You will know that school is going well and that I have retained my sanity when posts appear here on From My Table. As you can tell, it was touch and go there for a while, since my last post was put up here almost a month ago. But today I finished writing my first paper (and it was a doozy!) and I finally have time to catch up here. To set your minds at ease, it isn’t that I haven’t been eating or cooking. I have just found that I can either post on the blog or cook and photograph, but not both. I have stored up quite a few meals in my camera, but my typing time (and sterling wit) has been expended elsewhere for the past month — namely, at school.
Here’s the good news: I have a killer dessert for you. Made of chou dough (the same used for gougères), these are simple and scrumptious and versatile to boot. The ingredients are probably in your fridge and on your counter right now, and they take a mere half hour to make. Plus (as if you needed further incentive), profiteroles cut an elegant figure and thus can be served at your next dinner party. If you can wait that long…
Profiteroles, from the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts
1 cup water
5 Tbs. butter
1 c. unbleached white flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar. When water and butter boil, add the dry ingredients at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan, like so:
Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Then, beat the eggs in, one at a time. Each egg will make the mixture gloppy and slimy for a minute, but will turn back into smooth dough after some sustained stirring.
Lightly oil a baking sheet and/or line sheet with parchment paper. Using the wooden spoon or, if you’re fancy, a pastry bag, form mounds of dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Use about 1/4 cup of dough for each large puff or about 2 1/2 Tbs. for smaller puffs. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees then reduce temperature to 350 (don’t open the oven!) and bake for 20 minutes more for smaller puffs or 25 minutes more for larger puffs.
When the puffs are firm, turn off the oven, remove the puffs, and using a small sharp knife, score a horizontal cut about 2/3 of the way up each puff (this is much easier right out of the oven when the puffs are crispy). Return the puffs to the still-warm oven for about 15 minutes to let the residual heat dry them a bit. Remove and cool completely.
When ready to serve, fill as desired by cutting the top from each puff at its scored mark, mounding the filling inside and replacing the top.
My favorite fillings include:
Brigham’s vanilla ice cream with Herrell’s hot fudge sauce and/or dulce de leche (I used Stonewall Kitchen)
Home-made ice cream (coconut? strawberry? mocha chip?)
Apple chunks sauteed in butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
Cannoli filling (sweet ricotta, mmmm…)