If you live in London and love a bit of window shopping, I bet you would have come across Caffe Concerto on Regent Street with its stunning window display. Every time I walk past this Italian Brasserie, I just had to stop, gawk and be stunned..the arrays of desserts with towers and towers of gold leaf decorated profiteroles, wedding cakes with fancy chocolate plastiques and bouquet of fresh flowers between the multiple tiers are such a showstopper. With upcoming loved ones' birthdays around the corner, I actually went in to the cafe recently to find out if they could do a mini profiteroles tower for me. No, not for weddings I say, just a small family function.
I was quoted a £600 for a profiterole tower (!!!), in a very casual tone, "It comes with golden leaves, Madame". This obviously took me aback and I had to decline placing an order on this occassion. All the way back home, all I could think was how could such an easy choux pastry tower be that expensive, even with the fancy schmancy gold leaf? Better be a 24 carat leaf then, heh.
Few weeks later, engrossed in one of my baking moments, or shall I say pastry moments, I decided to make the profiteroles myself. Not with the fancy schmancy gold obvously, and not that towering either for just the
two three of us, but fancy enough that I even made the Chantilly cream and toffee sauce to go with it. Usually profiteroles are drizzled with chocolate sauce but I thought, let's do it differently this time.
They turned out nice, More than nice. Perfect! Soft, airy and hollow inside. So I get to keep my £600. (seriously, I wouldn't even dream of spending that much money on profiteroles even if I am a billionaire!). Anyways, few friends of mine are intimidated by choux pastry making. It is actually very do-able. The tip to perfect choux, in my humble opinion, lies on few important factors:
- Get a digital scale for accurate measurements of the ingredients
- Open the oven door few times whilst the puffs are being baked. 1 know it contradicts the ancient rule of baking of do not open the oven door until cake is cooked..but trust me, it works better on choux pastry if you let the steam out once in a while
- I always turn around my tray half way during baking to get an even temperature throughout on those lil balls, and I love my fan oven.
- Cool the choux immediately on rack before filling them with cream
If you fancy some pipings and too scared to practice on big celebratory cakes, now is the time to get those nozzles out and play around on this pastry, and trust me, you will be proud of yourself with the end results.
Toffee Profiteroles with Chantilly Cream
70g plain flour
80 mls water
300mls double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g brown sugar
2 tbsp double cream
1 tbsp golden syrup
Whisk the eggs with a fork and take out a couple of tablespoon of the egg aside for egg wash later.
In a pan, boil the butter and water together. Once simmered, remove from heat and add in the flour and quickly form a ball using wooden spatula. Transfer to a bowl. On medium speed, using an electric mixer, beat the dough whilst gradually adding in the eggs. Keep beating until the batter is stringy.
Spoon all the batter into a piping bag and using a round nozzle, pipe the dough into 1 inch balls. Mix the remaining egg with a couple of water, and brush the top of the dough balls with the egg wash.
Bake for 20 minutes at 180C, turning the tray around half way during baking. Once golden, cool the profiteroles on wire rack.
Prepare the chantilly cream. Using electric mixer, beat the cream and gradually add in the icing sugar and vanilla. Beat until soft peaks are formed. Cool the cream in the fridge until just prior to use.
Prepare the toffee sauce. In a heavy bottomed pan, add all the ingredients and let it simmer and thicken slightly. Remove from heat and the sauce is ready to be drizzled.
Assembling the profiteroles
Once cooled, fill a piping back with cream and using round nozzle size no 2 (Wilton), inject the cream into the profiterole and stack the profiteroles on a plate. Drizzle with the toffee sauce.
Note: This recipe goes to Jabeen's Corner for Iftar Nights event.