Profiteroles are a classic French dessert that really are easy to make yet look impressive. You don't need any special equipment, just a pot and a wooden spoon. Here they are filled with a luscious but lighter cream filling capturing the fabulous combination of chocolate and almonds.
Chocolate Almond Profiteroles
75 ml (1/3 cup) ground almonds
250 ml (1 cup) water
125 ml ( 1/2 cup) butter, cut into cubes
15 ml (1 tbsp) granulated sugar
250 ml (1 cup) all-purpose flour
250 ml (1 cup) 18 per cent table cream or 10 per cent half-and-half cream
30 ml (2 tbsp) granulated sugar
15 ml (1 tbsp) cornstarch
90 g (3 oz) bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla
175 ml (3/4 cup) sliced almonds, toasted
60 g (2 oz) bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped
75 ml (1/3 cup) 18 per cent table cream or 10 per cent half-and-half cream.
Position oven racks in top and bottom thirds of oven and preheat to 200 C (400 F). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly butter.
In a medium saucepan, toast almonds over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.
In same saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar and salt; bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and add flour and toasted almonds. With a wooden spoon, stir vigorously until a ball of dough forms and comes away from the sides of the pan. Return to medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes or until steam subsides. Add 1 of the eggs and stir vigorously until incorporated. Repeat, adding eggs one at a time, beating until dough is smooth, paste-like and slightly shiny.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets at least 5 cm (2 inches) apart to make about 24 profiteroles. With moistened finger, smooth surface. Bake in top and bottom third of oven rotating pans halfway for about 20 minutes or until puffed and golden and they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Turn oven off. Remove baking sheets from oven; with the tip of a paring knife, poke a slit in the side of each profiterole. Return to oven; let stand for 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. (Profiteroles can be stored in a cookie tin at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
Filling: In a small saucepan, heat cream over medium heat until steaming. In a bowl, whisk sugar with cornstarch; whisk in eggs until blended. Gradually whisk hot cream into egg mixture in thin, steady stream. Return to saucepan. Cook over medium-low, whisking constantly for 3 to 8 minutes or until thick. Stir in chocolate and vanilla until melted. Transfer to a cool bowl; place plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate until chilled, 1 to 2 hours or for up to 2 days.
Chocolate Drizzle: In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate and cream, stirring until smooth; keep warm.
To serve: Cut profiteroles in half crosswise, almost but not all the way through. Spoon about 15 ml (1 tbsp) filling into each profiterole, sprinkle with toasted almonds and cover with profiterole top. Place 3 on each serving plate, drizzle with warm chocolate mixture and sprinkle with more almonds.