Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Toffee Profiteroles

Toffee Profiteroles
Home Cooking

I've made profiteroles before and have already written a post about them. That was a good couple of months ago and I've since gotten the 'urge' again. 'Why?', you may ask.

Well, this is another one of those things that I must attribute to MasterChef Australia. Since their croquembouche pressure test challenge, I've been fantasizing about Matt Preston biting into his profiterole with that CRUNCH. This image has driven me crazy... not over Matt Preston but over the toffee crunch.

Toffee-coated profiteroles had always seemed like such a sugar overkill in the past but suddenly I was seeing them in a brand new light. No two ways about it: I HAD to try it.

This time, I followed Nigella Lawson's profiterole recipe from 'How to be a domestic goddess'. Rare as it is, on this occasion I made the FULL quantity rather than splitting and dividing. This means that with the choux pastry and the custard, the total egg count was 8. That's quite a lot of eggs. I choose to think of this dessert as 'highly nutritional' rather than 'belt-busting'. Though it technically is both.

IMPORTANT: Nigella's recipe suggests baking the pastry for 15min. That was nowhere near enough time for my pastry to crisp up so I followed the baking method I used previously (which is 15min at 220 degrees, 20-30min at 160 degrees, let out the steam and then 5-10min at 160 degrees). Using this extended baking method means that you'll end up with profiteroles that are golden brown and don't deflate once they're cooled.

Toffee Profiteroles
Makes about 20


For the choux pastry
  • 1 and 1/3 cups plain flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
For the caramel custard filling
  • 1 and 1/3 cups plain flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
For the toffee coating
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
For the choux pastry...

1. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Put the water, butter and salt in a decent-sized saucepan and heat until the butter is melted and the water is just beginning to boil. Quickly remove from the heat because you don't want any water to evaporate.2. Use a wooden spoon to beat the flour into the butter and water mixture. Don't bother doing it carefully, just incorporate it all in until it's reasonably smooth and coherent. Pop the saucepan back on the heat for a minute or so until the dough begins to come away from the sides of the pan to form a smooth ball (approx 1min or even less).3. Beat the eggs in gradually. You can use a wooden spoon or a stand mixer (like I did). Add enough egg so that the dough becomes smooth and gleaming. It should be soft enough to pipe but still stiff enough to hold its shape. You may not need all of the egg so go carefully.4. Either pipe the dough into little rounds onto an oiled piece of baking paper or use a spoon. Space the rounds about 2cm apart. They will expand but tend not to stick together so don't worry too much.5. Bake for 15min. Turn down the heat to 160 degrees and bake for another 25min or so. The profiteroles should be risen and golden.
6. Remove the profiteroles from the oven and use a skewer or small, sharp knife to cut into the sides of each one to release the steam.
7. Return them to the oven to bake for another 5min. Remove and cool them down to room temperature before filling.
For the caramel custard filling...

1. Warm the milk and cream in a saucepan.
2. In the meantime, beat the egg yolks and sugar until creamy and add the flour.
3. Pour the warm milk/cream into the egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Pour the whole lot back into the saucepan and stir or whisk gently over low heat until the custard thickens. Add the vanilla extract, strain and set aside.4. In a small pan, burn the water and sugar together on high heat until it turns into a dark brown caramel.5. Quickly whisk the caramel into the custard. Once it's combined, pour into a bowl and let the mixture cool. Place a wet piece of wax paper on top to prevent a skin forming.
6. Pipe the custard into the cooled profiteroles by inserting the nozzle into the cut you made to release steam.
For the toffee coating...

1. Melt the sugar and water in a non-stick saucepan. Turn the heat on high and boil the syrup away until it caramelizes.2. Quickly remove the toffee from the heat to prevent burning. Dip the filled profiteroles in with a pair of tongs and let them cool on a piece of non-stick paper. The toffee should harden once cooled. I stacked mine all together to make a small croquembouche.

Well, well. Making these profiteroles was quite the adventure. There are a lot of fiddly processes and you use a truckload of ingredients. I had bowls and tools and bits and pieces flying everywhere and I am generally QUITE clean in the kitchen.

The thing that really added to my pains was my inability to pipe. I couldn't pipe the choux pastry, though I tried. I ended up just spooning the dough onto the trays - it worked OK. As for piping the custard into the shells... what a disaster. I think that though my custard was a good consistency for pouring custard or dipping custard, it wasn't thick enough to be piped into the shells without dribbling everywhere. I managed one batch but for my 2nd batch of profiteroles, I was fed up and tried spooning the custard into big holes cut in the side. This is not a very precise way of doing things and I suppose if you can get your piping bag to work for you, that is the better alternative.

On the plus side, the profiteroles were so yummy. The pastry was puffed to perfection and were the perfect little houses for the caramel custard. With my custard, I think I was a bit heavy-handed with the vanilla extract because after I added that, the caramel flavor became less distinct. The toffee coating was very messy to achieve but the crunch was there and it was GOOD.

Be aware that whilst I stuck all my profiteroles together, this made them hard to tear apart and you end up bursting them open in your desperation to separate the beats. Result = custard and toffee meltdown. Instead, I recommend dipping the filled profiteroles in toffee and drying them all individually on some non-stick paper. Alternatively, add a bit of cream to the toffee to make a sticky caramel (or, add a bit of butter too to make a butterscotch sauce) and drizzle that on instead. It won't set hard which is good in that the profiteroles won't stick together but bad in that you won't get any crunch. It all depends on what you like.


  1. i read somewhere to just buy regular custard from the supermarket and fold it through heavily whipped cream, which is exactly what i intend to try because let's face it, cooking is fun if it doesn't give you a mental and one recipe with three operations is simply above and beyond! as for piping - ridiculous! shove it in a hole with a spoon and face the ugly bit to the back!

  2. I know exactly what you mean - racing around with pots and pans everywhere is so hectic. This is why multi-process recipes are saved for uni holidays when I'm desperate to kill time :D.

    On the plus, a good result is so satisfying.

    And glad to hear I'm not alone in hating anything that involves an icing bag.

  3. I am attempting to make some in the next week. First time ever. Have taken some details. Wish me luck!

    Merry Christmas


  4. This is my first attempt at making these delicious looking puffs. Wish me luck and thanks for the description and tips.