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Bitter Sweets: Bon Voyage Profiteroles

What, you wanted green, healthy, resolution-friendly things? Bahahaha… Ok, while we’ve definitely made the transition to a new year and I’ll probably be eating nothing but sweet potatoes between now and swimsuit season, the parties must go on. In this case, a going away dinner for a friend who’s inconsiderately decided to abscond to Spain, South America, and London for the next few years. Boo.

But this is the way of things, I suppose, and I often find myself preparing one last dinner for the latest person to embark on a new far-flung adventure. Of course, what better way to ensure a friend’s return than a really delicious send-off? For this bon voyage, I elected to make mushroom and butternut squash (not to be confused with carrot, ahem) risotto followed by arugula salad with shallot vinaigrette and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. I wanted a fun and special dessert to cap the meal, but it also couldn’t be a multi-day production–which, let’s be real, I generally enjoy but simply didn’t have the time for.

I immediately thought of these profiteroles–puffs of crisp and tender choux pastry filled with frosty ice cream and topped with warm chocolate sauce. I’d made them over Christmas and they were pretty much universally adored. What’s more, these  ”yummy nubbins” are far easier to whip up than one might suspect… and hopefully good enough to at least merit the odd postcard.

Risotto and profiteroles all in one meal makes for a good bit of stirring, that’s for sure, but neither are that difficult and both add a certain a la minute flair if your guests enjoy a bit of kitchen theatre.

Ice cream flavor is up to you. I’d think that coffee, peppermint stick, or one of those newfangled dulce de leche would be particularly tasty with the chocolate sauce. So too might orange sherbet, actually… The possibilities are endless, especially if you have an ice cream maker.

Yield: ~24 profiteroles, 6 servings

Choux paste
(Joy of Cooking)

1 c flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
1 c milk
1/3 c butter
4-5 eggs, at room temperature (isn’t this obnoxious? I used 4 1/2 large eggs and it came out fine…)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Sift flour, salt, and sugar together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a heavy pan, bring the milk and butter to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately dump in the flour mixture all at once and decrease the heat to medium. Stir energetically with a wooden spoon to bring the dough together. The dough will smooth out and come away from the sides of the pan in two minutes or so. When it does, scrape the dough into a large bowl and let  cool 2 min. Add the first and and beat with a wooden spoon. The dough will break and then come back together. Once it does, repeat with the remaining eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.

Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a large tube tip and pipe 24 mounds a bit bigger than golf balls onto the parchment-lined cookie sheets (12 per sheet). Bake at 400° for 10 minutes, decrease the oven temperature to 350° and bake an additional 25-30 minutes, until puffed and deeply golden brown.

Remove from oven and transfer the puffs to a rack to cool a few minutes. Using a serrated knife, split the puffs in half horizontally and gently pull out any wet doughy bits (particularly in the top half). Set aside until ready to serve.

1 qt. quality ice cream
chocolate sauce

Just prior to serving, fill the bottom of each puff with a small scoop of ice cream, replace the top, and spoon over some warm chocolate sauce. Serve immediately.

Rombauer, Irma S. and Marion Rombauer Becker. The Joy of Cooking. (New York: Plume) 1975.

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