Monday, 4 May 2009

In Praise of Profiteroles...

What a joyful picture - to you this looks like an allmighty mess and hardly worth a mention, but these chocolate profiteroles were sinfully good, so good in fact that I decided to post a note about them, despite not being their baker. Choux pastry, as I've mentioned on this blog before, is my favourite form of pastry - making it is straightforward and I don't feel like a total retard whipping a batch of choux together, in contrast to the endless rolling of layers for puff pastry I did at Leiths, when butter would ooze all over the place and my baked puff pastry resembled Carr's water biscuits. This is not to say I don't love eating other styles of pastry but when a girl's in possession of breadmaking hands she just won't have the knack of making really light puff, not to mention flaky croissants or even a relatively easy shortcrust. 

Brioche, filo and choux are the extent of my pastry skills. The first because it's more akin to breadmaking and thus makes sense to a bread baker, and the second because frankly the old-fashioned method of slapping filo pastry all over the place is so much fun that it doesn't feel like pastry-making but rather an exercise in kitchen comedy. Filo is a great way to let off steam. 

Choux has a curious hold on the imagination, inexplicably more so than the other two, which is odd since I didn't grow up scoffing lots of choux pastry - in Scandinavia it's not as popular as Viennoiserie-style pastry. Perhaps it's the quaintness of choux, or the way they're filled to the brim with custard. Favourite filling of the moment has to be passionfruit and vanilla custard, but I imagine other flavours such as violet cream, lemon curd, pistachio or coffee custard would make interesting twists on the traditional vanilla custard. Topping the choux buns with chocolate sauce is what constitutes the classic profiterole, but I'm thinking the next experiment with choux might have to incorporate a salted butter caramel sauce. 

Finally, the act of popping each little choux bun in your mouth is perhaps what makes them so moreish (and indeed sensual). I know in principle you can fill other pastry such as almond croissants, pain au chocolats and millefeuille but the texture of a thin, crisp choux bun giving way to sweet custard isn't easily replicated IMHO.

So this post is dedicated to the humble choux. And the photo above is from Saturday's wedding of two awesome friends, Nina and Finnbar. Their wedding luncheon was at the Bombay Brasserie where we ate, drank and celebrated in grand style. The chocolatey profiteroles were assembled in an auspicious French croquembouche, the dark chocolate acted as glue to keep the choux buns in place before hiding them under layers of creamy white chocolate that rippled like a helix down the croquembouche cone. A joyous occasion marked by a joyous tradition. 

Felicitations Nina and Finn, the wedding was a storming success.


Anonymous said...

Ooh this looks so good! I might try and make some over the weekend

Signe said...

Totally agree gastrogeek, profiteroles are my idea of perfection. definitely worth making as they're so easy and taste much better fresh than store-bought. These were from Patisserie Valerie and I must admit they were delicious, going to try and make some soon, have exams to get through first though so baking is limited...look forward to seeing yours!