Saturday, February 03, 2007

Pâte à Choux for making Éclairs and Profiteroles

The Altitude Adjustment Section
Pâte à Choux is the name of the dough used to make Profiteroles and Éclairs. Profiteroles are little cream puffs filled with ice cream and drizzled with chocolate. Éclairs are usually elongated pastries filled with custard or pastry cream and have a chocolate frosting on top. Both are equally delicious. The dough is made in a very unusual way and you must follow the instructions carefully to be successful, but I know you can do it. This recipe is adapted from Susan Purdy’s bestseller Pie in the Sky.

3 or 4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

In a saucepan, combine the water, butter and salt. Stir and bring to the boil. As soon as mixture boils remove from the heat and dump in the flour all at once. Now return to the heat on a low flame and mix hard with a wooden spoon for several minutes. The dough will soon look smooth and pull away from the sides of the pan and follow the spoon around the pan. This will take about 2 to 3 minutes. Let the dough cool in the bowl of your electric mixer for about 5 to 6 minutes till it reads 120 on an instant-read thermometer. With the mixer on medium, using the paddle attachment, add 1 egg at a time, blending well after each addition. The dough should look glossy and smooth and should start to slide off a spoon if held vertically. If it seems too thick add a little extra egg (that’s what the 4th egg is for).

Put dough in a pastry bag with a star tip. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper — you can put a few dabs of the dough in the corners underneath the parchment to keep it from sliding. Pipe small mounds of dough (for Profiteroles) or long tubes (For Éclairs).

Bake at 450 for 7 to 9 minutes and then lower oven to 325 for 12 minutes more. They should be nice and brown puffed and crisp. Let cool and then you can freeze or fill. Cut with a serrated knife and fill with your favorite ice cream, custard, or other yummy filling right before serving.

To make a quick chocolate sauce, melt 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate, 1/2 cup heavy cream, and 1 tablespoon brandy in a double boiler and pour over profiteroles. Call me!