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Paris Bistro Profiteroles

Profiteroles are a classic French bistro dessert. Not what you’d call elegant exactly, certainly not rustic though either, but fitting comfortably, sweetly in between.

Imagine if you will:

You’re in a small restaurant sitting at a petite metal table draped with white butcher paper. On it, white linen napkins. Heavy silverware. Two small flickering candles.  A few fresh flowers in a small jar. Across the table from you, so near your knees could touch, sits someone whose company you love. You’re wrapped in conversation. The tables around you are full and already a line is forming out the door. Bon soirs and multiple cheek-kisses on meeting, French voices ringing all around and plates clattering loudly in the kitchen nearby. Your server approaches, his long white apron covering slim black trousers. A tray he holds overhead lowers, and on it:. creamy white gelato-filled puffs, drizzled with a warm dark sauce that spills over the sides. And on the tray too, demitasse cups, three-quarters full of  espresso that you’ll say later was the smoothest, most wonderful you’ve ever tasted. And then, there’s those profiteroles…!

~ ~ ~

This recipe comes from Chef Kimberly Schor and appears in a Nordstrom Entertaining Cookbook. I’ve tried several recipes for profiteroles and I like this as well (or better) than any. An instructive note from the chef:

When she was researching menus in Paris with fellow chef and good friend Nicque from the Cordon Bleu, she learned three basics truths about profiteroles. They must be made daily, vanilla gelato works better than ice cream because of its creamy, velvety texture, and the chocolate used for the sauce must be semisweet and of high quality. (Guittard, Volrhona or Scarffen Berger.)

This is NOT a difficult dessert to make. The suggestion is that a single serving is 2 profiteroles, but 1 seems quite plenty to us. I freeze what we don’t eat and serve them later. I make only half the sauce at a time so as not to try to save leftovers. You might like a coffee gelato, or maybe a slightly salty caramel sauce instead of chocolate. Profiteroles are a dessert to be played with. (And for the record, kids love them!)

Pastry Puffs (the pâte à choux)

  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) plus 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water

Chocolate Sauce

  • ½ pound high-quality semisweet chocolate roughly chopped
  • ½ cup heavy (whipping) cream

For serving:

  • 1 pint vanilla gelato

(For this recipe, and for most if we’re being honest, assembling all the ingredients and tools you’ll need ahead of time will make the process smooth and easy.)

To make the Pastry Puffs:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, butter, salt and water and bring just to a boil. Add the sifted flour in a steady stream while constantly stirring until all the flour is incorporated. Continue to cook while stirring all along until the mixture forms a stiff mass, 3 or 4 minutes longer.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer. Beat with a mixer set on low speed until it lightens in color and cools slightly, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. After all eggs have been incorporated, continue mixing for 1 minute longer. The dough should be smooth and sticky. Allow it to cool for 5 minutes.

To form the puffs, use a 1½-ounce spring-action-grip ice-cream scoop. Pack the pastry dough tightly into the scoop and release onto the parchment-lined pans. (You may need to squeeze the “trigger” several times for the dough to completely release.) Repeat to form 16 puffs in all, spacing them evenly. (They will not spread much, but will rise.) Lightly brush the tops with egg yolk-water wash.

Place the pan into the oven and bake the puffs undisturbed for 25 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees to ensure even baking and continue to bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes longer (but begin checking after 17.) Remove from the oven and set aside until cool to the touch.

To make the Chocolate Sauce, fill a double boiler or saucepan with 1 inch of water. Bring to a gentle simmer. Place the chocolate into the top of the double boiler or a heat-proof bowl inside the pan. Allow chocolate to nearly melt completely, then add the cream. When the chocolate has fully melted, stir the cream and chocolate together, being gentle rather than vigorous. The mixture should be smooth and glossy. Add a touch more cream if it seems a touch too thick.

To assemble:

With a serrated knife, split each puff in half horizontally. Using an ice-cream scoop, place a scoop of gelato on the bottom of each puff. Return the tops, nestling them gently into the gelato. Transfer to shallow bowls or dessert plates. Carefully pour or spoon the warm sauce over the top. Light the candles. Serve immediately.

60 Comments Post a comment
  1. jim.callas@gmail.com #

    That sounds so incredible right about now! 🙂

    October 24, 2012
    • Profiteroles aren’t just for breakfast anymore! 😉

      October 25, 2012
  2. Oh my, the photo of that gorgeous profiterole literally took my breath away. Your post reminded me that when I was 23 or 24, I made a croquembouche to take to a friend’s dinner party. Such audacity at a young age! I made the choux pastry by hand (my arm was trembling by the time I finished beating all the eggs into the dough). Then I made a pastry cream filling, filled the profiteroles, built them into a tower and wrapped spun sugar around the whole structure. I’m amazed today that I did this back then. Goes to show that with a bit of ambition, a good cookbook and a day in the kitchen, you can accomplish just about anything! Thank you for stirring up this memory for me.

    October 24, 2012
    • Mar, I fall at your feet!! What a brave bold girl! And your conclusion about ambition, a good cookbook and a day in the kitchen is spot on! I’m feeling quite inspired! Thank you so much for sharing your memory! To the front of the class you go!!

      October 25, 2012
      • Well, thank you, but please, get up! I think the key to my story is that I didn’t know enough to be intimidated by what I was tackling. Sometimes knowledge gets in our way!

        So glad I could provide some inspiration. I’m going to recreate that croquembouche some day – wouldn’t that be something to blog about!

        October 25, 2012
        • Yes, Mar, your message wasn’t lost – that to be young is also to be wildly (naively) adventuresome and confident! 🙂 Absolutely, knowledge can be a very intrusive thing! To hold onto that Wondrous Naiveté might just be the fountain of youth!

          October 27, 2012
  3. Mama, as always, your composition is unmatched. Such beautiful photos of these simultaneously simple and elegant desserts. They are so lovely and, you’re right, the kids would love them. Bon appetit!

    October 24, 2012
    • Your words are so sweet to me Ash. Thank you so much! xxoo

      October 25, 2012
  4. And I love your storytelling…your setting of the scene — I was right there with you!

    October 24, 2012
  5. Wonderful post, Spree. Such great storytelling and imagery! Just the name profiteroles makes my heart skip a beat. I really do love them.
    Just this past weekend, we took a friend to a French bistro to celebrate his birthday. On the way, we chatted about the desserts and how much we looked forward to ordering something special. Profiteroles kept coming back as a favorite of the 3 of us. Unbeknownst to us, the remaining member of our party brought a birthday cake. It was a nice cake. In fact, it was a lovely cake, but, who brings cake to a French bistro? In a move that would have made Marie Antoinette proud, we had cake for dessert.

    I think I’ll bring the Birthday Boy back there one evening for the profiteroles he never received.

    October 24, 2012
    • Loved that John! Yes, you’re just the friend to take a friend back for profiteroles! (And thank you so much for the kindness of your comment!)

      October 25, 2012
  6. Carolyn #

    Birthday boys definitely deserve profiteroles! That profiterole “head shot” is like fluff incarnate! And very cool down shots of the process. The child in me could do this!

    October 24, 2012
    • They do indeed and they shall have them! Yes, the child in you could do them and then (because I know the child in you) she would scarf them until her tummy hurt! And then, just one more!

      October 25, 2012
  7. Wow, this is wonderful. And I love the photos!

    October 24, 2012
    • Nice of you to say! Thank you!

      October 25, 2012
  8. Wow! Looks amazing!

    October 24, 2012
  9. Just wonderful. Perfect profiteroles are …. perfect:)

    October 25, 2012
    • Yes, and I have a hunch you Roger would know the perfect profiteroles!

      October 25, 2012
  10. Yummy, I am going to have to make these, they seem far too good to not be made! Thanks

    October 25, 2012
    • Yes…you’ve said it just the way it needs to be said…they’re entirely too good not to be made! 🙂 (Thanks for your comment!)

      October 25, 2012
  11. There goes the waistline!

    October 25, 2012
    • Oh no, not again! 😉

      October 25, 2012
  12. Wow Antoinette! This is fantastic. You make it look so easy… I’m tempted to try to make them myself 😉
    Thanks for sharing!

    October 25, 2012
    • Oh Giovanna – if you’re tempted at all, have SUCH confidence – you can Easily do this!! 🙂

      October 25, 2012
  13. Divine. i want to be sitting at that table too! c

    October 25, 2012
    • Would love your company around our table Celi!

      October 25, 2012
      • Wouldn’t that be a grand thing! c

        October 25, 2012
  14. OH my lord, that looks SO damn good! I’m drooling…

    October 25, 2012
  15. Gorgeous, lovely, wonderful, scrumptious, fabulous! All these adjectives to describe this beautiful and delicious dessert!

    October 25, 2012
    • Ambrosiana, you are So kind – thank you very much!

      October 25, 2012
  16. These look incredible! Stunning photos as always — I’m ready to dip my finger in the chocolate sauce! 🙂

    October 25, 2012
  17. I love profiteroles and always use Julia Child’s recipe…they are so easy to make even though they look difficult. Now yours look perfect with that nice thick sauce dripping down. Think I may have to make some profiteroles very soon! 🙂

    October 25, 2012
    • I’ve meant to try Julia’s recipe (from Baking with Julia?) with the cinnamon ice-cream and Grand Marnier chocolate sauce? Hello!! 🙂

      October 27, 2012
      • Her recipe probably is in Baking with Julia, but the one I have is from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home and she suggests either pastry cream or ice cream with raspberry jam and chocolate ganache sauce. Can’t go wrong, and now I’ll have to try Grand Marnier sauce because that sounds even better!

        October 27, 2012
        • Oh how quickly our heads can turn! 😉

          October 27, 2012
  18. I love profiteroles. So light and airy, delicate. A thing of beauty! Thanks for sharing.

    October 26, 2012
    • Well-said! Thanks for your comment Richard.

      October 26, 2012
  19. Spree – your photography is just stunning in this post – you are so amazing! This wonderful French treat is just making me swoon! Thank you for making my Friday night! X

    October 26, 2012
    • Oh Shira, thank You for making Saturday morning! 🙂 xx

      October 27, 2012
  20. One of my all time favorite desserts. No matter how full I am from a meal there is always room for profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

    October 27, 2012
    • Exactly! Happy trails to you Karen…we’re enjoying your tour and happy seeing the sun has turned in your direction! 🙂

      October 27, 2012
      • Thanks Spree…it is nice to see the sun.

        October 27, 2012
  21. I love profiteroles and that’s a very beautiful image of a very delicious looking profiterole. These are perfect any time of the day or night! xx

    October 27, 2012
    • Why thank you Charlie, so nice of you to say! And yes I agree, profiteroles go equally well with morning coffee as with late night espresso! 🙂

      October 27, 2012
  22. I’m late to your profiterole party, spree, but so happy to read the wonderful memories your recipes conjured up for the other bloggers visiting here! Profiteroles are just that, the sort of deliciousness that you will never forget. This post and your photos are so memorable, when I get the chance to make these, this will be the blog and the recipe I remember to return to. I might have the opportunity this week! My son turns 19 and I’m thinking these might be perfect. He learned to make them two summers ago at a farm he visited and he has craved them ever since. It would be an awesome birthday surprise! Thank you spree!! ps love the image of you and GG sitting with knees touching in conversation:) xx Smidge

    October 27, 2012
  23. You just make we want to walk out the door, walk to the station (5 minutes away) get a train to Ashford, an then get another trian, a train to Paris!!

    October 31, 2012
  24. How can you beat a post that starts with imagine if you will 🙂

    November 3, 2012
  25. deb #

    This is one of the most delicious looking and sounding desserts ever . . . a combination of some of my favorite ingredients. It’s becoming more and more evident just how wonderful this trip was for the two of you 🙂

    November 12, 2012
    • It was that, and continuing to share about it means it still IS a wonderful trip! 🙂

      November 12, 2012
  26. ohfudgemonkey #

    Reblogged this on Fudge Monkey Recipes and commented:
    I think I fell in love with this

    September 24, 2013
    • Thank you so much Christina! So glad you did!

      September 26, 2013
  27. Wow the pictures are making me hungry…and I’ve just had dinner!! What a great post too 🙂

    November 11, 2013
    • Thank you so much! Happy to make you hungry (even when you’re full.) : )

      November 11, 2013
  28. anyamur #

    Your blog is so inspiring, and the photography is amazing! I’m 15 and new to this whole bloggin’ thing so have you got any tips for me? It would be so kind! And if you could follow me to get me started, that’s would be so nice of you, but of course there’s no probs if you don’t! http://saturdaycookingateen.wordpress.com/

    January 20, 2014
  29. Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing.
    🙂

    July 14, 2014
    • Thank You “mommy cooks”! 🙂

      July 14, 2014

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