Profiteroles are one of those show-off, special-occasion dishes that restaurants include on their menus as a way to both wow diners and remind them that restaurant cooking is different -- better, fancier, more complex -- than at-home cooking. I've always loved profiteroles, loved the production of having them served to me, loved the waterfall of chocolate sauce, and loved the perfect combo of cold ice cream and hot pastry shell (word to chefs everywhere: never, ever serve profiteroles with cold pastry shells).
For the edification of us all, Mark Bittman has demonstrated that profiteroles can, in fact, be made at home with minimal trouble, and can be just as delicious and special as those served in restaurants. I tried them out and can attest to the fact that the recipe really works. Trust me, and give them a try for your next special occasion.
Mark Bittman's Profiteroles
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
2. Put the butter and salt in a saucepan with 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil and stir until the butter melts. Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour. Keep stirring, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the saucepan and forms a ball (approximately 30 seconds). Remove from the heat and let cool (approximately 3-4 minutes).
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Scoop or pipe the batter onto the baking sheet, making batter mounds that are 1 inch high and 1-2 inches across (roughly). Leave 1 inch of space between mounds.
4. Bake until puffed and golden (approximately 20-25 minutes). Remove from the oven and pierce the bottom of each profiterole. Then return them to the oven, prop the door open, and let the profiteroles crisp for 3 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them cool as desired. Serve with ice cream, fruit, jam, etc.
Image credit: New York Times profiteroles video screenshot