Although I don’t often bake many sweets (partly due to high temperatures and high humidity in Hong Kong), this tiny cream puff gem is definitely a must have in one’s collection of recipes! Profiteroles, one of the smallest members of the cream puff family, are made from a thick batter. A drop of the batter on a baking sheet expands during baking to become a hollow golden ball, perfect for any number of fillings, such as ice cream, pastry cream, or even savory mixtures. The magic ingredient that transforms solid batter into hollow puffs is steam, which is produced by the liquid in the paste during baking.
50g. (2 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
75g. (2 3/4 oz.) plain flour
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
200ml. (7 oz.) whipping cream (whipped enough to fill puff)
100g. (3.5 oz.) semi sweet chocolate (broken into pieces)
25 g. (1 oz.) unsalted butter
50 g. (2 oz.) caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 200c (400f). Grease a baking sheet and dust with flour. Pour milk and 5 tablespoons water into a small saucepan, add the butter and bring to the boil over a low heat. To form a smooth paste, add the flour all at once to the boiling water-milk mixture in the saucepan. Stir vigorously and scrape the sides of the pan until a stiff paste comes together in a smooth ball. Transfer the thick shiny paste to a large mixing bowl, separate the paste into a few pieces, and cool them for only 10 minutes before adding the eggs. If the eggs are added when the paste is too hot, they can set the eggs, resulting in a paste that will not puff sufficiently in the oven. Beat in the eggs by hand until fully absorbed.
Spoon mixture into a piping bag and pipe 16 mounds onto the prepared baking sheet making sure they are well spaced apart. Bake for 15 minutes or until the mounds are puffed up and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Do not place close together or the steam may soften the puffs and make them soggy.
Method for Topping
Melt the chocolate with 1 tablespoon of water in a small saucepan over a low heat. Stir in butter and sugar and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and leave to cool to room temperature. Make a slit in the side of the profiterole and fill with the whipped cream. Top with the chocolate sauce.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: Small cream puffs bake at a lower temperature (400 degrees) than large ones (425 degrees). You can also arrange the puffs in a pyramid on a dish and pour the melted chocolate over them. Always choose a high grade of chocolate. I like chocolate when there’s 60% cocoa. Don’t be afraid of it tasting too bitter, the sugar you add will more than compensate as you don’t want the chocolate too sweet. If you don’t have a piping bag, use a large (extra strength) baggie and cut one corner off and use as a piping bag. Enjoy!