for cheeni on the side with Indian food. More on this later, if at all :)) and helped me to my order of Eclairs. Many many years later, they did turn all posh and started offering Profiteroles with the most legendary vanilla ice cream in the Main Dining Hall – but it was the Eclairs, which were a cult classic.
I tried recreating that Eclair craving from a few months ago. Perhaps I tried recreating a childhood memory of comfort; when you didn’t have a watch reminding you that you’re behind on your workout today or when you didn’t have to back calculate every single calorie. Who am I?
The choux pasty recipe has been adapted from Dominique Ansel’s version. He’s one of my favourite pastry chefs and has recently released a book called ‘Everyone can bake’. Although the book is very informative about baking basics and techniques, I found it a little too simple for someone who bakes over the weekend not only to eat but also to improve her skill set. The choux pastry, once cooled completely, was filled with a lightly sweetened mascarpone cream and topped with a smear of dark chocolate.
For the uninitiated, Choux pastry is an enriched egg-based dough which is baked into, pardon my French, Golgappa like hollow rounds, and can be filled with anything from pastry cream to lemon curd. The next time I make this, I’m going to try making a lemon and coconut profiterole or raspberry cream cheese or tiramisu or maybe even a savoury one with ghee roast chicken.
This recipe is pretty foolproof, but read it thoroughly and don’t miss the important tips. The pastry was hollow from the inside and airy. Crisp on the outside with a good bite to it, if you know what I mean? The mascarpone cream is what my British dream of clotted cream is made of. The dark chocolate well, is classic. I wouldn’t recommend Milk because it’s too sweet and also because man you want dark chocolate. Milk chocolate is for Lays Magic Masala (yes).
To make the Profiteroles, here’s what you need:
Choux Pastry (Makes 25)
70g Whole Milk
75g Butter (I use salted)
2gm Salt (About 1/2 Teaspoon, add this only if you’re using unsalted butter, else leave it out)
3gm Sugar (Heaped 1/2 Teaspoon will work)
3-4 Eggs (about 150g, whisked)
1 Egg + 1 Tbsp Cream for an Egg Wash
200g Mascarpone Cheese
200g Heavy Whipping Cream (chilled thoroughly)
2 Tbsp Icing Sugar
Dark Chocolate Ganache
75g Dark Chocolate (chopped)
50g Heavy Cream
You’ll also need a piping bag to pipe the dough rounds. You’ll need a whisk and a large bowl to combine the eggs with the dough. You’ll also need a lot of arm strength if you don’t have a hand / stand mixer (But hey, if Gordon Ramsay can do it, you can do it!). Yeah I think that’s about it. Easy right? Whisk you’ll have, and you can literally make a piping bag out of Ziplock. No excuses.
Here’s what you need to do:
For the Choux Pastry
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, top and bottom heating on. Line a baking tray with parchment. You want to pipe the choux pastry in 4cm wide rounds and about 3 cm apart. Draw circles if you’re OCD about these things.
In a saucepan, place water, milk, butter, sugar and salt (again, only if you’re using unsalted butter) and bring to a light simmer over medium heat. Once the mix begins to boil, tumble in the flour and stir with a spatula. The idea here is to cook out the flour and some of the moisture from the dough. As you stir, you’ll notice theres a film of dough beginning to form at the bottom of the pan. That’s a good thing. You want to stir until there is an even film at the bottom of the pan (Not burnt!, keep the heat on medium low). This entire process should take 5 minutes. The step by step pictures are on my Instagram highlights (@ananyagee). Take it off the heat.
Now dump your dough in a bowl (of your stand mixer if you have it). Whisk on low speed for 5 mins till some of the steam escapes for the hot mass of cooked out flour. Begin to add the eggs, one at a time. You want to make sure the eggs are fully incorporated after every addition. So only add the next egg once you’re ready.
You’ll add 150 grams of eggs (3 to 4 eggs). The outside of the bowl should be hot to the touch, but bearable. Once the dough comes together fully (if you lift a blob of dough with your whisk, it should fall down slowly in ribbons) transfer to a piping bag.
Holding the piping bag at a 90-degree angle about 1.25 cm above the prepared baking sheet, pipe rounds of choux dough about 4 cm in diameter, spacing them about 3 cm apart. Smooth/flatten the pointed tips of the rounds with your fingers.
Brush with egg wash and bake for 20-25 minutes. The top should be golden brown.
Let the Choux out and cool completely at room temperature.
For the Mascarpone Cream
In a bowl, whisk and soften the cheese for a few minutes. Add the icing sugar and stir until it’s well incorporated. Lastly, add in the heavy whipping cream, which should be super cold. If necessary, pop this entire bowl in the freezer for a couple of minutes before whisking it. Once cold, whisky it with a hand mixer till it comes together in a pipe-able mass which can hold its shape. Fill in a piping bag.
Place the chopped chocolate chunks in a bowl. Heat the cream on medium heat until it’s lightly simmering. Take it off the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute and stir till all the chocolate melts in the residual heat of the cream – you should have a spreadable ganache. If the consistency is too thin / thick add more chocolate / cream to fix it.
Take a choux bun and with the help of a pointy object, like a knitting needle or even a sharp knife, make a hole / slit wide enough for your piping tip to fit through to fill the bun. Pipe the cream in till it Profiterole almost bursts 🙂
Once all the buns are filled, place them in the freezer for 15 mins, so that they become easier to handle. After 15 minutes, spread the chocolate ganache on the Profiteroles with the back of a spoon. Place it back in the fridge and eat cold 😀