Monday, December 27, 2010

Profiteroles au Chocolat

Part of me is really missing my West coast family this holiday season. I was able to soothe myself somewhat by preparing some of the dishes we've enjoyed together this Christmas Eve for my mom and my Monster. When I was growing up Christmas Eve was a night that, if I was with my dad, would have always been spent with my Muttie, Aunties, Uncles and great cousins, and it typically ended with profiteroles filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with a goodly amount of love-filled chocolate sauce. Mmmm.
All I can say is that it's been too, too long since I've gotten to spend that special night with all those wonderful people but, making this dessert helped to take me back...just enough.

The recipe is in my copy of our family cookbook, put together 20 years ago by my step-monster.
Many thanks to her for doing so, as I still go to it for comfort from time to time.
Maybe it's time for me to start working on a new edition for Christmas next year? It would be wonderful to see how our collective "favorites" have changed over the years.
I put my own little spin on the chocolate sauce this year, since we were having tamales for dinner. A touch of cinnamon and a little almond extract in the sauce made it really special and just a little south of the border.

The profiteroles can be made ahead and frozen in a freezer Ziplock bag for up to a month.
I made the chocolate sauce right before serving, but I think it could be stored in a wide-mouth jar in the freezer and spooned out at will. Will have to test this theory. :-)

Profiteroles au Chocolat:
(Butler Family Cookbook; compiled by Antoinette Butler 1991)

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup (4TB) butter
1/2 boiling water
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 425.
Heat water to boiling in a heavy saucepan (I used a 3 quart pot).
Add butter, stir to melt.
Reduce heat and add flour all at once, stirring rapidly with a wooden spoon until incorporated.
Remove from heat.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
Beat the mixture until it's satiny and breaks off when spoon is raised.
Drop mixture from a teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet in about 1 inch mounds (I used my Air Bake insulated non-stick cookie sheets with great success, I think parchment paper would be a good idea if you don't have these, but don't use butter or spray as it will interfere with the rise of your cream puffs).
Bake ~20 minutes until golden brown.
Cool them completely on a baking rack.
At this point you can either serve them by cutting off the tops and filling them with vanilla ice cream and topping with warmed chocolate sauce, or you can freeze them.
If freezing, place them in a large Ziplock freezer bag and place the bag flat on a cookie sheet that will fit in your freezer. Once frozen you can take the sheet out from under them.
To serve from freezer, place them on a baking sheet in a 350 oven for about 8-10 minutes to crisp them up again.

Chocolate Sauce
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
5 Tb butter (I had unsalted, but I added a pinch of fine sea salt to the mix)
3 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 cup undiluted evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)

Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan (make sure you use a large enough pan that your sauce won't boil over. I made 1.5x this recipe and had to change pots midway!)
Remove from heat.
Add sifted confectioners sugar alternately with the evaporated milk; blending well after each addition.
Return to heat and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly.
Cook and stir until mixture becomes thick and creamy, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla (and if you want to do what I did, ~1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and a small amount ~1/8-1/4 tsp? almond extract).
Serve warm.

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