For my family birthday get-together, I decided to forgo the typical birthday cake and ice cream and serve a twist on traditional profiteroles. Before you think, “She had to make her OWN birthday dessert!?” know that both my husband and mom offered to make the dessert, but I’d had these in mind for weeks.
So, instead, of sheet cake and Neopolitan, I turned to my cooking inspiration: Julia Child. Pastry is typically something I have very little patience for, due to past bad experiences with pie dough. However, this year, I somewhat forced myself to conquer it, and have two great recipes that I am able to prepare with ease for my pies, tarts, and galette needs. Now I’ve moved on to the impressive Pate a Choux – or the dough that’s used for eclairs, cream puffs/profiteroles, crullers, and the like – which is actually very, very easy to make. When I was little, my favorite doughnut was the French Cruller. I was delighted to find out that this dough is used for those, too.
Right before I lightly flattened the peaks with a pastry brush and egg wash…
Pate a Choux gets its name from its appearance: small cabbages. “Choux” is the French term for cabbage. I piped mine, but you can also just drop the dough onto your sheet pan using spoons, too. *If you don’t have piping bag, I’ve used plastic sandwich bags to pipe with great success.
Last week, we received a free KitchenAid ice cream maker for our stand mixer from a rebate offer, so I was anxious to try it out. One of the flavors I’ve wanted to make ever since watching Steve Martin and Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated is honey-lavender. Meryl, a bakery owner, makes this for Steve one evening, and he raves about it. (Do you like how I used their first names, like we’re on a first-name basis? I wish!) Steve and Meryl – my favorites.
When I heard of this combination, I imagined it to be beautifully light and floral with an herbaceous sweetness.
…and that was pretty accurate. Traditional profiteroles are filled with ice cream and are topped with chocolate ganache. Instead of using vanilla ice cream, I opted for this unique substitute, and instead of ganache, I drizzled them with raw honey. Like Ina Garten, I like finishing dishes with bits of something that’s in the dish, so I sprinkled on the TINIEST bit of delicate, fragrant lavender.
I just put together and photographed a serving of these after baking and stuffing the profiteroles, so I haven’t served them to my family yet. My best taste-tester gave them high praises this morning, though, so I’m anxious for my small crowd to try them. The Pate a Choux turned out nicely puffed and airy. They’re the perfect “vehicle” for the honey-lavender ice cream.
Honey Lavender Ice Cream Recipe (adapted from AlwaysOrderDessert)
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbs. lavender buds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup raw honey
In a small saucepan, combine the whole milk, heavy cream, lavender buds, sea salt, and honey. Heat on medium heat just until it starts to simmer, then remove from heat and let cool slightly. Transfer to an air-tight container, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, up to 24.
Once chilled, pass the mixture through a strainer to remove the lavender buds. Whisk briefly, and then pour into your ice cream maker, freezing according to manufacturer’s instructions.
The ice cream will be soft-serve texture after it runs through the ice cream maker; freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.
Pate a Choux (from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”)
1 Cup of Water
6 Tbsp Butter cut into cubes
Pinch of Salt
1 Tsp Sugar
Pinch of Nutmeg (optional)
¾ Cup of Plain Flour
4 Large Eggs
1 small egg, beaten and mixed with a little water
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Bring water to a boil in a pan with the butter, seasonings and sugar. Boil slowly until butter has melted. Remove from heat and immediately pour in the flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for several seconds to blend thoroughly.