Hi there, I know I’ve been quiet this year, but you didn’t think I’d stay quiet over the Christmas period, right? Christmas is the best time for baking; when everyone’s having get-togethers, bringing in biscuit boxes to work or just generally hiding from the cold dark evenings. I’ve still been baking, and I’ve even managed to photograph some of the things I’ve baked. This mean I’ve managed to get a bit of a backlog of recipes to post, and what better time than Christmas to post them? I’ve been trying to push myself with my baking recently, teaching myself new things, or baking things that are outside of my usual comfort zone. One of the things that’s been on my list for years, that I’ve never plucked up the courage to try and make, has been choux pastry. It’s always been intimidating, from bake off to recipe books to many places talk about how hard it is to get right. After a few mistakes with my baking in recent months I was even more worried, but decided that now was the time to try and make some simple Profiteroles, and that it was also time to try my hand at making Crème Patissiere for the first time too.
Amazingly, both went incredibly smoothly, and I ended up with a mountain of crème patissiere filled profiteroles, drizzled with a chocolate glaze. Every one of these little balls of choux was light and rose perfectly ready to house the crème pat which you can pipe into a hole in the bottom of each one.
Don’t let choux intimidate you, these are a perfect accompaniment to a table at a dinner party, as the dessert for your Christmas dinner or even just as a wintery weekend treat. If you don’t want to make the Crème Patissiere, then you can whip up some cream and pipe that in instead.
- **For the Creme Patissiere**
- 4 egg yolks
- 125g caster sugar
- 40g cornflour
- 500ml milk
- 1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways, or 1tsp vanilla extract
- 40g unsalted butter
- **For the Choux Pastry**
- 220ml water
- 80g unsalted butter
- Pinch of salt
- Generous pinch of sugar
- 125g plain flour
- 220g beaten egg
- **For the topping**
- 100g dark chocolate
- **For the Creme Pat**
- Start by making the creme pat so it has a chance to cool.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the colour has gone pale.
- Sieve in the cornflour and keep whisking until there are no lumps left.
- Heat the milk and vanilla in a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat until just before it boils.
- Pour half of the milk into the egg & sugar mixture, whisking continuously. Keep whisking until it's well incorporated.
- Pour this mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and return to a medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Keep whisking until it's bubbling gently and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This should take around 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and keep whisking for another minute. Then stir through the butter until it's melted and incorporated. If you used a vanilla pod as well, this is the time to take it out.
- Pour into a bowl, covering the surface itself with cling film, and leave to cool. If you need it quickly, you can do this in a baking tray with the creme pat spread out. (SEE NOTES for storage instructions)
- **Make the Choux Pastry**
- Preheat the oven to 220°C(200°C fan assisted) and butter two baking trays then place them in the fridge until you need them.
- In a medium saucepan, gently heat the water, butter, salt and sugar until just boiling and the butter has melted.
- Keeping the pan over the heat, add the flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the paste is smooth and comes away from the sides. Make sure you're constantly moving it to stop it from catching.
- Decant into a cold bowl, and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Add the beaten egg, a little at a time, and incorporate well. This can take a little while, the mixture can potentially look split at first, but it will eventually come together. You need to get the paste to 'dropping' consistency; i.e. if you scoop up a large amount, it should drop back into the bowl within about 5 seconds.
- Transfer to a large piping bag with a 2cm hole.
- Pipe the pastry into 4cm blobs on the prepared baking sheets.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until they are golden brown and they've puffed up.
- Remove from the oven, and once they've cooled enough to touch, poke a small hole in the bottom. This will stop them from collapsing and also give you a hole to pipe into.
- Pipe creme pat into each profiterole.
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl over boiling water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water, and drizzle over the profiteroles to finish.
The creme pat can be stored for up to a week, but make sure the cling film is pressed against the surface so that it doesn’t form a skin.