Salted Caramel Profiteroles

If I had my way, choux pastry would be THE NEXT BIG THING.  Actually, it would be a PERMANENT next big thing!

I ♥ choux.

More than any other pastry.  It is fun to make, delicious to eat and provides one with endless possibilities for all manner of stunning desserts and a whole universe of flavours to play with.  It’s a perfect canvas.  Yes, it can be tempermental … humidity is no friend to the making of choux.  But all great things have their foibles, right?

Every year, on Father’s Day, I generally make my father some kind of chocolate cake or tart or other pastry.  That’s how we roll most years.  This year, we agreed we would go chocolate free on Father’s Day.  Probably because I’ve been on this chocolate …. chocolate … and more chocolate again baking binge for weeks.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But my father is quite partial to salted caramel, as is my mum, so I thought a pure caramel experience might be the go.

Great choice.  Guess who was the favourite child on Father’s Day?  OK, I’m the only child … but hey, I outclassed the cat for a day 😀

Not only are these classically pretty, you get a wonderful crunch from the toffee as you bite into them that contrasts beautifully with the crisp pastry and creamy crème filling.   With all the sugar that goes into the caramel and toffee, you’d think they were super sweet, but they aren’t.  The sweetness is perfectly balanced with a hint of orange to spike the caramel filling.  Fresh.

Unfortunately, my photos have suffered a little from having to photograph these a little late in the day and lighting at my home is always an issue.  My best time is around midday but I don’t always have the luxury of timing things so I can take advantage of that.  Nonetheless, they are a lovely feast for the eyes and the tastebuds 🙂

If you are making these for a celebration, you have all the makings of a stunning croquembouche right here.  It would look beautiful with the spun sugar and classic flower decorations.  It would also be lovely for a wedding with tiny white sugar flowers and silver cachous.  A bit retro, a bit classic, a whole lot of deliciousness  🙂

They are still very lovely served as individual profiterole and that’s what we did this time, as I made enough to give away to family as well.  They are at their best eaten the day they are made.  However, they will keep for several days if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  The toffee will soften a little when refrigerated so remove them from the fridge at least 20 minutes before serving to allow the toffee to harden up again at room temperature.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

Makes 24 profiterole

Salted Caramel
140 grams sugar
100 grams cream (35% fat)
140 grams unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon Sel de Guerande
Blood Orange Crème
zest of 1 large blood orange, finely grated
50 grams sugar
20 grams cornflour
76 grams egg yolks (4 large)
300 millilitres cream (35% fat)
200 millilitres whole milk
Profiterole Shells
240 millilitres water
120 grams unsalted butter
4 grams salt (½ teaspoon)
10 grams sugar
150 grams plain flour, sifted
156 grams whole eggs (3 large), beaten
Toffee & Spun Sugar
210 grams sugar
70 grams water
70 grams glucose

24 crystallised violets, sugar flowers, or cachous for decoration (optional)

Salted Caramel
Place the sugar into a stainless steel saucepan.  I prefer stainless steel as this allows me to see the colour of the caramel as it cooks.

Place the pan over a low heat and gently stir the sugar as it dissolves.  The best action is to gently move the sugar toward the middle of the pan and back, checking the edges of the pan for any sugar that is dissolving and colouring too quickly and mix it in.    Don’t take your eyes off it for a second and have patience.  When it is all dissolved, stop stirring and let it cook until the colour deepens.  You can gently swirl the caramel on the base of the pan to make sure the caramel darkens evenly.  Cook the sugar until the caramel is a lovely deep amber colour.

When ready, carefully pour in the cream, stirring as you go.  Keep stirring over a low heat until the mixture is smooth.  Remove from the heat, add the salt, and stir in the butter in two batches.  Stir until the caramel is smooth and silky.  Pour the caramel into a bowl and set it aside to cool while you make the crème.
Blood Orange Crème Patissiere
If making ahead, you can infuse the milk and cream with the orange zest overnight for a more intense flavour, stored in the refrigerator.  It is not a necessary step, but does produce a more intense orange flavour that is lovely with the caramel.

In a mixing bowl, add the sugar, cornflour, and egg yolks.  Whisk together until creamy.  Place the blood orange zest, cream, and milk together in a saucepan over a low to medium heat.  Bring just to a simmer  and add to the egg yolk mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously.  Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place back on a low heat.  Stir gently with a whisk or wooden spoon until the cream starts to thicken and coats the back of a spoon easily.  Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl.

Cover the surface of the crème with a layer of dampened waxproof paper, to prevent a skin forming.  Set aside to cool.  When both the caramel and crème have cooled a little, you can cover them with cling film and refrigerate until ready to assemble the profiteroles.
Choux Pastry Shells
To make the profiterole shells, follow the instructions detailed here.

Use a large plain tip and pipe 24 choux pastry rounds and bake as directed in the recipe.  Leave to cool on a wire rack until ready to assemble the profiteroles.
If the caramel has been made ahead and refrigerated, remove it at least thirty minutes before assembling the profiterole.  Whisk the caramel until light.  Add the caramel to theblood orange crème and whisk together gently until smooth and light.

Have ready a large piping bag fitted with a narrow plain piping tip.  Fill the bag with the caramel crème and fill each of the profiterole with the crème.  You can either pipe the crème into the base of each choux shell or from the sides.  Continue filling the choux shells until all are filled.
Toffee & Spun Sugar
To make the toffee, place the sugar and liquid glucose into a stainless steel saucepan over a low heat.  As for the caramel, cook slowly until the sugar and glucose are dissolved, but do not stir the toffee this time.  Cook until the toffee is a light amber only.

When ready, work quickly to dip the top of each profiterole into the toffee.  Allow any excess to drip back down into the pan.  Set onto a rack of line baking tray to set.  If decorating with flowers or cachous, place on to each profiterole after dipping so it sets with the toffee.

If the toffee starts to cool in the pan before you are finished, place back on a very low heat just long enough to melt the toffee.  Remove from the heat again and continue until all the profiterole have been dipped into the toffee.

If you wish to assemble a classic croquembouche, use a little toffee to attach each profiterole to the croquembouche conical stand, starting from the base, and building the tower upwards.

For a spun sugar decoration, use a tablespoon or wooden spoon.  Dip it into the toffee and then work quickly to swirl it over the profiterole in a circular swirling motion, leaving trails of spun toffee over the profiteroles.  This is entirely optional but looks really lovely.

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