Today’s Recipes: Profiteroles (Pate a Choux Pastry), Bourbon Ice Cream, Chocolate Ice Cream, Hot Fudge Sauce, and Heavenly Caramel Sauce!
Are you looking for a spectacular dessert for your Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinner? A real showstopper? Then I have just the one for you. Have you ever had profiteroles? They are baked pastry shells filled with either a pastry cream or ice cream, and then drizzled with dessert sauces, typically chocolate and/or caramel sauce! Have you ever heard of anything so decadent?
Now, before you say Nah and click off the page, let me tell you that you can assemble this dessert in a heartbeat! You don’t have to make everything yourself – pick one thing (or as much as you want) and buy the rest. Not everyone is comfortable making pastry. There are wonderful premade products available (see my Tips and Hints below) and if you want to skip the pastry, you can buy cups made out of chocolate (I’m not kidding!) and use those to hold the ice cream and sauce.
But if you are ambitious and want to make all the components yourself, you won’t be sorry! There is nothing that tastes quite like homemade ice cream and dessert sauces. And of course homemade pastry speaks for itself. Most of the components can be made ahead so that the only thing you need to do on the day of your party is bake off the pastry shells and assemble the desserts just before serving.
If you are making your own ice cream, make it at least 2 or 3 days ahead so it has time to firm up in the freezer. I’ve given you a recipe for Chocolate Ice Cream from the incomparable David Lebovitz – try it, you’ll love it. If you prefer Vanilla, you can see my post here which includes the recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream.
If you want to make an Italian version of this, try Sfogliatelle, puff pastry stuffed with a sweetened ricotta filling. My Italian friend Anna reminded me about these. Similar to a traditional cannoli filling, you mix ricotta with a little honey or sugar, vanilla, and finely chopped candied orange peel. Go ahead and leave the cannoli when you have these little bites of heaven, LOL!
When you are searching for the perfect gift for your family, friends, co-workers, etc., don’t forget that homemade goodies are always appreciated. These dessert sauces make wonderful food gifts. Pour them into decorative jars, seal, and wrap with a beautiful ribbon. There is no one who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be your Secret Santa if you are giving these out as gifts, LOL!
When you are planning your holiday celebrations, I hope you try these profiteroles or another special dessert to dazzle your guests!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
There are good quality pre-made products that you can buy to make this a super easy dessert! Pepperidge Farms sells Puff Pastry Shells that you can bake up and act as a substitute for the Pate a Choux (pot-ah-shoe) cream puffs. Fill those with great ice cream and top with the dessert sauce of your choice. Everyone will swoon!
Kitchen Skill: Making Caramel
Caramel is really just melted sugar cooked until golden brown. Most recipes tell you to dissolve sugar in water and then cook it. This helps keep the caramel from burning. Stir the sugar until it is dissolved and comes to a boil, then stop stirring! Let cook undisturbed until it turns a medium golden color. (Use a light colored pan so you can see the change of color more easily.) Pull it off the heat and carefully stir in heavy cream. Voila! You have caramel sauce!! It is so easy to make that I encourage you to make it yourself. You’ll never go back to jarred sauce again!
- Bourbon Ice Cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 6 extra-large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tbsp bourbon
- 1 tbsp dark rum
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Hot Fudge Sauce
- 12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped coarsely
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 (12 oz) cans low-fat evaporated milk
- 4 tbsp cane syrup or light corn syrup
- Cream Puff Batter (Pate a Choux)
- 5 extra-large whole eggs
- 1 cup water
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 cup sifted unbleached flour (sift flour and then measure)
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water for egg wash
- To make the ice cream: Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed pot and bring gently to a boil over medium heat, being careful not to scorch it or allow it to boil over. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered. Remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, in the large bowl of an electric mixer, bet the egg yolks and sugar together at medium speed for 5 minutes.
- While eggs and sugar are beating, set up an ice bath: fill a large, deep bowl with ice. Pour in enough water to come halfway up the sides of the bowl. Make sure that when you place the saucepan in the water to chill the mixture, the water in the bowl doesn’t overflow and flood your kitchen!
- When the eggs have been beaten for 5 minutes, add several tbsp of the hot milk to the egg/sugar mixture to temper the eggs (raise their temperature slightly). Return the pot of milk to the stove and, over low heat, add the egg yolk/sugar mixture in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook 7 or 8 minutes, stirring constantly, until the custard has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
- Remove from heat and cool completely in the ice water bath. Stir in the bourbon, rum, and nutmeg. When the custard has cooled completely, add the heavy cream and freeze according to the directions for your ice cream maker. While the ice cream is freezing, make the Hot Fudge Sauce and the Pate a Choux for the cream puff shells.
- To make the Hot Fudge Sauce: Combine the chocolate and butter together in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, and heat over medium-low heat until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining ingredients until smooth.
- Increase heat to medium-high, return chocolate to the stove, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, continuing to whisk very often.
- Remove from the heat and let cool. Store in the refrigerator. Rewarm to thin before serving. Serve with profiteroles, over scoops of ice cream, or use as a dipping sauce for fruit or cookies!
- To make the Pate a Choux dough: preheat the oven to 425°F. Being careful not to break the yolks, break the eggs into a measuring cup or another container from which they can be poured one at a time, and set the container beside the stove.
- In a heavy-bottomed pot, bring the water, butter, salt, and sugar to a boil. When the liquid boils, stir in the flour all at once, using a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to low and stir vigorously for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture gathers into a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pot. Chefs call this "cooking the flour out." This cooks out the raw flour flavor. Pull the pot off the heat, drape with a clean kitchen towel, and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Transfer to the bowl of your mixer and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is completely absorbed by the flour before adding the next one. During this process, the mixture will take on a shiny gloss and become very elastic. Depending on the strength of your mixer (or arm) each egg can take up to a couple of minutes to incorporate. Make sure there are no bits of raw egg visible before you add the next egg. When ready to add the next one, the dough will be sticky, no slick with egg. When all of the eggs have been incorporated, remove from heat, place the mixture in a stainless-steel bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and cool completely.
- To make the profiteroles: Place dough into a pastry bag with a round medium tip, pipe out approximately 1 rounded tbsp batter for each profiterole onto a cookie sheet lined with a silpat or lightly buttered parchment, spacing them approximately 1 inch apart. If a bag and tip are unavailable, use a tablespoon to mound the batter on the parchment paper. Using a lightly dampened finger, smooth down any points on the tops so they won’t burn.
- Brush each profiterole lightly with the egg wash, place in the preheated oven and bake 15 minutes before reducing the temperature to 350°F. (Don’t open the oven door.) Bake until the puffs are golden brown, about 12 minutes more. They are done when crisp and golden on the outside and tender with a moist interior, but not wet or egg-y (break one open and see). If they are not done return them to the oven. Cool completely on wire racks.
- When they are cool, cut in half horizontally and fill with a small scoop of ice cream. As you fill each profiterole, place it on a baking sheet and hold in the freezer to keep the ice cream frozen until you are ready to serve.
- To serve: Place one profiterole on each plate (or several if they are small) drizzle with some Fudge or Caramel Sauce or a little of each, place the tops at an angle, and serve immediately. Pass additional sauce at the table.
- Yield: about 6 servings
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/ cup heavy whipping cream
- In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar and the water. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase to high heat and cook the mixture until it is golden amber in color. (Do not stir after you increase the heat.)
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in a few tablespoons of the cream. Let the caramel bubble and subside and then add a few more tablespoons of cream. Slowly add the rest of the cream and whisk until smooth.
- This sauce can be made several days in advance. Store in the refrigerator.
- Yield: about 1-1/2 cups
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 5 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.
- Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
- Stir the mixture constantly over the medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (170°F on an instant-read thermometer). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
- Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.)
- Yield: about 1 quart