This recipe made 12 large profiteroles. Next time I am planning to make them half size, so you can eat them in one bite.
Preheat oven at 400 degrees F ( 200 Celsius)
Step 1: making the shells:
1/2 cup milk or water ( I prefer milk)
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract ( I put vanilla in everything, you can skip this if you want)
1 tablespoon sugar
small pinch of salt
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg, beaten, to brush the shells
In a medium sauce pan put over medium heat the milk, vanilla and butter and bring to a simmer. Careful not to keep it too long, just until you see small bubbles on the edge. You don't want to evaporate to much water.
Remove from heat, add all the flour, salt and sugar at once, and mix well with a wooden spoon, until you get a ball of dough. Put back on heat, mixing continuously, for about 2-3 minutes. It will look like this:
Remove from heat and let it cool, until they are not steamy anymore. you can speed the process by keeping mixing it with the wooden spoon.
When they are cool enough, slowly add the egg, in 3 batches, mixing very well after each. Before adding the last batch, make sure to check that the dough has the right consistency. You need it to be hard enough to keep it's shape, but soft enough to drop from the spoon if you lift it.
If the dough is soft enough, you might not add all the egg. But in my experience the whole 2 eggs is just the right amount. You will get a soft dough looking like this:
Using 2 spoons, place dollops of dough on a cooking sheet covered with parchment paper. I just used my cupcake pan. No idea why. The dough will get 3-4 times bigger while backing, so make sure you let about 2 inches space between them. It is quite easy to shape them any way you want, but you can also use a piping bag as well. You can make them round, like profiteroles or cream puffs, or longer, like eclairs. Brush the top with beaten egg. You can shape them and smooth the surface during this step, with the help of the brush.
Bake at 400 F for 12 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 330 F ( 170 Celsius) and bake for 25 minutes more. Depending on the size of the shells you made, reduce or increase the baking time, with about 5 minutes. They are ready when they are amber colored, puffed up, and hard, with a dry center.
When the baking time ends, prick them with a toothpick, or make a small cut with a knife, to let the steam escape, so the center does not get humid. You can let them cool in the oven, with the door slightly open.
Step 2: make the vanilla cream, also called creme patisserie, for filling
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks
seeds of a vanilla bean, or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons sugar
Heat the milk just until it gets steamy. Add the vanilla seeds/extract. While the milk warms up, combine egg yolks, sugar and corn starch and mix until smooth. Add half of the milk on top of the egg mixture, and whisk constantly, then pour this on top of the rest of the milk in the sauce pan, continuing to whisk, over medium-low heat, for about 2 minutes, until you get a smooth thick custard. Let it cool, place plastic wrap on top, not to form a crust. Chill before filling the shells.
Step 3: fill the shells
With a small sharp knife make a small cut on the side of the shells. Put the creme patisserie in a piping bag. Insert the tip of the bag in the cut you made, and fill the shells with cream. You can also cut the shells in half and just spoon in the cream, for an easier approach.
Step 4: make the chocolate frosting
I like to frost the profiteroles with chocolate ganache. You can use dark, milk or even white chocolate, or why not even a combination of the three.
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
5 oz good quality chocolate, cut in small pieces, or buy it granulated.
Heat the heavy cream just until it starts bubbling on the edges of the sauce pan. Pour the chocolate on top, letting them melt for 5 minutes. Mix it well until you get a glossy smooth chocolate ganache.
Now you can just dip the profiteroles in the ganache, or spoon the ganache on top of them. Using a piping bag you can also make different designs if you feel creative. It will taste awesome no matter what.
You can also serve them with ice cream: in a bowl place 2-3 profiteroles with 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream, and pour some hot ganache or other chocolate sauce on top. It is divine!
Fill them with Chantilly cream (1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped with 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar) instead of creme patisserie and you get cream puffs.
These shells can also be filled with cream cheese frosting, cream cheese and herbs, salmon cream... anything really.
These are easier to make than it may seem, so go ahead!