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Author Notes: This is a delicious fall twist on the classic vanilla and chocolate profiteroles of my youth – bright, spicy cinnamon, intense dark chocolate, and the warm comfort of apples. An elegant (and impressive!) finish to what is often an epic meal. What I most love about this dessert for Thanksgiving is its size – it’s but two sweet bites (often all one can take at the end of the day) but complex enough to stand up as The Dessert. It is also endlessly variable – with a different ice cream flavor and sauce, you can cater the profiterole to your particular meal and place. TIPS: The beauty of profiteroles is that most of the pieces can be made ahead of time, which leaves nothing but assembly on an otherwise chaotic Thanksgiving day. The choux pastry can be made, piped into shape, and frozen weeks in advance, to be baked on the day of; the ice cream can be made in the days leading up to Thanksgiving; and the ganache will keep in the fridge and responds well to a quick spell in the microwave. The apple butter is certainly an unconventional addition to the classic profiterole, and unnecessary unless you have some on hand. By Thanksgiving I usually have just enough left over from September’s apple picking to add a taste. You could substitute a different, appropriate jam, or leave it out entirely. NB: The two-part recipe doesn't leave room for the ganache as its own thing, so I've added it as a step near the end. And...choux pastry is really not so hard, promise. —dpm
Makes 16 - 20 profiteroles, plus more to freeze
- 1 cup of water
- 5 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 1 cup of flour
- 4 to 5 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 450 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Combine water, butter, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat, add the flour all at once, and stir rapidly with a heatproof or wooden spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides and the bottom of the pan is clean. The dough will be glossy and smooth, but damp. Continue to cook the dough on medium heat, stirring constantly, for about five minutes. This is so enough moisture evaporates from the dough in order to absorb the eggs. A thin film will begin to appear on the sides and bottom of the pan, which indicates it is ready.
- Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and stir a few more times to allow some of the heat to escape from the dough. Add the first four eggs - one at at time - incorporating well after each addition. This is the hardest part. If you have a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, use it - makes the whole thing much easier. If you're like me and have (or want) to do it by hand, be patient. When you first add an egg, it will separate your dough into several glossy pieces. They will reform with some heavy mixing! After the fourth egg, take a spatula and lift up some dough. If the dough is very dry, doesn't slip off the spatula, or falls off all in one clump, add the fifth egg.
- Place the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain tip, or in a freeze bag and snip off the end. Pipe small disks, about 1 1/2 inches wide and 1/2 inch tall, leaving more than inch between them as they puff up when baked. Depending on the size, you will have 2-4 dozen puffs. One recipe of cinnamon ice cream will give you enough ice cream for 16-20 profiteroles, so you might consider freezing the extras until you need them (or making more ice cream!)
- Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet, reduce the oven to 350 F and bake for 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and cut open a test puff - the inside should be hollow and dry. If it's still gooey, eggy or moist, return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Allow the puffs to cool completely on the baking sheet, and then store in an airtight container until ready to serve. Serve the puffs on the same day they are baked.
- If freezing some or all, place in the freezer until frozen, and then transfer to a freezer container. Put the frozen puffs directly in the oven and bake as noted in Step 5 the day you'd like to eat them!
cinnamon ice cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- A pinch of salt
- Ten 3" cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 5 large egg yolks (save your whites! make an omelet or meringue!)
- Warm the milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon sticks and the cream on a medium saucepan. Once warm, cover and remove from heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Rewarm the cinnamon infused milk mixture. Remove the cinnamon sticks with a slotted spoon and discard them.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour some of the warmed milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the egg/milk mixture into the remaining milk mixture, and return to heat.
- Stir the mixture in a figure eight motion with a heatproof or wooden spoon over medium-low heat, scraping the bottom as your stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon. Best to be patient and cook over low heat rather than risk curdling the custard. Pour the custard in a bowl, and place in an ice bath (if the custard is a bit lumpy, you can strain it). Stir until cool. Place in refrigerator until cold, preferably over night, and then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- GANACHE! Finely chop 1/2 pound of good quality dark chocolate. In a saucepan bring 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 tablespoon light corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut 1/4 stick unsalted butter into pieces and add to ganache, whisking until smooth. You will have a thick, glossy, intensely flavored ganache - the flavor and intensity will depend on the chocolate you use. Allow to cool, and refrigerate until using.
- MAKE PROFITEROLES! Heat the oven to 300 F. Place puffs in oven and heat until crispy (chances are, they got a little soft in your airtight tupperware). Warm your apple butter, warm your ganache, and take your ice cream out to soften a bit. When ready, cut the puffs in half. Put a dab of warmed apple butter on the bottom disk, add a spoonful of ice cream, and top with the top half of the puff. Drizzle warmed ganache over the puff, and serve! I usually serve two on a plate, as they're quite small and make a beautiful pair.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Non-Pie Thanksgiving Dessert
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