Friday, February 18, 2011
I made profiteroles for you today. You can fill them with ice cream. Vanilla will do just fine.
Or, you can fill them with whipped cream and then they become cream puffs.
Orr, you can shape them into tubes, fill them with whipped cream and then dip them in chocolate and call them eclairs.
Orrr, you can just pour some hot fudge all over them so that they all stick together and then eating 20 of them is the same as just eating one. That's a fact.
Profiteroles are totally distinct! They're made from choux pastry (aka Pâte à Choux) and have a very light and sorta flaky texture. When they bake up, they are essentially hollow inside. This hollowness is completely intentional.
There's only one way to make a profiterole and it's weird. They're actually cooked twice. It begins with bringing lots of water and some butter to a boil and then dumping in some flour. Seriously! It seems completely wrong, but trust me it's right. When the flour hits the very hot water, the starch granules swell up immediately so they're full of water. The eggs are then mixed in after, for what seems like an eternity because it takes a good amount of bicep and wrist action to get them incorporated. These eggs give the puffs structure to hold their odd shapes.
Now the interesting thing is that all that trapped water in the flour evaporates under the high heat of the oven, creates steam and air pockets. As the outer surface of the puffs sets, the air pockets get trapped in the center merge together to form one large bubble. Choux even means "cabbage" in French because these little puffs look like funky irregular balls of cabbage.
All of this mixing, piping, baking and filling got me thinking about stuff...
Stuff like how baking, and cooking in general, is go great because there really aren't any rules. Anything goes. And, if it tastes great, then it's a bonus! Right?
But then I started thinking....there are rules. A muffin is a muffin. A cake is a cake and a cookie is a cookie. You can't put cookie batter in a cake pan and call it a cake. Well...wait. I guess you could if you called it a cookie cake. Hmmm...
Ok, but how about things like Chiffon, Genoise, Angel Food Cake. They're all cakes, but they have different ingredients and techniques that make them unique...otherwise it would all just be cake!
Oh, my biggest peeve is when the title says "muffin" but the recipe is totally a cupcake. There's a difference.
These profiteroles, for example....there's only one way to make them. That sounds like a rule.
It's like an artist. Blue is blue. You can't call red blue. And you can't mix yellow with red and call it purple, because it's not. It's orange.
Maybe none of this makes any sense...and I just need to eat some more chocolate. My brain hurts.