If you’ve never made pate a choux, the pastry dough used in cream puffs and profiteroles, you should try it, if only to give you a new respect for pastry chefs. I’d made it once years ago, and had kind of forgotten about the muscle it takes to beat flour into the dough with a wooden spoon.
My first attempt with this recipe (from Barefoot in Paris) resulted in a flat, runny, pancake-like mess. I knew it wasn’t right. The second time, though, I cooked the dough for a slightly longer time (maybe a minute), and added the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each one into the batter before adding the next, instead of adding all of the eggs at once. The recipe doesn’t specify that instruction, but I think it’s important. And they turned out!
I’m trying to make a Valentine’s Day metaphor out of all of this trying and re-trying, and I’m failing to connect the dots. Suffice it to say that I’m grateful that my valentine has the patience to wait for another batch when the first one doesn’t quite turn out. We usually tend to go low-key on February 14, celebrating at home and going out on another night. This year, we naively tried to go out to a restaurant with the kids, and we went really early, but the restaurant was packed, and the food was undercooked and the kids were cranky, so it become quickly apparent that we needed to make a swift exit.
We probably made the mistake of packing too much into one day. Our older son had no school today and neither of us was working, so we had family photos taken this morning (a Christmas gift from my parents), and then went to the LEGO movie this afternoon (Everything is Awesome!). It was a great day, but I think dinner was just too much to handle on top of all of that excitement. And so, the profiteroles waiting at home for us for dessert, along with the new season of House of Cards on Netflix, were just what we needed. Here are my loves, getting ready to go out before the movie. Even though the temps have climbed to the double digits, we still bundle up!
I made the profiteroles on the large side, so there are fewer than the 18 that the recipe should yield. They are light and airy, and a little bit like popovers, but without the special pan. These more than made up for our mediocre dinner experience!
It’s still hard to believe that I can make these with such simple ingredients: milk, butter, flour, eggs. For the chocolate sauce, I used milk chocolate instead of semisweet chocolate chips, and so cut the amount of honey in half. They were amazing, especially when shared with my sweetheart. They would make an impressive dessert for dinner guests, if you’re generous enough to share.