My love of all things French was fostered during a summer in which I immersed my teenage self in the works of Danille Steele classic literature. I would lazily read the days away, dreaming of far away places, romantic French locales and knights in shining armour. I knew about French history, art and culture, but at that time I was hardly aware of French food.
That education came a few years later when I was fortunate enough to live abroad. I ate my way across the South of France, and into Italy, for a good chunk of 1997, and by the time I returned home I was obsessed with re-creating the tastes I had experienced. Kids came along soon after, and my new fixation was feeding them well, not believing that I could marry the food for my family with those French flavours I dreamed off.
How silly of me! While living in Monaco, I worked for a family that ate "French" food, because to them it was just food. It wasn't as common to feed young Canadian kids beef bourguignon and steak frites as it was grilled cheese and hot dogs, but that's okay. I've never been one to conform to the norm, and French cuisine quickly became part of our food culture.
Today, my shelves are stocked with more French books than my young Francophile dreams could have hoped for, and my kids are well-versed in French fare. Profiteroles are a favourite dessert of ours, and after trying many recipes - three in the last week - I feel confident that I have found what I was looking for. Knight in shining armour included.
Like all good recipes should, this one uses metric measurements. It's derived from an old recipe I had when I was taking classes at George Brown Chef School.
- 170g water
- 83g butter
- 3g salt
- 12g granulated sugar
- 125g all-purpose flour, sifted
- 3 eggs
- Vanilla bean or candy cane ice cream
- Cranberry coulis or chocolate sauce
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
In a small saucepan bring the water, butter, salt and sugar to a boil. Make sure the butter is completely melted.
Add the sifted flour while the liquid is boiling and stir with a wooden spoon. It will form a paste. Cook the paste until it cleans from the sides of the pot and forms a ball, leaving a white film on the bottom of the pot.
Transfer the paste to a mixing bowl and allow it to cool slightly. Add the eggs, one a time, allowing each to be fully incorporated before adding another. Scrape down the bowl each time and check the consistency of the paste. It should be stiff enough to stand, but soft enough to spread.
Scoop large tablespoons of the paste onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using damp fingers, press down any irregularities in the shape and form a small ball.
Bake for 20 minutes. Turn the pan around, reduce the heat to 375 and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the puffs are golden and crisp. Turn off the heat and allow them to stand in the closed oven for 15 minutes so the insides can thoroughly dry out.
Allow the pastry to cool to room temperature. Slice them in half and top one side with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream (or candy cane). Place the other half on top and drizzle with cranberry coulis (or chocolate sauce) and chopped chocolate.
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Juice of one clementine
- 1/2 cup water
Place the cranberries, sugar, water and juice in a small sauce pan. Set over medium heat, and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the cranberry skins have burst and the sauce has thickened. Pass it through a fine mesh sieve, and discard the solids. Chill until serving.