Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Profiteroles or Cream Puffs--Plain Vanilla

I put a picture of a vanilla stick on top of today's post because profiteroles or cream puffs, as they are called here, to me are mostly about a perfect vanilla cream. I like them most plain vanilla, no chocolate sauce, just dusted with icing sugar on top.

You would not believe how many years ago I made them for the first time. I perfected this recipe and baked for weekends very often. I would say, probably a hundred times. When I moved out from Poland, I did not make until four years ago when I was doing dessert catering for a restaurant and the parties they organized. Profiteroles seemed a perfect finger dessert--delicious and easy to eat just in two bites.

To some, profiteroles seems so complicated to make, that they prefer to buy them ready-made and stuffed with whipped cream. But, in fact, it is a very easy dessert and unbelievably rewarding, when a smooth, aromatic vanilla cream melts in your mouth together with the delicate pastry, which, first crispy, softens with the cream inside the puff. I like to add a little bit of fresh sour cream cheese as Lebne or just a bit of Greek yogurt to the cream, which gives the vanilla cream a little bit of extra taste.

Vanilla Profiteroles


1 cup water,
1 cup all purpose flour,
4 eggs,
1 stick unsalted butter,
a pinch of salt,
1/2 tsp baking powder,
icing sugar for dusting.

1. Pour water in a medium pot, add butter cut into smaller pieces, salt, and bring it to boil.
2. Turn down the heat and add all the flour at once, incorporating it with a wooden spoon. Stir until a smooth and shiny dough forms and the dough does not stick to the wall of the pot. Take it aside and let it cool slightly.
3. Using a large whisker or a hand mixer, add eggs, waiting in between until each is incorporated in the dough.

At the end, add half a teaspoon of baking powder and mix it well with the dough.
4. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease with butter a large cookie sheet. Using a large spoon scoop a dough and place on a baking sheet leaving space between as they will double in size. This should make 22-26 profiteroles.

5. Bake for 20-23 minutes until profiteroles rise and turn gold. Turn off the oven and let them stay there for another 10 minutes.

Place them on a cookie rack and let cool.

Vanilla Cream

1 and 1/2 cup milk,
1/2 cup sugar,
2 eggs,
2 and 1/2 tbsp corn or potato flour,
2 and 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour,
1 stick of vanilla or 1 tbsp a good quality vanilla essence.
2 sticks of butter,
1/4 cup fresh sour cheese (optional) as Lebne, or 2 tbsp of Greek yogurt

1. In a small bowl mix eggs, both flours and 1/2 cup milk.
2. Pour remaining cup of milk into a medium pot, add sugar and vanilla stick cut alongside, or vanilla essence. Bring to boil. Discard the vanilla stick.
3. Pour a hot milk into flour and eggs mixture. Mix well and transfer it all back to the pot where the milk was boiled. Return to heat and bring to the boil. Take off from the heat and cool.
4. Cut butter into smaller cubes. Add them gradually to the custard and using electric mixer beat until it becomes smooth and shiny. If you like, add fresh cheese or Greek yogurt at the end.

5. Cut the profiteroles in half, put a generous spoon of cream on each bottom half, cover it with the top half,

and dust with the icing sugar on top.

Hint: You can keep the finished profiteroles in a refrigerator--they will be soft, or assemble them before serving--this will make them more crunchy. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

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