Friday 21 December 2012

Christmas Profiteroles with a Passion Fruit & Mascarpone Filling

A fine finish to a festive meal: feather-light choux puffs filled with an indecently rich mixture of fresh passion-fruit pulp and mascarpone, and glazed with a mixture of icing sugar and water.

Profiteroles with a Double-Cre
amy Blue-Cheese Filling
My three granadilla vines have just started to flower, and I am looking forward to
a bumper crop of fruit this year.
I adore savoury profiteroles (especially when they're indulgently bulging with a dreamy Double-Creamy Blue-Cheese Filling), so I thought I'd try a sweet filling this Christmas.

Passion fruit - or granadillas, as we call them here in South Africa - are so intensely flavoured and headily perfumed that they do need to be used with some restraint in desserts; too much of the sharp-sweet pulp in a mousse or fruit salad can leave your guests with faces as puckered as prunes.

I tried both cream cheese and whipped cream in this recipe before settling on sinfully thick fresh mascarpone as their perfect foil.

This filling is easy to make, but  I have to admit that profiteroles can be a bit tricky if you've never made them before.

However, if you follow my instructions (which I've taken from the above-mentioned blue-cheese profiterole recipe) to the letter, you are unlikely to go wrong. Please refer to my Cook's Notes at the end of this page for some tips.

Profiteroles with a Passion Fruit & Mascarpone Filling

For the profiteroles:
1 cup (250 ml) cake flour
a pinch of salt
125 g butter (this is a quarter of a 500-gram block of butter)
1 cup (250 ml) water
4 extra-large free-range eggs
icing sugar, for dusting

For the filling:
one and a half x 250 g tubs (375 g in total) fresh mascarpone, at room temperature
the pulp of 4 large passion fruit
6 Tbsp (90 ml) caster sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) finely grated lemon zest
about 4 Tbsp (60 ml) pouring cream - see recipe

For the glaze:
4 Tbsp (60 ml) icing sugar
a little water

Profiteroles with a Double-Creamy Blue-Cheese FillingFirst make the profiteroles.

Heat the oven to 180ยบ C. Line a baking sheet with a rectangle of baking paper. Sift the flour and salt, from a height, onto a large plate or a sheet of baking paper. Put the butter and the water into a medium saucepan and set over a brisk heat. When the mixture begins to boil rapidly, remove the pan from the heat. Immediately tip the sifted flour and salt, all in one go, into the butter/water mixture. Stir energetically with a wooden spoon, and return to the stove. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring vigorously and continuously, for one to two minutes, or until the mixture forms a ball that comes cleanly away from the sides of the pan (see picture, left).

Take the pan off the heat and allow the ball of pastry to cool for 4-5 minutes, or until just warm to the touch. Now, using a wooden spoon or an electric whisk/mixer, beat in the whole eggs, one at a time. The mixture will not come together immediately, but you must persist with furious beating  Once you've added the fourth egg, you should have a glossy and thick - though slightly slack - mixture that is just capable of holding its shape without flattening out (see picture, below).

Profiteroles with a Passion Fruit and Mascarpone FillingPile the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a big plain nozzle, and pipe blobs the size of a litchi onto the baking paper (or use a teaspoon to make neat little dollops).

Put the baking sheet into the hot oven and immediately throw five ice cubes (or a quarter of a cup of water) onto the bottom of the oven - the steam will help the puffs rise.

Bake for 25-35 minutes (depending on the ferocity of your oven),  or until the puffs are well risen and  golden brown. Turn off the oven, open the door, and let the profiteroles  dry out in the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the profiteroles from the oven and turn them onto their sides. Use a piping nozzle (or the handle-end of a wooden spoon) to poke a hole into the bottom of each one. Set aside to cool completely.

Profiteroles with a Double-Creamy Blue-Cheese Filling
In the meantime,  make the filling. In a large bowl, whisk together the mascarpone, passion fruit pulp,  caster sugar and lemon zest.  Add just enough cream (about 4 Tbsp/60 ml usually does the trick) to loosen the mixture so you can easily pipe it into the profiteroles; it should be  about the consistency of very thick mayonnaise.

Wash and dry your piping bag and fit a medium nozzle to it. Fill the piping bag with the mascarpone mixture, and poke the nozzle into the hole you've made on the underside of each profiterole, squeezing  in enough of the mixture to fill the cavity completely.

If you don't have a piping bag, pile the filling into a large polythene bag, snip off a small corner using a pair of sharp scissors, and use that to pipe the mixture into the choux buns.

To make the glaze, put the icing powder in a little bowl and add just enough water - a few drops at a time -  to form a slightly runny glaze, about the consistency of honey. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the profiteroles.

Sift icing sugar over the puffs and serve immediately or -  if you would like the filling to firm up a bit -  refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. The profiteroles will soften slightly in the fridge, but I promise you no one will care.

Makes 12 large profiteroles, or 18 small ones

Cook's Notes
  • Choux pastry, although easy to make, is a little temperamental, and you can only really learn from experience when the batter is of a perfect consistency. Much depends on the flour you're using, and the size of your eggs. Measure all the ingredients exactly, and follow the instructions above to the letter.
  • If your first batch of choux pastry doesn't turn out well, don't be discouraged. Try again, and you will be so pleased when you nail the recipe.  Perfect choux buns are light and crisp, hollow on the inside, and golden-brown on top.
  • When you're piping the choux buns onto the baking paper, you might find it difficult to release the end of the nozzle from the top of the blob, because the paste is so sticky. The secret is this: confidently pipe out a sphere of paste, then very swiftly, in one sharp movement, lift the nozzle up and away from the blob.  
  • If you have forgotten to take the mascarpone out of the fridge to let it come to room temperature, you will find it difficult to beat to a smooth consistency.   Set the mixing bowl to one side for 30 minutes, then try again.
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Kit said...

Mmmm mouth-wateringly decadent. I've never attempted profiteroles before, but maybe I will now with you holding my hand with this recipe. It would be nice to add just a hint of bitter dark chocolate... would that work along with the passion fruit, or would it clash horribly do you think?

Jane-Anne said...

Hello Kit! Thanks for the comment. I sincerely hope that you do try profiteroles - you will assume goddess-like status in your house (even more goddess-like than I assume you already are in the eyes of your kids). It's funny that you should ask about chocolate on top: my husband suggested the same thing, and I told him I didn't fancy the idea. He insisted that they would be good with dark choc, and as you have suggested the same thing, perhaps I am wrong in my doubts about chocolate with granadilla. Give it a try. Let me know how it tastes. xx

lapiubelladitutte said...

Looks like the perfect christmas dessert!!!

Kit said...

odacem 1000
It might just be that I could eat chocolate with almost anything...! It couldn't be sweet chocolate and not too much of it either - just an elegant swirl of darkest melted chocolate perhaps. Will try it one of these days and let you know if it works.