Tuesday, 12 March 2013

This post was supposed to be on one of the three croquembouches I made for Christmas, but I didn't get to take any good photos of either the process or the final result - stunning profiterole towers drizzled  with golden strings of toffee and silver cachous or plump raspberries. This one is an Instagram photo.

The first time, it was too hot and the toffee strings kept melting off and by the time it was cool enough to set nicely, the light had gone. This is the only photo that I had of Croquembouche #1, the baby one I made for Christmas dinner with my group of girls from school.

The second and third ones were assembled  at other people's houses, so I felt weird about a) bringing my big camera and b) taking photo every five seconds when there were guests milling about and four other courses to be prepared.

And yes, I know you're thinking, Christmas? I just forgot to finish posting this when I wrote it in the beginning of January. Whoops!

Anyway. For now this will be a very detailed post on how to make deliciously crisp and airy profiteroles.

Profiteroles were something I had been dying to make with my new KitchenAid, because making them by hand is possible but so tedious. Choux pastry is a cooked dough, unlike other pastries. The steam that forms when the pastry is in the oven makes it rise, so it doesn't need any other leavener. The most important thing I've learned from making choux is that the mixture needs to be cool enough before adding the eggs (otherwise you'll get scrambled eggs). So the KitchenAid was definitely handy! I also had this cookie press I got for Christmas last year that I handn't used yet and decided would be perfect for this task.

Choux Pastry
Makes 30 profiteroles, or 12 eclairs

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 11/2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 125g plain flour, sifted
  • 150ml water
  • 60g unsalted butter, chopped, at room temperature
  • 3-4 large eggs, lightly whisked

Combine the salt, sugar and flour in a bowl.

Put the cubes of butter into a large saucepan.

Add the water to the buter and then slowly bring to a boil. The butter should melt before it comes to a boil.


When the liquid starts to bubble, quickly remove from the heat. Add in the flour, all at once, and stir vigorously until combined.

Return the saucepan to low heat, and stir continuously for a few minutes. It's ready when it becomes smooth and thick and comes away easily from the side of the pan. As soon as it gets to that stage, stop, otherwise you will overbeat it, and it won't rise properly.

Transfer it into the bowl of your mixer (or if you are going to be doing it by hand, like I used to, then just a bowl! Let it cool until its warm before you start beating by hand) and then set it aside to cool for 10-20 minutes. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment (I love how this has one squidgy side! Makes me happy).

Start beating the mixture on low before adding in your egg, one egg at a time. Beat each egg until it's mixed in well before adding the second egg.

Continue beating in the egg until the mixture is thick and glossy. You may not need all of the egg, because it depends on the type of flour and all sorts of other things. When you cut through the mixture with a spatula, it should fold in onto itself, and should drip heavily from the beaters. 


Fill your piping bag or special cookie press, like I did. If you're using a piping bag use a plain 1cm nozzle. If you aren't going to make the pastry straight away, you can keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week, or frozen for a month.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, or 180 degrees fan forced. Line a flat tray with baking paper. The puffs should be about 2.5cm wide, although you can make eclairs by making a long line. Usually I would draw circles onto a sheet of paper to use as a guide, but this time I had a much better idea! I used a stripy tea towel and put baking paper on it and piped until each edge touched the side of the lines. Look how perfectly shaped they are! I'm a little bit proud. Then I used a fork dipped in some beaten egg to flatten the top of the puffs to get rid of the tips. You can also use a wet finger, but I found the egg made the profiteroles nice and golden and shiny when they came out of the oven.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the they are puffed. Reduce the temperature to 160 degrees (140 degrees fan forced), swap the trays around, and bake for 15 more minutes until they are golden and have dried. Transfer to a wire rack and cool, before filling with creme patissiere! Then eat!

Creme Patissiere
Makes 2 2/3 cups

  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 250 ml/ 1 cup milk
  • 250 ml/ 1 cup pouring/whipping/thickened cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 150g/ 2/3 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  1. Put the milk, cream and vanilla into a saucepan over medium heat. When it starts to simmer, remove fromt he heat. 
  2. Whisk the yolks and sugar until thick and pale. 
  3. Sift the flour and cornflour and then stir it into the yolk mixture until it is combined and smooth.
  4. Pour half the milk mixture into the yolk, and stir until smooth. Repeat with the remaining milk.
  5. Put the mixture into a clean saucepan. Keep whisking while bringing the mixture slowly to the boil over medium heat. When it boils, reduce to a simmer, and keep whisking for a few minutes. It should be thick and smooth (and delicious when you try it). 
  6. Remove from the heat and transfer to a clean glass or metal bowl. Cut a circle of baking paper and put it on the surface of the creme patissiere. This stops it from forming a skin. Allow to cool until room temperature, then whisk until smooth. You can keep it for 2 days in an airtight container in the fridge. 
Here are some shots of toffee dipping and assembling (:

xx gee


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