My morning routine is quite simple and quite honed. I wake up, stumble out of bed, and start making coffee for Jacob and I. We like our coffee strong and very well made. We use a traditional Bialetti Moka Pot, our preferred coffee brewing method. It's a fancy little machine that makes a coffee similar in strength and taste to espresso. It takes a little getting used to because there are quite a few steps that go into it. It is worth it in my opinion and honestly, I love the ritual of it all. After I make my fresh pot of espresso, I use an electric milk frother to get the perfect foamy milk. I pour in the espresso, then the frothed milk, and voilà; two perfect cappuccinos. I like my coffee unsweetened and strong.
Jacob has filled my life with immense joy and has taught me so many things. One thing that I can accredit to him is my love for coffee. When we first met, we worked together and were a couple doors down from a coffee shop. I was completely enamored by him and I would think of any excuse to talk/interact with him. I noticed that he always came to work with a coffee so I started going to the coffee shop and offering to get him something too. Sly trick, I know, *wink wink*.
I knew next to nothing about coffee at that time. My only interactions with coffee were weekends spent at my Grandmothers house as a child. She was an avid coffee drinker, always a cup in her hand. She would make me a piece of toast, sit me atop her leg, and let me dip my toast in her coffee. My mother didn't drink coffee nor did most of my family so I never had an interest in it. Then Jake came along. He introduced me to Café Americanos, Cappuccinos, Pour Over Coffee, and so many more. At first I was only drinking coffee to have a reason to talk to Jake and although it sounds so silly now, it led to our marriage (still reeling over that one) and my now compulsive affection for coffee.
So I would just like to say, thank you Jake, for everything, coffee and all.
Now onto this weeks recipe: Espresso Profiteroles. I have always loved Pâté À Choux and all of things you can do with it; eclairs, cream puffs, gougères, and so much more. The choux pastry shells are easy to make and can be made in any shape or size that you prefer. I printed out 1" circle templates to keep them small and all uniform in size. I like the 1" inch size because my local pastry shop makes gigantic cream puffs and quite honestly, I can't take a single bite without being covered in powdered sugar or drip the whipped cream on myself. This size makes a one or two bite treat which is my preferred size for a profiterole. They are made using a classic pâté à choux recipe: Milk, water, butter, sugar, salt, flour, and eggs. Instead of using water, substitute it for fresh espresso or strongly brewed coffee. If you want to use espresso but aren't able to make it at home, you can go to your local coffee shop and buy straight espresso. Make sure that you enough to measure half a cup! Making profiteroles can seem daunting but follow the steps closely and they sure turn out perfect.
The next component to the profiteroles is the craquelin. This is a simple step and makes the puffs look a little more fancy. You make a simple "cookie" dough with butter, brown sugar, flour, and espresso powder. You make the dough, roll it between two sheets of parchment paper, and freeze until solid. Once the dough is stiff enough you use a small cookie cutter or circular object to cut out rounds of dough that are similar in diameter to your piped profiteroles. While the profiteroles are baking, the craquelin tops will melt slightly and give the puffs a gorgeous "cracked" top. It isn't necessary to make the craquelin so you can skip it if you don't have time or don't want to do the extra step but I highly recommend doing it for look and texture.
Next, the vanilla bean pastry cream. This pastry cream is smooth, sweet, and delicious. It's very easy to make and only requires a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand. If you don't have vanilla beans you can use pure vanilla extract. It will equally delicious but I prefer using vanilla bean seeds because they have a more 'delicate' vanilla flavor and I love the speckled look that they add. You should make this the day or night before you plan to make the profiteroles as it needs to set/cool in the refrigerator over night or for at least six hours.
The espresso chantilly cream (whipped cream) is my favorite part of the profiteroles. I found the perfect ratio of cream + espresso + sugar + salt. The espresso flavor is subtle and pairs perfectly with the profiteroles. I love using chantilly cream in recipes because it only requires a few ingredients and can be infinitely modified. I call for freshly brewed espresso because it imparts the best coffee flavor but if you don't have access to it you can substitute it for espresso powder.
As for the filling a piping technique, I used a serrated knife to cut the choux puffs in half then piped a small amount of vanilla pastry cream in the bottom "cup" of the puff. Then, using a pastry bag with a star or open star piping tip (Wilton #32) you hold the pastry bag straight up and pipe a circle of cream around the bottom half of the puff. I then pipe a small dome of cream on top of the first layer of cream so that the tops of the puffs sit nicely on top. You can also pipe a small dome on top of the puffs and top that with a single coffee bean. This last decorating step is completely optional and I did 50/50 with and without it. You really can decorate these however you would like!
These Mini Espresso Profiteroles are delicate and mouthwatering. If you love coffee, you will love these. If you try this recipe, please give me your feedback and let me know how they turn out. Thanks to all of the new lovely people who have recently found A Common Kitchen. I can barely explain the appreciation that I have for you all.
Mini Espresso Profiteroles
Makes 24-30 Mini Profiteroles -- depending on how big you pipe the choux puffs and how much you fill each one.
Pâte à Choux:
½ Cup Whole Milk
½ Cup Espresso or Strongly Brewed Coffee
6 Tablespoons Butter
½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
1 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Egg + 1 Tsp Water, whisked together in a small bowl to make the eggs wash
The Espresso Craquelin Topping
1 ½ ounces (about 3 tablespoons) Butter, room temperature
1⁄4 Cup (50 g) Brown Sugar, packed
½ Cup (50 g) All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Espresso Powder
The Vanilla Pastry Cream (Recipe from King Arthur)
3 Cups Whole Milk
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 Vanilla Bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
1/4 Cup Cornstarch
1 Tablespoon Flour
4 Large Egg Yolks
4 Tablespoons Cold Butter, cut into 1" cubes
The Espresso Chantilly Cream
1 ½ Cups Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Espresso (You can substitute this for 3 Tablespoons of strongly brewed coffee)
1⁄4 Cup Powdered Sugar
Pinch of Kosher Salt
For the Vanilla Pastry Cream: This needs to be made the day or night before as it needs quite some time to set in the fridge.
1. In a medium sized sauce pan, whisk together 2 ½ Cups of the milk, the sugar, salt, and the vanilla bean and it's seeds. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the remaining ½ cup of milk, egg yolks, cornstarch, and flour until fully combined.
3. Once the milk is at a simmer, temper the egg yolk mixture by carefully ladling in about ½ cup of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, making sure to constantly whisk so it won't curdle. Repeat with another ½ cup of the hot milk mixture. Once the yolk mixture is tempered, add the contents of the bowl into your saucepan and continue to cook the pastry cream, stirring occasionally, until it is thick and coats the back of a spoon, about five minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter one piece at time until it is all fully incorporated.
4. Set a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and pour the pastry cream through it. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap is touching the top of the pastry cream so that it won't form a skin on top, and refrigerate it over night or at least six hours.
5. Once chilled, transfer to a piping bag (no tip required for this one) and snip off the end when ready to use.
For the Craquelin:
1. In a bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, two minutes. Add in the flour and espresso powder and mix until fully combined.
2. Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper and place another sheet of parchment on top of the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough very thin, about 1⁄4 thick. Place in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
3. Use a circular cookie cutter that is about 1" in diameter or a diameter similar to your unbaked choux pastry shells. I used the bottom of a piping tip. Cut as many rounds as you need or can get. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
For the Pâte à Choux:
1. Preheat the oven to 400° f and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized saucepan, combine the milk, espresso, butter, salt, and sugar over medium heat. Once the butter is fully melted, remove the pan from the heat and add in the flour all at once and stir to combine. Return the pan to the heat and cook until the dough forms into a ball and you can start to see a thin "film" of dough forming on the bottom and sides of the pan. Take the dough off the heat.
2. Place your dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the dough on low speed for a minute or two to cool it slightly. Now, add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each one fully before adding the next. You can test the doneness of your choux by removing the paddle attachment, dip it into the dough, pull it straight up from the bowl, and the dough forms a "V" as it drips.
3. Transfer your choux to a pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Holding the piping bag straight up with the piping tip parallel to the baking sheet. Pipe 1 inch circles of choux about 1 inch apart. You can print 1" circle templates if you prefer to have uniform profiteroles.
4. If any of your profiteroles have a little "kiss" pointy top, dip a clean finger into some water and gently pat it away so you have a smooth round top. Using a pastry brush, brush each profiterole with the egg wash.
5. Top each profiterole with one round of your craquelin topping. Don't press it on with too much pressure, just set the craquelin on top gently and it will stick once baked.
6. Bake the profiteroles for 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. After the first 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 350°f and bake until they are starting to brown, 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully transfer to a cooling rack.
For the Espresso Chantilly Cream:
1. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Whip on medium speed until you get medium-stiff peaks. The cream should not be runny but should not be over whipped to the point where it looks curdled.
2. Transfer the cream to a piping bag fitted with a open star tip.
1. Use a serrated knife to cut the choux puffs in half.
2. Pipe a small amount of vanilla pastry cream in the bottom "cup" of the puff. Shake it around gently to smooth out the pastry cream.
3. Now, with the espresso chantilly, hold the pastry bag straight up (parellel to the profiterole) and pipe a circle of cream around the bottom half of the puff. Then pipe a small dome of cream on top of the first layer of chantilly. Place the top half of the puff on top of the chantilly cream.
4. Optional: You can pipe a small dome of chantilly on top of the puffs and top that with a single coffee bean. I did some with and some without this step because I like both looks. However, you really can decorate these however you would like!