Profiteroles are made with pate a choux, a classic French pastry dough. This is the ultimate dessert my friends. Especially when you can serve it like an epic pastry tower like this one.
Profiteroles with pate a choux dough was one of the first recipes I learned to make in culinary school. It’s a basic pastry technique that you had to master in pastry class. We spent a couple days on it and it was magical.
I still remember making each component of the dish and being so proud of the finished product. The best part was eating these little babies. They have a crunchy exterior and a soft pillowy interior. You can stuff them with whipped cream, pastry cream, ice cream or just top them with a chocolate ganache.
Because we use pate a choux in the culinary world a lot, I want to cover some of the basics and troubleshooting questions that go along with making this dough. We also covered this in December in the More Momma Cooking School if you want to take a class just on pate a choux.
If you want to head straight to the profiterole recipe just scroll down to the bottom, but I do recommend understanding some of the basics of this pastry dough since it does require a little bit of love and effort.
So let’s get started!
What is Pate A Choux:
Pate a choux is a classic French pastry dough that has great versatility. It is a pastry dough made with simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand. The ingredients are butter, water, flour and eggs.
The steps to making pate a choux need to be followed exactly. After the dough is made you can use it for many different purposes.
This pastry dough is typically piped into circular rounds and then baked to create a hallow inside. Pate A Choux literally translates to “cabbage paste” because when they bake they resemble little cabbages.
So let’s now learn how to make this basic dough.
How To Make Pate A Choux:
To make the pate a choux add the butter and water to a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted.
Crack the eggs into a large measuring cup or bowl. Scramble the eggs with a whisk.
When the butter is melted, remove from the heat and add in the flour and salt. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until it creates a mass on the spoon.
Place back on the stove over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat for a minute or so to cool and develop the gluten.
Add the eggs (a tablespoon at a time) until well combined.
To see if the dough is ready see if it passes the shoestring test. Place a small amount of dough between two fingers, it should create a 1 inch sting before breaking.
Then you are ready to fill the dough in a pastry bag and pipe the dough on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
The shoestring test is used to check the structure of the dough. Place a small amount of dough between your pointer finger and thumb and stretch them apart. the dough should make a 1 inch “string” before it breaks in half.
Pate A Choux Versatility:
What is so great about pate a choux dough is it can create so many different choux recipes from just one batter. Eclairs, profiteroles, cream puffs, and churros all can come from pate a choux pastry.
Here are some of the amazing things you can make with the pate a choux.
Profiteroles are typically circular and filled with ice cream. They are topped with a chocolate ganache, which is basically just a warm chocolate sauce.
This is what we will be making today in the recipe card section.
The profiterole is my favorite way of using pate a choux. They are so elegant and a great way to wow your guests.
I also love to change up the ice cream flavors or even make this into a profiterole “bar” where your guests can fill and make their own profiteroles with whatever toppings or fillings they enjoy.
Try different ice cream flavors like rocky road, chocolate, salted caramel, cookie dough or butter pecan ice creams. Or add some fresh berries like raspberries or blueberries as an option. Maybe make a couple different types of ganache like a dark chocolate or white chocolate ganache.
The possibilities are endless.
Eclairs are equally as extravagant and a great way to be creative. The dough is piped into a long 5-6 inch line and then baked to create it’s signature shape.
Typical fillings consist of pastry cream, barvarian cream or even whipped cream. But again you can get creative and use a flavored pudding, or a fruity cream cheese frosting filling.
Eclairs are also topped with a ganache. I love changing it up and using a white chocolate ganache and then adding a few drops of food coloring. Top with sprinkles, fresh fruit or edible gold!
Cream puffs are a delicious and simple way to use pate a choux dough. They are piped into disks and then filled with whipped cream. You can top them with a light dusting of powdered sugar and you are good to go!
You can also turn this pate a choux dough into delicious, tasty churros. Although, there are other recipes and ways to make churros that taste more traditional.
The pate a choux dough is piped using a star tip and then deep fried. Toss the hot churros in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar and serve with a chocolate dipping sauce.
Just keep in mind if you do use this recipe for churros, they will be more “eggy” tasting. So stick to your favorite churro recipe if you like a more traditional Mexican style churro.
Now that we have learned what you can make with pate a choux let’s get cooking! My all time favorite thing to make with pate a choux pastry are these delicious profiteroles. Here are some basic tips when making profiteroles.
- Follow the directions exactly. This pastry really requires exactness.
- Let them cool completely before cutting into them. If you cut into them too early they may deflate.
- Let your ice cream sit out a little to soften before scooping. This is not only easier on your hands, but also yields a better mouth feel while eating. Too hard of ice cream will be difficult to eat.
- Serve immediately. Profiteroles should be served immediately after you fill with ice cream and top them with the ganche. If you wait too long, it just becomes a huge mess!
- For a fun presentation like you see in this recipe, create a tower by simply stacking the profiteroles into a tower shape. Make sure you have plenty of profiteroles on the bottom to create a steady base. I like to top them with ganache after they are in the tower shape. After you have formed your profiterole tower top with some fun sparkler candles for an over-the-top presentation.
How To Make Profiteroles:
- 3 sticks unsalted butter
- 3 cups water
- 12 eggs (plus 1 for egg wash)
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 16 ounces heavy cream
- 8 ounces dark chocolate
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
- Ice cream of choice
- sprinkles of choice
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. To make the pate a choux add the butter and water to a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted.
- Crack the eggs into a large measuring cup or bowl.
- Scramble the eggs with a whisk.
- When the butter is melted, remove from the heat and add in the flour and salt. Stir vigorously until it creates a mass on the spoon.
- Place back on the stove over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat for a minute or so to cool and develop the gluten.
- Add beaten eggs (a tablespoon at a time) until well combined.
- To see if the dough is ready see if it passes the shoestring test. Place a small amount of dough between two fingers, it should create a 1 inch sting before breaking.
- Prepare the piping bag by adding a plain tip to a plastic piping bag.
- Place over a cup to easily add the batter. Fill the piping bag with the batter 3/4 of the way full.
- Pipe 2-2 1/2 inch rounds (1/2 inch thick) on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leaving about an inch space in between.
- Beat the extra egg in a small bowl. Lightly brush the tops of the rounds with the egg wash.
- Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan and lower the heat to 350 and cook for another 10 minutes.
- To make the chocolate ganache add the cream to a saucepan. Heat over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces.
- Add the chocolate pieces to the hot cream and stir until the chocolate is melted.
- Add the vanilla bean paste or extract and stir.
- Let the profiteroles cool, slice in half and serve with ice cream in the middle and top with ganache. You can also top with festive sprinkles.
Our favorite ice cream to serve with profiteroles is salted caramel, chocolate, vanilla or rocky road.
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