Russian Kitchen: Profiteroles

The choux pastry, with origins in 16th century France, has become immensely popular in Russia over the last few years.

Source: Divya Shirodkar

In my humble opinion, profiterole is the tastiest dessert ever invented. The pastry ball filled with whipped cream, pastry cream, or ice cream, first appeared in the gourmet scene five centuries ago. 16th century pastry chefs throughout France and England had begun to experiment with dough mixtures of flour, water, fat and egg. The exact mixture goes by the name choux pastry. It's a simple mixture with delightful results: when it puffs, it creates an airy hole in the centre which can be filled with sweet or savoury filling.

It’s fair to ask me what profiteroles have to do with Russian cooking. During my last trip to Russia with my son, profiteroles were our dessert of preference. Although its origins can be traced to Western Europe, the dish has gained immense popularity in Russia over the last few years. We are not so big on sweets but this dessert would not last for more than an hour. It is so light and tasty that it’s impossible to stop eating it! I felt that it would be unfair if I don’t share this recipe, despite it not being a traditional Russian item. 

The beauty of this dish is that you can make so many variations out of it, both savoury and sweet. Profiteroles are small hollow balls about 2 inches in diameter that you can stuff with anything you like. It is excellent finger food for a drinks party and a perfect sweet dish for a child's birthday. 

The dough for profiteroles is different in preparation from regular dough. The difference is that maida gets cooked with hot water that allows those small balls to grow double in size and stay hollow.

Ingredients: 

Dough:

Maida 150 g

Butter 100 g

Sugar 15 g (half a table spoon)

Salt 1 tea spoon

Eggs 4 pc

Water 250 ml

Pastry Cream:

Milk 500 ml

Sugar 125 g

Eggs 2 pc

Maida 80 g

Butter 125 g

Salt 1 pinch

Vanilla few drops

Preparation of dough:

1. Mix maida and sugar.

2. Heat water with butter until it melts and then bring it to boil.

3. Add to boiling water maida with sugar; very quickly mix until it glues together making a ball. 

4. Remove from fire and cool down to the temperature that the eggs don’t get cooked. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly. It is better to mix with wooden spoon rather than hand mixer. It allows the puffs to raise better. The consistency of the dough should be between idli and chapati. It should be little running but hold the shape. In case your consistency is different, you could bring it to required one by adding water or maida.

5. Spread oil on baking tray or put baking paper. Put dough into decorating bag and make round shaped profiteroles keeping in mind that they will get doubled in size. My output was 32 balls. In case you don’t have a decorating bag, use table spoon to make balls. 

6. Preheat oven to 200*C and bake profiteroles for 35-45 min till they are golden brown.

Preparation of pastry cream: (the quantity advised was enough for 2 portions of dough)

1. Mix maida, sugar, salt; add eggs and mix thoroughly.

2. Bring milk with butter and few drops of vanilla to boil. Add 1/3 of liquid to mix of maida and eggs and stir. Continue stirring by adding the rest of the liquid. Put the mixture on low flame and stir. Be patient! You have to keep it on low flame and keep stirring until it gets thicken. You can’t increase the flame and make the process quicker. The cream should be smooth, if there are some balls of maida created, put cream through strainer. Remember that it will get thicker after cooling down.

Assembling: make a side cut on each profiterole and stuff it with a spoon of cream.

Variations: make your favourite custard or boil condensed milk and mix with butter; mix cream cheese with jalapenos, or chop cheese, tomatoes and basil! Use your creativity!

Priyatnogo appetita!

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