27 Jun Pistachio & Chocolate Profiteroles
Guys. Gals. Peeps. Homies. Invisible internet friends. I’m super proud of how these turned out. Really, really proud. And excited. Like, this was the most fun I’ve had in the kitchen in a long time, excited.
Choux pastry, choux dough, pâte à choux (which has far too many wing dings, don’t you agree?) — whatever you call it — who knew it could be so damn fun?! I love everything about it, with my whole heart. From the way the dough steams and smells all nutty delicious as you cook it on the stove (yes, pastry on the stove!), to the way it puffs up oven, into a light, crisp shell leaving you with a hollow pocket for squeezing in the goop of your choice, surrounded by tiny bits of rich, eggy dough pillows.
I’ve been thinking about choux for months. (Pun intended.) Note that it’s actually pronounced like ‘shoe’ but I like to think of it as ‘choo’, as in, ‘What ‘chu lookin’ at?!’.
Last, last Christmas, my dadbought me Baking With Julia as a gift and it’s been my intention ever since to bake my way through the first ten recipes of the book – deemed the basic recipes that every baker should have in his or her repertoire. I’ve managed to make her make her flakey pie dough several times (butter + shortening combo, in case you were curious), enough to feel pretty damn confident in my pie crust skillz – which, if you remember, were pretty lacking at one point. Choux pastry is recipe-to-master numero dos. But, as often happens with good intentions, life [read: other recipes] get in the way, books get stashed on dusty shelves, and I never got around to Julia’s pâte à choux.
To be truthful, I didn’t even use her recipe in these profiteroles. But she planted the seed.
And when my friend Devrim’s birthday rolled around and he requested profiteroles as his birthday treat, I knew it was time to put on my choux pants and get down to business. Thus, the seed has taken root into these beautiful pastries. Light, airy choux pastries filled with a whipped pistachio pastry cream, topped with honey-sweetened chocolate ganache and chopped pistachios for a healthy crunch.
I chose not to use Julia’s choux pastry recipe mainly because hers calls for milk instead of water. You can use either when making a choux pastry and get beautiful results, but there are a few minor differences in the outcomes.
Pâte à choux made with milk: In most pastries, milk acts as a tenderizer. Therefore choux pastry made with it will result in a softer pastry. Additionally, the lactose proteins caramelize during baking and cause milk-based pastry to have a deeper brown color than its water-based counterpart.
Pâte à choux made with water: Choux made with water results in a lighter, crispier shell and a lighter brown color. Since, I wanted my pastries to be nice and sturdy so they could stand up to both the pistachio cream filling & the chocolate ganache topping, I went with water as my liquid.
Whichever you choose, this choux pastry recipe can be boiled down to a simple ratio of 1:1:1:1:1 — one cup of water, one stick of butter, one cup of flour, one cup of eggs (4 eggs), one pinch of salt. Pretty simple, right?
And while making a pastry dough on the stove may seem intimidating, it’s actually quite quite easy. Easier than say, making a perfectly fluffy cake batter, even. There’s no waiting for butter to soften or worrying about bringing your liquids to room temperature because you’re going to simmer them together on the stove anyway. And it takes like, 10 minutes, total.
All those fancy french folks who have been intimidating you with their pâte à choux swans all this time? It was a fake-out.
So roll up your sleeves, slap on your apron, and get to making some cream puffs! (Which are the exact same thing as profiteroles, in case you were confused.)
A few notes about this recipe:
I chose to use pistachio pastry cream because I know pistachios are one of Devrim’s favorite, but you can incorporate whatever flavors you like. Classic vanillas pastry cream would be perfect, or you could add a little espresso powder for kick. Fancy up the ganache by adding a tablespoon of raspberry preserves.
If you have left over puffs, you can freeze them unfilled in an airtight container for up to 2 months. When ready to serve, remove from the freezer and let thaw to room temperature. If desired, crisp them up by placing in a 375F oven for 3-5 minutes (no need to thaw in this case, just pop them in the oven).
SHORTCUT: If you really wanted to make this recipe minimal effort, use instant pudding for the filling and store-bought fudge sauce for the topping. But really, the ganache is SO easy (3 ingredients!), I highly recommend you make it at home. The honey sweetness paired with the pistachios is perfection.
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 good pinch of salt
- 1 cup eggs (4 large eggs)
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup pistachios, finely grated in food processor
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 tbsp chopped pistachios for garnish
- Preheat oven 425F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium pot, bring the water and butter to a simmer over medium heat. Add the flour and with a wooden spoon or spatula, stir very quickly in one direction. As the flour starts to absorb the liquid, a dough will form. Keep stirring to cook off some of the water, until the flour begins to smell nutty, about 2 more minutes.
- Transfer the paste to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the dough on low for about 30 seconds to a minute to allow some of the heat to escape.
- Throw in the pinch of salt, then add eggs one at a time mixing rapidly until each is combined into the paste. The paste will go from shiny to slippery to sticky as the egg is incorporated.
- Spoon the dough into a large piping bag or gallon-sized plastic bag. Use your hands to squeeze dough towards the bottom corner. Use scissors to cut off just the tip tip of the bag, about 1/4" of the tip. Pipe onto a baking sheet into little puffs, keeping the puffs 2-inches apart. With your finger, press down the peaks (as they can burn.) Bake at 425F for 10 minutes, then 350F for 18-30 minutes, depending on the size of your puffs. Puffs are done when they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Let cool for 3-5 minutes on the baking sheet (cool enough to handle) then transfer to a wire rack. For a crispier pastry, use a sharp knife to cut a 1 inch slit in the side of each puff to let steam escape.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the milk just until small bubbles appear around the edge. Add the vanilla.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg with the granulated sugar and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in about half of the warm milk then transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, mixing constantly.
- Continue to whisk, until very thick, smooth and shiny, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape into a bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the butter. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
- Chill your stand mixer bowl or a medium bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove and beat the heavy cream until firm peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream along with the pistachios. Refrigerate until ready to fill your profiteroles.
- Place the cream and chocolate chips in a medium saucepan and stir just until the chocolate melts. Add the honey and stir until smooth. Set aside.
- Transfer half to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain tip
- Cut each profiterole in half crosswise and fill with pastry cream. Return to baking sheet.
- Once all profiteroles are filled, spoon chocolate ganache over the top of each and garnish with chopped pistachios. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 8 hours.