Wednesday 15 August 2012

Chocolate Profiteroles

I made these profiteroles a few weeks back now and was all set to share them with you on A Cup of Tea Solves Everything, but when I sat down to tell you all about them, I found I was suffering an acute case of writer's block.  What to say about why I made them...?  Given the name of my blog, you might well ask why I didn't just make myself a strong brew to solve my problem and get the writing juices flowing again.   Fair enough point you've made there, dear reader.   The problem is, it's currently Ramadan, which means no food or drink for me during daylight hours; and let me tell you, daylight goes on a loooooonnnng time in England in the middle of summer.

So, no tea and no food.  Hmm, for someone as obsessed with food as I am, Ramadan is definitely a challenge.  Every year when it starts, I wonder how I will cope.  A few years back, it dawned on me: my coping mechanism is simply to replace eating obscene amounts of food all day with thinking about obscene amounts of food all day.   Yes, I'm aware that this isn't perhaps the true objective of a spiritual detox, but I just can't seem to help it - much as I try not to, I find myself whiling away the hours poring through my recipe books and trawling online baking sites, dreaming about all of the yummy things I would cram into my mouth there and then were I able to.

This year, during one of my food-filled fasting reveries, I came across profiteroles.   Now who doesn't love a good profiterole?   Well actually, my mum for one, but then again, she doesn't like chocolate desserts in general so I think we all know there's no help for her really (love you mummatha!)   Anyway, I digress.   One of the traditions we have in Ramadan is to have big get-togethers with friends and family to break the fast together at sunset, so I decided I would give profiteroles a go for such an occasion.   That way, I wouldn't just have to dream about them by day, I could eat them by night.   Hurrah!

These profiteroles came out nicely but, if you will permit me, I do have two slight criticisms: firstly, I felt that the pastry wasn't filled with enough cream (I opted to fill half with orange-flavoured whipped cream and half with chocolate-flavoured whipped cream. The orange was by far my favourite); secondly both the chocolate cream filling and the chocolate sauce I made were too bitter and not sweet enough because I used chocolate with 70% cocoa content.  In light of these facts, I've tweaked the recipe I've provided below to rectify both of these shortcomings, so hopefully, if I have inspired you to make profiteroles yourself, you won't have the same problems I did.
Makes about 30 profiteroles
For the choux pastry:
200ml cold water
4 tsp caster sugar
85g unsalted butter
115g plain flour
Pinch of salt
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten

For the cream filling:
400ml whipping cream
Zest of 1 orange
100g plain chocolate (40% cocoa)

For the chocolate sauce:
100g plain chocolate (40% cocoa)
40ml whipping cream
20ml golden syrup
Knob of butter
20g chopped, roasted hazelnuts (optional)

To make the pastry, preheat the oven to 200C (fan), placing a roasting tray in the bottom of the oven.  Grease two or three baking sheets.

Place the water, sugar and butter into a large saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted.

Turn the heat up and bring to the boil.  Once boiling, quickly tip in the flour and salt.  Remove from the heat and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth paste that comes away clean from the saucepan.  Set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, until the mixture is smooth and glossy and has a soft dropping consistency.
Using a piping bag and plain 1cm nozzle, pipe the mixture into small walnut-sized balls in lines across the baking sheets. Gently rub the top of each ball with a wet finger - this helps to make a crisper top.

Place the baking sheets into the oven. Before closing the oven door, pour half a cup of water into the roasting tin at the bottom of the oven, then quickly shut the door to help create more steam in the oven and make the pastry rise better.  Bake for 10 minutes at 200C before turning the oven down to 180C and baking for another 15 minutes, or until golden-brown - if the profiteroles are too pale they will become soggy when cool.

Remove from the oven and turn the oven off.  Prick the base of each profiterole with a skewer. Place back onto the baking sheet with the hole in the base facing upwards and return to the oven for five minutes. The warm air from the oven helps to dry out the middle of the profiteroles.

For the filling, lightly whip the cream until soft peaks form, then split into two bowls.  Fold the orange zest into one of the bowls of whipped cream.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a bain marie and, once slightly cool, fold through the second bowl of whipped cream.

When the profiteroles are cold, split each one into two.  Fill half the profiteroles with the orange cream and the other half with the chocolate cream before sandwiching the lids back on.

For the chocolate sauce, melt the chocolate and cream together in a saucepan over a low heat.  Stir until the chocolate has melted and you have a smooth paste, then stir in the syrup.  Finally add the butter.

Dip each profiterole gently into the chocolate sauce before stacking onto a plate ready for eating.  Sprinkle with the hazelnuts if using.

Keep refrigerated until about 20 minutes prior to eating.