Cream Puffs/Profiteroles have been one of my most favorite desserts since childhood. I still remember the first time I ever tried them. It was due to my grandmother who had picked me up from elementary school and bought some from a vendor working near the bus station while we were waiting for our bus to come.
What I’ve always loved about cream puffs is how well the choux pastry shell complements the whipped cream (which I sometimes refer to as Crème Chantilly). The shell is crispy on the edges but slightly softer in the center due to the soft texture of the cream filling. On the interior, the choux is airy and the whipped/chantilly cream is fluffy enough that the dessert feels satisfying but light at the same time. Of course, at the time, I just thought it was one of the yummiest things I’d ever eaten and didn’t bother to analyze the texture in that much detail.
However, during one weekend while I was still a senior in high school, I felt extremely overwhelmed with AP courses and other sources of stress and I thought back to how relaxed and happy I felt as a child on that day. One of the things I must have wondered about was what exactly felt so comforting and appealing about those cream puffs.
I often bake as a stress-reliever so I wanted to make a recipe that would provide the most comfort and relaxation that weekend. Furthermore, while my parents aren’t quite as obsessed with sweet treats and desserts as me, cream puffs are definitely an exception. They absolutely love it!
While I was looking for all my baking ingredients, I also found just enough dark chocolate in the pantry to incorporate into my recipe (another comfort food). I guess I felt particularly creative that weekend (probably due to procrastination) because I decided to make a profiterole pyramid!
A regular profiterole usually consists of a choux pastry with a vanilla ice cream filling and a drizzle of chocolate sauce but since it was a cold Saturday in January or early February and I really wanted a light and fluffy texture, I replaced the ice cream with whipped cream. I also chose to make chocolate ganache instead of chocolate sauce because I wanted a thicker and more prominent dark chocolate taste and I also needed it to act as a glue to build a stable profiterole pyramid.
1 cup All Purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup water
2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp granulated white sugar
8 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the flour and salt.
Heat up the butter and water in a saucepan until the butter has melted and the water comes to a boil.
Remove the saucepan from the stove to mix in the flour mixture then take it back to the stove and keep stirring the dough until it forms a ball that rolls around the pan.
Remove the saucepan from the stove again and stir the dough continuously to make it cool down enough to add the eggs.
Add the eggs, incorporating them into the dough one at a time.
Using 2 spoons or a piping bag, place small heaps of dough onto the baking sheet. (Have a small glass/bowl of water on the side and dip your fingers in it so that you can shape and clean up the heaps of dough without the dough sticking to your hands).
Bake the choux pastries for 15 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit then drop the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake them for an additional 30 minutes.
To make the whipped cream, whisk the 2 cups of heavy cream continuously (with a simple whisk/handmixer/standmixer) until it starts to get thicker. At this point, add in the granulated white sugar and vanilla extract and keep whisking until you reach stiff peaks.
To make the chocolate ganache, bring the 2/3 cup of heavy cream just to a boil, removing it from the heat as soon as bubbles begin to appear.
Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate, making sure that all of it is submerged. (Put the chocolate in a bowl deep enough that the cream will be able to submerge it all).
Wait 1 minute without disrupting the bowl with the cream and chocolate. After a minute, you can stir the mixture and add in 1 tbsp butter and 1/4 tsp of salt. Then let the chocolate ganache cool to room temperature.
To assemble everything, cut each choux in half and fill the middle with the whipped cream (or you can pipe the whipped cream in the choux).
Using the chocolate ganache as a glue, make a stable pyramid with the choux pastries. (Attach the choux pastries to each other in the shape of a pyramid using some of the chocolate ganache).
Finally drizzle the pyramid with the remaining chocolate ganache.
If you love cream puffs/profiteroles and baking in times of stress just as much as me, then definitely try this recipe. It’s beautiful, easy to make, and comforting to eat! Looking back now, I realize that this is the best way I’ve ever used my time while procrastinating. (However, NO I still don’t recommend procrastinating!)