On my first trip to Paris, I was met with the soggy grey weather of November. I was on my way to Nuremberg for business and decided to take a weekend detour through Paris. I was there with a colleague who took the reins planning most of the details of our quick tour of the city of lights. We visited most of the tourist sites including the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Versailles, but it was a Saturday evening that I had on my own that was most memorable.
Drizzling and cold, I bundled up and walked my way over to Notre Dame. I was freezing but the wet streets amplified the beauty of Paris at night. Walking across a bridge over the Seine, I paused to take it all in and then made my way to the cathedral for the evening service.
Sitting in such a historical building, where the construction began in 1160 on the site of the 4th century Paris cathedral, Saint-Étienne, I couldn’t help but wonder how many prayers, wishes, joys and sorrows had been expressed within these gothic walls and I was deeply moved.
When I left Notre Dame it was pouring rain so I found a little bistro and had a coffee and dessert. Even though I was alone that evening, it felt like the perfect Paris experience, the moody weather, walking along the Seine, an evening service at Notre Dame and then, a profiterole au chocolat.
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup water
4 large eggs
6 tablespoons butter
1/8 tsp salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pint vanilla ice cream
Chocolate Sauce (recipe below or store bought)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees with one rack placed on the upper third of the oven and another in the lower third. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Heat water, butter, sugar and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan bringing it just to a simmer.
Remove from the heat and quickly mix the flour in one go. Stir vigorously and blend thoroughly. Continue to stir over med-high heat for 2 to 5 minutes, until the mixture separates from the sides of the pan forming one mass, and it begins to film the bottom of the pan (this process is very important as it cooks the flour and removes moisture). Remove from heat.
Create a well in the middle of the paste and break an egg into it. Stir for a few seconds until the egg is incorporated and continue to add the rest of the eggs in the same manner. Mix until smooth and shiny.
To create small puffs
Drop the paste on the baking sheet with a spoon or pipe with pastry bag (with 1/2-inch round tube opening) into mound about an inch in diameter and half an inch high, 2 inches apart.
Place the sheets in the preheated oven, one on each rack, and bake for about 10 minutes then rotate pans and reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes, or until they puffs have doubled in size, become gold brown, and are firm and crusty to the touch. Take them out of the oven. Using a sharp knife, pierce the side of each puff to prevent the crusty outside from getting soggy. Return the baking sheets to the now turned off oven, with the door ajar, and leave for 10 minutes. Continue to cool the puffs on a cooling rack.
Assembling the Profiteroles
Cut puffs across the top and place a scoop of vanilla ice cream on bottom half of puff. Place the top over the ice cream and drizzle with warm chocolate sauce.
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a small saucepan over low heat, heat chocolate chips and whipping cream, stirring constantly. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and sauce is smooth. Stir in vanilla.
Freezing unfilled puffs: Wait for the puffs to completely cool before freezing. Just place in plastic bags. Warm it up in a 425 degree oven for 3 to 4 minutes to thaw and crisp before serving.