Profiteroles & Chocolate Éclairs
Profiteroles (also known as Cream Puffs) and Éclairs are pastries made from a dough known as Choux dough, which is piped, baked and then filled with cream and covered with chocolate. They are crispy, light and delicious...and very easy to prepare.
First, prepare the Cream Filling and Chocolate Topping.
For Chocolate Topping
Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil (edges will start bubbling slightly). Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth, then let it cool slightly…about 5 minutes. Use as needed. If the chocolate stiffens you can microwave it for a few seconds to get it to a smooth consistency.
For Choux Dough
Grease a tray with butter and set it aside. Preheat oven to 200 C.
Next, prepare the Choux. Put the flour on a tray and warm it slightly, then sieve it onto a square piece of paper.
Put the water, butter, salt and sugar into a pan and bring to the boil. Make sure the butter is completely melted and the liquid is boiling. Remove from the heat and dump in all the flour in one go. Beat the mixture (even with an electric beater or a wooden spoon) until it comes together and is soft and smooth. Do not over-beat the mixture otherwise the butter will ooze out of the dough.
Let it begin to cool slightly then add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time and beat vigorously until the mixture resembles cream. Put the mixture into a piping bag (three-quarter inch opening) and allow it to cool completely.
Pipe 3-4" long shapes on the tray for the éclairs and 2" round balls for the profiteroles. Make sure you leave space all around as these will expand to double the original size.
Bake in the middle rack for 10 minutes then reduce the temperature to 170 and bake for another 10-15 minutes but keep an eye on them so they do not burn. Do NOT open the oven door during this time as this may cause the pastries to collapse. Once done, remove onto a wire rack and either slit the éclairs or poke a hole on the ends or bottom immediately. This helps retain crispiness as it allows the steam that builds up in the hollow inside the pastry to escape. Once all are slit/poked, put them back in the oven for another 4-5 minutes to dry them out completely.
Allow them to cool completely, then fill them up by piping the cream into them and dip them in the melted chocolate (or spread some melted chocolate on top). Let the chocolate set for a few minutes and serve immediately.
These pastries are best served fresh, so fill them up when you are ready to serve them otherwise they will go soft.