Profiteroles are not hard to make and if you have time you can impress your guests with some beautiful and simple decoration that will make it even more special.
All you have to do is make the dough which is called Pâte à choux and then decide if you want to make the chocolate ganache and homemade vanilla ice cream from scratch or if you will buy chocolate sauce and ice cream in the market.
What do you need to know to make sure you get good results:
1) Always use good quality chocolate, such as Valrhoma, Cacao Barry or Callebaut.
2) Be patient and take your time. You will not get excellent results if you only have half an hour to make this look good.
3) Use good quality ice cream as well if using the industrial version and if making your own, use vanilla bean, it makes a whole lot of difference.
4) You will need pastry bags for this recipe. It's preferable to use plastic disposable bags so there is no bacteria growth accumulation from each use. You don't need to use a tip, but you'll get better results if you use a round tip number 10.
5) If you attempt to make the swan: you will need 2 cornets (mini cones made of parchment paper) and icing sugar for sprinkling onto the wings. To make the cornet just follow the instructions on this website: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Paper-Cone-or-Cornet-for-Icing
I'm giving you the 3 recipes and it's up to you to take the challenge. Here we go.
Start with Pâte à Choux
125 ml water
125 ml milk
100 g butter (in cubes)
5 g salt
5 g sugar
162 g flour (all purpose)
5 eggs (approximately)
1- In a saucepan, add water, milk, butter, salt and sugar. Let it come to a boil and take the pan off the heat.
2- Add flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. Back on the heat, keep mixing and pressing the dough into the wall of the pan until it gets dry. It should all come together and not stick to the bottom of the pan anymore. Turn off the heat, pour dough into a bowl and reserve.
3- Break the eggs and mix them with a fork.
4- Pour half the egg mixture into dough and mix well with a wooden spoon until completely incorporated.
5- Keep adding the egg mixture, little by little and mixing well until the right consistency.
To check the consistency: run a finger through the dough making a long line. If dough comes together fast, closing the line, it's ready. If not, keep adding egg.
6- Reserve the leftover egg mix for brushing dough before baking (egg wash).
7- Grease 2 big baking trays and a small one.
8- Fill a pastry bag with the batter and use a round tip number 10.
9- Start piping medium balls onto greased tray, leaving about 1 inch of space between them.
10- Keep on doing so until all the batter is used.
You can also make éclairs by piping lines (like the ones I did in the pictures below) and fill them with pastry cream after they are baked and have cooled down.
For the swan's body: Pipe making a drop shape. Start with a ball and pull the bag at the end creating a tail.
For the swan's neck and face: fill a cornet with batter and make a very small whole (about 1 cm in diameter). Pipe a letter S and then a very small drop shape at the beginning of the S, to make the face. (as seen on the first pic). Pipe more than one to make sure you will have at least one good. Bake it separately as it is very small and it will bake faster than the rest of the batter. (Use the small tray for this ones).
You can also pipe any kind of design for extra decorations (as seen on pic below).
11- Brush some of the egg mixture (egg wash) onto piped batter and run a fork (delicately) through the top of the éclairs and for the balls (profiteroles) press fork down delicately on both directions creating a criss cross.
12- Bake at 400F for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown. It really depends on the kind of oven you have, we all know each oven is different, so don't panic if it takes longer. Make sure the inside is completely cooked before taking them out of the oven, don't be afraid of going a little dark on the outside. If you don't cook the inside properly it will be soggy.
Vanilla Ice Cream
250 ml milk
125 ml cream (35%)
60 g sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
1- Cut in half the vanilla bean and remove all the seeds. Add both the seeds and the stick to a pan with milk and cream.
For better instructions on how to use a vanilla bean go to this link: http://zoebakes.com/2011/03/08/how-to-use-a-vanilla-bean/
2- Add half the sugar to the liquids and let it simmer.
3- Mix well the other half of sugar with the yolks.
4- Pour half the liquid into the yolks and mix well. Pour the yolk mixture back into the pan and keep cooking it, stirring constantly until it reaches 85 degrees Celsius. Or until mixture coats the back of a spoon.
5- Remove the vanilla bean stick and pour the mixture into a bowl inside another bowl filled with ice to stop the cooking process. Let it cool completely.
6- Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and voilà, you have delicious vanilla ice cream in about 25 minutes!
250 g Semi sweet Chocolate (more than 50% cocoa paste)
250 ml Cream (35%)
1- Heat cream to a simmer and pour over chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) and mix well with a spatula (not a whisk - you don't want to add air and create bubbles) in a circular motion from the center until completely homogeneous. Set aside.
Keep it in the fridge and reheat it in the microwave for a few seconds whenever you want to use it again.
Directions for assembling the profiteroles
1- Once the balls of dough have cooled down, cut them in half.
2- Add a scoop of ice cream to each ball and put the lid back on.
3- Cover them with chocolate ganache and enjoy.
For the swan: Cut the drop shaped dough into half horizontally. Cut the lid (top part) in half vertically to make the wings. Sprinkle icing sugar onto both wings. Add a scoop of ice cream to the bottom part and place the wings into the ice cream with the tip of the drop following the tail. Then, add the neck and face to the ice cream. Do it on the plate because it might be too fragile to move afterwards.