[Hey yo, it's Jen from use real butter. I rarely guest post on other blogs because I have a hell of a time just kicking my own blog along... but when girlfriend asked me to do her a solid, how could I say no? I could not.]
I know for a fact that when people guest post on Thursday Night Smackdown, they get a little giddy with the cussing… and with good reason. Michelle is no run-of-the-mill potty mouth, she is a connoisseur. She is one of the few people I know who has put her liberal arts education to eloquent and awe-inspiring use. It’s like spending the night at your friend’s house where their parents allow profanity and your parents don’t. There is truth to this analogy, more than you know. Ever since my parents started reading my blog and telling their friends about it, I’ve had to reign in the foul language. But my potty mouth is rather pedestrian in comparison to Michelle’s. Thursday Night Smackdown makes me laugh like no other blog because the woman is hi-larious and not just online.
I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle in person last year at BlogHer Food ’09 in San Francisco. After eating next to nothing at lunch (two words: frozen dinners) and then hitting the open bar after the conference for an assortment of martinis on the roof of the St. Regis, I found myself busting a gut with Michelle as dusk settled on that fine city. I’m not totally clear on what we were talking about (martini haze), but I recall shouting from the rooftop that where we stood was The Critical Mass of Fucking Awesomeness. I even tweeted it and asked why you weren’t there. Well, why weren’t you? No more martinis for me, that’s for sure. So here we are, together again (but in a virtual way) and thus I’ve dubbed our combined online presence The Vortex of Fucking Awesomeness (please refer to the title) because Michelle is appropriately awesome and I like fluid dynamics.
What we have here is the humble beginning of the profiterole. We make a choux paste that is essentially melted butter and water, with flour stirred in until it resembles something from an elementary school exercise. Then you add eggs one at a time and stir like crazy. The choux paste slips around and looks like it will never amount to anything, but eggs are amazing in that they eventually blend in and you are rewarded with a thick and glossy batter.
Pour that batter into a pastry bag with a plain wide tip. I suppose you could use a fancy fluted tip. I am not a fan of the fancy fluted tip, but that’s just me. Pipe little rounds onto some parchment-lined baking sheets.
Don’t worry if the dough spreads, it will puff up nicely when you bake it.
Meanwhile, get your mise en place (mess in place) to make pastry cream. If there is one thing that has made me cuss a lot (that’s a metric measure) in my kitchen, it is pastry cream. That’s crème patisserie for you Frenchies. I am forever on the prowl for a good pastry cream recipe that can hold a shape. That’s all I ask. It doesn’t matter as much in this recipe, but it’s nice to not have your profiteroles leaking pastry cream as if they had some sort of… infection.
This pastry cream recipe comes from my good friend, Helen of Tartelette. She is badass. Also a card carrying member of The Vortex of Fucking Awesomeness.
While the little puffs of dough are cooling, fill a pastry bag fitted with a narrow tip with pastry cream. The inside of each puff is mostly hollow, but the dough can make some interesting internal structures creating little chambers. After having a chamber fill up and squirt pastry cream all over the floor, I remedied the problem by jamming a chopstick into the side of each puff and swiping it back and forth to truly hollow out each puff. Take care not to overfill the puff. The danger of overfilling the puffs was illustrated numerous times when one of us would bite into a profiterole and pastry cream went shooting out the other end. This is to be expected when dealing with incompressible fluids. That was some serious trajectory.
Once the puffs are all filled, we do a little dippy dippy in the chocolate glaze.
My dog, Kaweah, was wondering what the difference is between a profiterole and a cream puff. There is no difference. They’re the same damn thing. I only figured that out ten minutes ago (thanks Wikipedia!). I guess I grew up with a white trash version of the cream puff where the pastry cream was instant vanilla pudding folded with Cool Whip and instead of injecting the filling, the puff was sliced in half and sandwiched around a dollop of the pudding-non-dairy whipped topping hybrid. This version is muuuuuuch better.
from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics Book 2
1 cup (8 oz) water
3 1/2 oz (100g) butter, chopped
3/4 cup flour, sifted
chocolate ganache glaze
2 tbsps cornstarch
2 tbsps sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 tbsp vanilla
Whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, and egg yolks in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the half and half until smooth. Heat the remaining cup of half and half in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Slowly pour the hot cream over the egg mixture while continuously whisking. Pour everything back into the saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 5 minutes). Strain the custard through a sieve and then stir in the vanilla. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface and let cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
chocolate ganache glaze
8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
6 oz heavy cream
The proper way to do this is to heat the cream over medium-high heat until just boiling (but not boiling). Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for a minute. Stir until smooth and velvety. My lazy way is to heat the cream on medium heat and when it’s warm, toss in the chocolate and stir until it’s all melted. I’m a bum.
Make the puffs: Preheat oven to 400°F. Place water and butter in a saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted and the liquid begins to simmer. Toss in the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth. Stir over low heat until the dough begins to pull from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Beat in the eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition until the egg is completely incorporated into the dough. Fill a piping bag with the dough mixture and pipe or drop approximately 3 teaspoons of the mixture onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the puffs turn golden. Turn off the oven and keep the door slightly ajar (shove a wooden spoon between the door and the oven) and let the profiteroles remain inside for another 15 minutes or until they are hollow sounding when tapped. Remove to wire racks to cool.
Assembly: Fill a piping bag with the filling of your choice (something creamy like the pastry cream in this recipe, or whipped cream, mousse) and push the pastry tip through the base or side of the profiterole and squeeze enough filling into the pastry to fill it. Dip the top of each profiterole in the chocolate glaze and allow to set. Makes 3 dozen.