I never need an excuse to make something delicious, but the Euros have just finished and tomorrow is Bastille Day, so that means just one thing: French food! I’ve already posted my recipe for a gooey Croque Monsieur, but the French excel at desserts and choux pastry is a classic.
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with profiteroles. When they’re fresh you can’t beat them, but too many places serve them stale or soggy, and that’s never good. There’s one other tiny problem: I don’t like cream. Weird, right? I can tolerate it, but apart from moisture (which is sometimes vital) it doesn’t add much. I suppose adding moisture is the whole point of it though, and this is especially important when you’re making profiteroles. Their crisp shell is dry, and although I’ve spent years drowning them in chocolate sauce, they really need a filling. (I don’t like crème pâtissière either. I’ll get over my aversion to cream first and then I’ll tackle that!) Since my only issue with cream is the flavour and not the texture, I figured that was easily solved.
These light profiteroles are filled with a salted caramel cream that actually tastes like salted caramel, and drizzled with chocolate sauce. I get really annoyed when salted caramel doesn’t taste salty, but this cream actually does. It’s a revelation. The sauce alone is gorgeous, and is particularly good in homemade chocolates.
Profiteroles (makes about 25)
2 eggs, beaten
Salted Caramel Cream
30g golden syrup60g caster sugar
Salt, to taste
90g chocolate, chopped
1tbsp golden syrup
Start by making the salted caramel sauce. Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup gently over a low heat and let it simmer for 3 minutes. Add 75ml of cream, stir and let it cook for another minute or 2. Add half a teaspoon of salt to start with, and add more to taste. (Taste carefully! Don’t burn yourself!) I use Maldon Sea Salt Flakes which I crush a little to make sure they dissolve in the sauce. You want a nice balance of salty and sweet so don’t be afraid to add more salt if you think the balance is off. Allow the sauce to cool fully while you make the profiteroles.
For the profiteroles, preheat the oven to 220ºC. Melt the butter in the water and then bring to the boil. Remove it from the heat and quickly add the flour. Beat the mixture until it comes together, then return it to the heat and cook for another minute or so, beating all the time. Allow the mix to cool. When it has cooled, add the eggs a little at a time, beating well. You want a smooth mixture that just drops off a spoon and that can be piped. You may not need all the egg.
Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle and pipe small mounds onto a baking tray lined with parchment. Wet a finger and pat down the tops of the mounds so they’re smooth. Flick more water over the tray. This helps create steam which will help the profiteroles rise. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 190ºC and bake for another 10 minutes. They should be risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven and prick each one with a cake tester or skewer. Put them back in the oven for a further 5 minutes to crisp them up more. Leave them to cool.
To make the sauce, heat 125ml of cream until it’s just about to boil, then pour it over the chocolate. Leave it for a couple of minutes and then stir it until the chocolate has melted. Stir in the golden syrup and butter until you have a glossy sauce.
To finish the salted caramel cream, put 175ml of cream and about 75ml of salted caramel sauce into a bowl and whisk until it forms soft peaks. Put the cream in a piping bag fitted with a small, sharp nozzle if you want to pipe it into the profiteroles. Alternatively, if you’re like me and you can’t find your nozzles, slice each profiterole in half carefully and spoon the cream into each one, replace the tops as you go.
Serve the profiteroles drizzled with warm chocolate sauce or leftover salted caramel.
Easy, and not a soggy profiterole in sight!