Profiteroles or cream puffs are a classic dessert filled with a creamy custard and dipped in chocolate sauce. But it wasn't until I tried a version filled with billowy clouds of mascarpone cream and smothered in chocolate sauce and toasted hazelnuts that I really fell in love with them. If you love profiteroles this is a pushy recipe!
Profiteroles are a popular French dessert made with a choux pastry that is filled with a range of fillings from crème patissiere, ice cream or whipped cream and then topped with crunchy toffee caramel, icing or powdered sugar or chocolate sauce. They're a cousin to the eclair which is like a long finger shaped version of a profiterole. In America they also call these cream puffs. I was inspired to make this dish by the profiteroles that I had at a restaurant called Pistou.
These profiteroles have 4 easy parts to them: the choux pastry, the filling, the chocolate sauce and toasted nuts. The filling, chocolate sauce and nuts are super simple and actually the choux pastry isn't that difficult. As far as pastry making goes it's quite straightforward.
Cross section of choux puffs empty inside and ready for filling!
1 - Choux pastry: is made using simple ingredients (flour, milk, water and eggs) and my recipe for choux pastry is adapted from the Patisse cooking school where we made a giant croquembouche so it's fantastic and really works. Choux balls once baked can also be frozen for up to 3 months and filled when needed. After defrosting them I like refreshing them in a 180C/350F oven for 5 minutes to crisp them up again.
2 - Mascarpone cream: is simple (even easier than crème patissiere!) and you just whip mascarpone, cream, vanilla and sugar together using a whisk or a mixer.
3 - Chocolate Ganache: is so easy. All you do to make the most perfect ganache for profiteroles is to heat up cream, pour it over a bowl of chopped chocolate and then cover with a plate. Then after 5 minutes stir it up and it becomes the most amazingly delicious chocolate sauce at the perfect temperature!
4 - Hazelnuts: Profiteroles really benefit from a crunchy texture as they're so soft and puffy. I always make sure to toast my hazelnuts fresh and I roast them quite dark to bring out the flavour-my nose always tells me when nuts are perfectly toasted and I find once they start to smell delicious then they're ready! If you have hazelnuts with the skin on roast them dark (180C/350F for 8-10 minutes or so) and then place them in some paper towels and rub off the skins. Then chop them up ready to sprinkle on top at the end.
Profiteroles are best when freshly filled so that the choux doesn't get wet or soggy but the toasted hazelnuts really help in that respect and give them a crunch. Plus the filling isn't very wet at all.
I liked that I could do this over two days and I made the choux balls one day and then filled them the next because I've been preoccupied with securing our house. I don't use facebook much except for marketplace but I did join my local suburb's facebook group just because friends had recommended doing that because you tend to find out good recommendations for businesses that way. Usually there isn't that much happening there.
But then one day someone asked if anyone had seen something peculiar. There was a man that was spotted looking into people's front gardens and it attracted attention because he was looking really intently but in the pouring rain going from house to house. Reports of similar sightings came up from people on different streets and when confronted he bolted away immediately. They had a vague description of him and it was clear that he was casing houses to see if he could break in. I filed it away mentally to look out for him.
A few days later it was time to take Teddy and Milo out for a walk and I was putting my shoes and coats on so Mr NQN said that he would meet me outside. When I emerged from the house Mr NQN was looking in the bushes. "What are you doing?" I asked him.
"I saw a guy looking in our bushes," he said. "I'm trying to see what he was looking at."
"Oh my god that's the guy!" I said and explained about the sketchy guy. Apparently one thing that potential burglars look at is the type of shrubbery that sits near a window to see if there are thorns or spikes to see whether it is easy to access the house through that window. We have been broken into once and it's incredibly violating and I was worried that he might come back.
Mr NQN installed a google nest camera right in the front window that detects motion and it's very unsubtle but I'm happy with that. We've also made super sure to lock all the doors and windows even when we are home. We replaced a gate padlock and are going to install motion sensor lights and more cameras and trying to figure out the best security system-apart from having two little dogs!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you have any tips to secure your home? And do you like profiteroles?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Profiteroles With Mascarpone Cream & Chocolate Sauce
Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 3 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves: 18 profiteroles (depending on size that you pipe them)
- 100g/3.5ozs milk
- 80g/2.8ozs water
- 80g/2.8ozs butter, chopped
- 5g0.18oz sugar
- 3g/0.11oz salt
- 100g/3.5ozs plain all purpose flour
- 3 eggs, whisked together
For mascarpone filling
- 500g/1.1lb. mascarpone
- 500ml/1 pint cream
- 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For Chocolate ganache sauce
- 185g/6.5ozs. chocolate (I like a 50/50 mix of milk and dark), chopped
- 185ml/6.5flozs. cream
- 75g hazelnuts, toasted well and skinned and chopped
Step 1 - Make choux pastries first. Preheat oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line 2 baking trays with parchment. Place the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to almost a boil. Remove from the heat and quickly mix in the flour with a flat bottomed wooden spoon or spatula. Place back on low heat and keep stirring until the dough pulls away from the edges-it should take around 2 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes.
Step 2 -Fit a mixer with a beater attachment and add the dough and start to beat and allow the heat to escape. Gradually pour in the beaten egg and keep beating until smooth and glossy. At this stage you can refrigerate this dough overnight or use straight away. By the time it is glossy and smooth it should cool enough to place in a piping bag. Snip off the end of the bag and pipe rounds around 4 to 4.5 cms (1.6-1.7inches) - they will expand a little. Wet the tips of your fingers and gently press down the tops so that they are smooth. Bake for 20 minutes, I like to do this one tray at a time. Then remove the tray from the oven and prick a couple of holes in eachchoux to allow the steam to be released and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Cool in a warm spot to prevent the choux from shrinking. They will deflate a tiny bit but not much.
Pressing down the tips with wet fingers
Creating a smooth dome
Step 3 -To make the filling whip the mascarpone, cream, icing sugar and vanilla together until light, fluffy and smooth. Place in a piping bag fitted with a plain tip and keep in the fridge until needed.
Vanilla Mascarpone cream
Step 4 -Make the chocolate ganache sauce. Place the two types of chocolate chips in a bowl. Heat the cream until boiling and pour over the chocolate. Place a plate over the bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Then remove the plate and stir it well. It should all melt together and will be the perfect dipping consistency.
Adding the hot cream to the chocolate chips
Ta-da! Perfect textured chocolate ganache for dipping and pouring
Step 5 - Poke a hole at the bottom of each choux with a knife and pipe mascarpone cream. Make sure to fill them up well so that they are nice and plump. Then dip the top into the chocolate and place on a plate. Repeat with the rest and sprinkle with hazelnuts. Serve with more chocolate sauce.