welcome to the vortex of fucking awesomeness

[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
4 eggs
pastry cream
chocolate ganache glaze

pastry cream
from Tartelette

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.

29 thoughts on “welcome to the vortex of fucking awesomeness

  1. Your title is rather apt as these *were* fucking awesome! We called them cream puffs. Ms. M said the cream was reminiscent of panna cotta (huh?). I only got one teeny bite. She ate the rest, making sure there was zero spillage.

  2. Yep we called them cream puffs. The first time I made them they were more like pancakes…but I was only 12. Guess I was scarred for life as I rarely make them now. Yours look terrific Jen.

  3. My grandmother was that way with her cream puffs. She’d make the dough and then just fill them with instant pudding. It took a few tries of making them on my own before I got them right. Julia Child nudged me in the right direction for my first ever successful cream puffs.

    Adding a little rum to your pastry cream truly ups the awesomeness.

  4. Yeah, I’m of the whack them in half and fill them with ice cream variety. But that’s yummy when it’s peppermint ice cream at Christmastime. I’m going to have to try squirting them next time.

  5. I really feel like a total prude here LOL. Despite the omnipresence of profanity haha, this was a lovely post! I love your photos and description of profiteroles. I’ve made these before, but you’ve just convinced me to make them again. Thanks for renewing the awesomeness factor for these and for you. You rock!!

  6. TNS + URB (definitely) = a vortex of fucking awesomeness! usually, i’m quite intimidated if i see “a” recipe that really is “three” recipes, but you make it look doable.

  7. Infected profiteroles?! Ok, I still want to make them…haven’t done it in years. This might even get my child who doesn’t cook helping me in the kitchen. And the child who does cook will be right there hoping for some pastry cream to come shooting in his direction.

  8. Michelle or Brian – please add these profiteroles to the list of foods I must eat immediately after this kid is here and I can once again consumer sugar and carbs.

  9. All right, I was hesitating about sounding prissy about definitions, but then I read “please bestow your words of wisdom upon us that we may bask… etc.” and I figured OK, you asked for it: in France profiteroles are usually filled with ice-cream (possibly whipped cream) and served with a runnier chocolate sauce. Be that as it may, I have the same look on my face as Kaweah. I want some!

  10. This post made me want to eat some fucking profiteroles but even more, it made me want to guest post some shit on TNS.

    I want to write like a sailor too!

  11. When I saw the word ‘profiteroles’ on my RSS feed for URB I want Ooooh already, and your cream puffs look awesome! And this post did make me laugh alot – I’m glad I entered the vortex of f***ing awesomeness :)

  12. Hmmm…Thank you for these “Choux a la creme”! That’s my favorite way to eat those suckers. Was the pastry cream recipe alright? Can’t remember which version I gave you (it’s a bit of an ongoing research I have to make the one I like best – never happy)
    Love this post Jen and Michelle and I love to see Miss K!


  13. My late mother made these at Christmas for decades, with the addition of whipped cream, a maraschino cherry, and a sprig of fresh mint. It was the first sweet that my granddaughter was allowed to have. She couldn’t talk yet, and we have a picture of her licking her plate clean. Love these.

  14. Damn, do they look good! I have so little time to check out you foodies…It all started with URB, onto Tartelette and,well this site is lookin’ like another one to check into on a regular basis. You chicks rock!

  15. Awesome post Jen! A mix of engineering, fluid dynamics, profanity and sugar and spice (spice being chocolate). I agree that the pastry cream can be difficult and downright weird sometimes. I’d like to try your (Helene’s) recipe for it.
    P.S. Kaweah is much more patient than my dog. Mine would have snarfed them up before the picture could be taken.

  16. recipe bookmarked. i wouldn’t trust wikipedia as far as i could i throw it though. these are cream puffs. profiteroles are choux pastry cut in half with ice cream in the middle.

    none the less, these look DELICIOUS

  17. These looked absolutely AMAZING! I just wanted to tell you, if you’re still looking for a good pastry cream, there is an awesome one here:

    chocolate pastry cream:
    450 ml/2 cups milk
    6 egg yolks
    115g/4 oz/½ cup granulated sugar
    50g/2 oz/½ cup all purpose flour
    150g/5oz plain semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
    115 ml/4 fl oz/ ½ cup whipping cream

    It is from http://cafechocolada.blogspot.com/2009/01/chocolate-cream-puffs.html which is a fantastic blog.

    I will so make your profiteroles as soon as possible!

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