Well, thank god 2016 is almost over. It’s been a pretty weird year all round, but one that it is definitely going to be remembered, both publicly and personally. Aside from all the obvious bad news, there was some good to be found in places. I got married! And we moved onto the street I’d dreamt of living on since we first moved to Bath four years ago.
One year ago, on the 31st December 2015, I started this blog. My first ever post – these New Year Fortune Cookies – is now exactly one year old. And today’s recipe for my Salted Caramel Profiteroles is my 47th. That’s almost one recipe a week in 2016, which isn’t bad going for someone so notoriously bad at keeping to a schedule.
I can’t promise to maintain that level of new recipes into 2017, but I will do my very best to make sure that I everything I do post is something I am proud of and would genuinely recommend that you should bake. And that, I guess, is my WCB New Year’s resolution – quality over quantity.
I felt like I burnt myself out a bit in 2016, and started to feel like baking, and this blog, were becoming chores. And that’s not how I want to feel about my favourite hobby. So, after a little Christmas break, and some festive Bake Off inspiration, I got back in my tiny little kitchen and whipped up these salty and sweet little choux buns.
I’d only ever made choux pastry once before, back in a food tech lesson in the early 2000’s. But I wanted my return to the kitchen to be something a little bit special, and fitting of a ‘New Year’s Eve slash blog birthday’ post. And dessert is so my favourite part of any meal.
Confession: it did take one failed batch for me to get the recipe and oven temperature spot on. But, I’ve done the hard work now, so you don’t have to. Plus, if your pastry doesn’t quite rise as much as you want it to, filling it full of salted caramel cream, dipping it in a dark chocolate glaze, and drizzling it with salted caramel sauce will guarantee that no one notices.
I know what you’re thinking – choux pastry is hard, and you just aren’t sure you want to risk it. Well, if I can do it, with basically no experience, then so can you. If things are going to go wrong in the kitchen, they will happen to me. I think I’m cursed.
Just follow the recipe below exactly, and everything will be okay. Plus, I’ve even added some step-by-step photos underneath today’s recipe, so you can see what it’s supposed to look like at each stage. You will have to excuse the lighting, and the messy kitchen.
What ever you are all up to this New Year’s Eve, I hope you are ringing 2017 in with the people you love. We will be spending it the way we always do – board games, a tonne of chocolate, and trying to avoid an argument over the rules of Cluedo.
- 100g (1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 250ml (1 cup + 1 tablespoon) water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar (US granulated sugar)
- 150g (1¼ cups) plain or all-purpose flour, sifted
- 4 large eggs
- 600ml (2½ cups) double or heavy cream
- 200g (¾ cup) salted caramel sauce
- 100g (3.5 oz) dark or bittersweet chocolate
- 60g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 130g (approx. 2/3 cup) salted caramel sauce
- Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F (180°C fan), and line two large baking sheets with parchment or greaseproof paper. Set aside.
- Place the butter in a medium saucepan with the water, salt, and sugar, and heat on medium until the butter has completely melted. Keep on the heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture starts to bubble slightly.
- Remove from the heat and add the flour. Immediately beat the mixture together, and return to the heat. Keep beating and cooking on a medium temperature for 2 or 3 minutes, until the dough is stiff enough to hold a wooden spoon upright. The dough should have come away from the sides of the pan cleanly, and there may also be a slight oily sheen on the dough.
- Pour the dough into the bowl of your stand mixer, or another bowl, and leave for 10-15 minutes until cool.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with the stand mixer (on a medium-ow setting) or a wooden spoon until each egg is completely incorporated. The mixture will split when each egg is added, but will eventually come back together with enough beating - see pictures below. The dough should be glossy, hold stiff peaks when removing your wooden spoon from it, and hang off a wooden spoon or spatula in a 'V' shape.
- Pipe the dough onto the lined baking sheets using a piping bag, and a medium sized round nozzle. I like to pipe a little tiny bit of the mixture straight onto the baking sheet in each corner, and use this to stick the baking parchment down onto the baking sheet. This helps to make piping the batter easier, as the baking parchment remains still. My piped mounds of batter were about 5cm in diameter.
- If you have sticking up points on the top of your mounds, then dip your finger in some water and gently smooth the points down, as they will burn in the oven. Place the baking trays in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and crispy all over. Do not open the oven to check for readiness until at least 18 minutes in to the baking time, as this may cause the choux buns to collapse.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and immediately poke a hole in the bottom of each bun with a toothpick, and leave to cool upside down on a wire rack. The holes will help the steam to escape from the buns, making them more likely to dry out properly inside.
- Pour 120ml (½ cup) of the double or heavy cream into a small bowl, and add the 200g (¾ cup) of salted caramel sauce to it. Mix together using a spoon, until well combined. Set aside.
- Pour the remaining 480ml (2 cups) of double or heavy cream into a large bowl, and whip up to stiff peaks using a hand or electric whisk. Be careful not to over-whisk. Pour the salted caramel cream mixture from the smaller bowl into the whipped cream, and gently fold together, being careful not to knock the air out of it. If necessary, whip the mixture a little more to get a pipe-able consistency.
- Pipe the cream into the middle of the profiteroles using a piping bag and a small circle nozzle. Using the hole you made earlier in the bottom of each profiterole, place the end of the piping bag nozzle inside each profiterole, and fill with the cream. Place each profiterole down on a plate, with the hole at the bottom.
- Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in the microwave (stirring every 15 seconds to avoid burning) or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, add the butter, and stir. If the butter doesn't melt entirely, place the bowl back in the microwave for 10 seconds, and stir again.
- Dip each profiterole in the chocolate glaze, and then leave to set. Once set, drizzle with salted caramel sauce - i used a piping bag for this.
- The choux pastry batter can be stored in a jug in the fridge for up to a week - make sure to cover with cling film or plastic wrap. Then remove from the fridge, pipe, and bake.
- The un-filled baked profiteroles can be stored for 1 or 2 days in an airtight container. If they go slightly soft, pop back in a 200°C oven for 5 minutes or so to crisp up.
- Once the profiteroles have been filled and glazed, they should be served immediately, or kept in the fridge for an hour or so before eating.
Step by Step photos:
Melt the butter with the water in the saucepan over a medium heat. As soon as it starts to bubble (right) then remove from the hob.
Add the sifted flour to the saucepan, and immediately beat well with a wooden spoon. Return to the heat.
Keep beating the dough until it is stiff enough to hold a wooden spoon upright (above left). There should also be a slight oily sheen to the outside of the dough. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes, and then beat in one egg at a time. The eggs will not incorporate at first and the mixture will split (above right). Keep beating, and it will come back together.
Once all four eggs have been beaten in to the batter, it will look like a glossy, sticky paste (above left). It should hang off a spatula in a V shape, and should also hold stiff peaks in the bowl. Pipe onto a lined baking tray, leaving a gap between each mound, as the buns will puff up in the oven.
Dip your finger in water, and dap the tops of the mounds down to get rid of any points, otherwise the tops of the buns will burn in the oven (above left). The profiteroles are baked once they have turned a golden brown colour and are crispy all over.